Posts

Australian Green Party leader Bob Brown talks about global democracy, X-risk, and immortality 2012-03-30T00:18:24.379Z · score: 18 (26 votes)

Comments

Comment by broggly on Is latent Toxoplasmosis worth doing something about? · 2011-11-20T07:02:37.331Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

According to Peter Watt's blog toxoplasmosis doesn't actually reduce fear in rats, but instead causes the odor of cat urine to activate sexual arousal pathways as well as fear pathways. The overall effect causes them to approach the smell of cat urine.

Comment by broggly on Three Dialogues on Identity · 2011-10-22T14:49:15.117Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I'd think they do. Surely in principle someone could see the image of whatever you're looking at reflected off the retina from the inside of your eye. It's only not visible in the sense that nobody's inside your eyeball and the image is probably very dim.

Comment by broggly on Universal Law · 2011-06-07T05:01:02.694Z · score: 5 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Hey, go easy on him. For a brief moment of insanity I considered the probability of anti-gravity being discovered greater than a LW poster thinking the law of gravity was s=4.9t^2

Comment by broggly on Universal Law · 2011-06-07T04:58:03.736Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I was totally shocked when I read that, thinking that there'd been some discovery that anti-gravity had been discovered, and matter is in fact made up of (net positively charged) gravitational dipoles.

Comment by broggly on Existing Absurd Technologies · 2011-06-07T03:59:24.498Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Algorithms that are hard to reverse is pretty simple to understand. Every Schoolboy Knows that division is "harder" than multiplication, and I'm still not entirely sure how to find roots in my head.

Comment by broggly on Remaining human · 2011-06-07T03:43:14.650Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not sure, but I think skis were designed for moving across mountainous terrain. I find the whole idea of "cross country snowboard" somewhat absurd, but have seen alpine troops chasing each other down on skis in WW2 documentaries.

Comment by broggly on Remaining human · 2011-06-07T03:40:06.502Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I still see martial arts and athletics existing, extrapolation from our present situation. Ignoring artificial handicaps and rules, these could well end up being status symbols (depending on the economic system) with people who have the resources to be able to juggle planets being seethingly envious of those rich bastards who can afford bodies and cerebrums strong enough to juggle stars.

Comment by broggly on Remaining human · 2011-06-07T03:34:24.412Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Tosca sounds like it has some strange theology. Surely most people who believe in Hell also believe in Absolution?

Comment by broggly on Remaining human · 2011-06-07T03:30:37.925Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Civilizations based on the irrational revelations of prophets have proven themselves to be more successful and appealing over a longer period of time than any rationalist society to date.

Depends what you mean by "based on" (and to a lesser extent "prophet" if you want to argue about North Korea, China and the old USSR). People seem to prefer, for example, America over Iran as a place to live.

As we speak, the vast majority of humans being born are not adopting, and never will adopt, a rational belief system in place of religion. Rationalists are quite literally a dying breed.

Hang on, that's a bit of a non-sequiter. Just because rationalists won't become a majority within the current generational cohort doesn't mean we're shrinking in number, or even in proportion. I haven't seen the statistics for other countries (where coercion and violence likely play some role in religious matters) but in Western nations non religious people have been increasing in number. In my own nation we're seeing the priesthood age and shrink (implying that the proportion of "religious" people committed enough to make it their career is falling) and in my city Adelaide, the "City of Churches", quite a few have been converted into shops and nightclubs.

Comment by broggly on Death Note, Anonymity, and Information Theory · 2011-05-11T11:03:30.035Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Ruin? Or make better?

Comment by broggly on The 5-Second Level · 2011-05-11T10:58:06.086Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The first fictional example I thought of was the Wax Lips scene from The Simpsons. "Try our wax lips: the candy of 1000 uses!" "Like what?" "One, a humourous substitute for your own lips." "Keep going..." "Two, err...oh, I'm needed in the basement!"

Comment by broggly on Ethics and rationality of suicide · 2011-05-03T20:22:58.215Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I don't know whether DFW is different to the people I know who attempted or commited suicide, or if I'm different to Franzen, but I didn't feel those sorts of emotions when a friend killed herself or my dad was in hospital on a pill overdose. I've got depression and have occasional suicidal urges, so maybe I assume they're like me and were just suffering from anhedonia and pessimism about their future enjoyment of life rather than anything to do with people they know. I feel bad that I didn't realise and couldn't have tried to help in some way, but more in that I would rather it not have happened rather than feeling ashamed and betrayed.

Comment by broggly on Phoenix Less Wrong Meetup- Saturday, 5-7-11, 5pm · 2011-05-03T15:40:09.082Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

When I saw the title, I thought this post would be about rationalist Phoenix Wright fanfiction. Quite possibly that would lead to Phoenix leading a campaign for legal reform due to their stupid "Three day trial, guilty until another is proven guilty, no chain of custody laws" legal system, or at least having that incompetent judge fired.

Comment by broggly on [Altruist Support] How to determine your utility function · 2011-05-01T07:47:43.788Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I would have a similar function, assuming that by "humanity" you mean beings with humane-ish values rather than just H. sapiens.

Comment by broggly on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 7 · 2011-04-30T10:07:48.155Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

The obvious response is to include in the trigger warning a statement for any sufficiently advanced intelligence or humans with philosophical reservations about imagining other conscious beings that the story includes suffering, descriptions of suffering, and people reflecting on the suffering of others in detail.

Comment by broggly on How to Seem (and Be) Deep · 2011-04-30T07:45:36.177Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

"When you can balance a tack hammer on your head, you will head off your foes with a balanced attack."

Comment by broggly on Philosophy: A Diseased Discipline · 2011-04-05T00:48:02.850Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I get the problem with (2), although mostly because I haven't thought about quantum mechanics enough to have an opinion, but (1) is no more dogma than "DNA is transcribed to mRNA which is then translated as an amino acid sequence". There are lots of good reasons to investigate the actual likelihood of the null and alternative hypotheses rather than just assuming it's about 95% likely it's all just a coincidence Of course, until this becomes fairly standard doing so would mean turning your paper into a meta-analysis as well as the actual experiment, which is probably hard work and fairly boring.

Comment by broggly on A Rationalist's Account of Objectification? · 2011-03-20T17:33:11.759Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Sometimes you win via trying to influence social mores such that a previously disadvantaged group is treated more fairly. Remember, "win" refers to your entire utility function which can include the wellbeing of others.

Comment by broggly on Limitless, a Nootropics-Centered Movie · 2011-03-15T16:38:24.980Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Wait, so they're not making the Captain America movie now?

Comment by broggly on Lifeism, Anti-Deathism, and Some Other Terminal-Values Rambling · 2011-03-11T13:15:14.995Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Ah yes, I meant to type that you only have the moral authority to condemn copies to torture or slavery if they're actually you, and it's pretty stupid to risk almost certain torture for a small chance of a moderate benefit

Comment by broggly on How best to show dying is bad · 2011-03-11T05:20:03.210Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

What about Futurama? Or is that not suitable because, as a comedy, it's more cynical and brings up both the way the future would be somewhat disturbing for us and that it's likely our descendents would be more interested in only reviving famous historical figures and sticking their heads in museums.

The comic Transmetropolitan also brings up the issue of cryogenics "revivals" effectively being confined to nursing homes out of our total shock at the weirdness of the future and inability to cope. It's an interesting series for transhumanists, given that it has people uploading themselves into swarms of nanobots, and the idea of a small "preseve" for techno-libertarians to generate whatever technologies they want ("The hell was that?" "It's the local news, sent directly to your brain via nanopollen!" "Wasn't that banned when it was found to build up in the synapses and cause alzheimer's?" "We think we've ironed out the bugs...")

Comment by broggly on How best to show dying is bad · 2011-03-11T05:09:08.156Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The idea that you are alive “now” but will be dead “later” is irrational. Time is just a persistent illusion according to relativistic physics. You are alive and dead, period. A little knowledge is a dangerous etcetera. For one, it's like saying that relativistic spacetime proves New York isn't east of LA, but instead there are NY and LA, period. For another, if he really believed this then he wouldn't be able to function in society or make any plans at all.

Ditto a meat replica But aren't you always a meat replica of any past version of you? If he feels this way then he has to bite the bullet and recommend you quit your job, because you're working hard but it's only a meat replica that will recieve the pay for it.

Many worlds It's not making "another one", it's "A lot more". "Not many" + "A lot more" = "A little more than that". He's making Zeno's mistake here, thinking that just because there are infinite numbers between 0 and 1 you can't get to one, and it's meaningless to say that 10>1 because that's just 9 + infinity and you can't add to infinity.

Now, how does he donate? Does he give a good amount to actually useful charities (ie Villiage Reach, NTD treatments, etc) and you're trying to shift him over to SIAI and other such high risk charities? That would be pretty tricky as it's hard to get a grip on the actual value of SIAI donation. E=(A Lot times very small delta p) per dollar isn't super convincing sell to me when compared with E=(1/7 years of schooling + 1/10 years of healthy life) per dollar. I am not signed up for cryonics, mostly because my nation has no cryogenic facilities and therefore I don't think my brain would fare too well prior to vitrification. However, I would sign up if there was a nearby storage facility, especially since I have no current use for the death part of my Death, Terminal Disease and Permanent Disability insurance.

What I think could be useful is explaining cryonics as an extension of acceptable practices. He'd probably go under anaesthesia for life saving healthcare, and would probably approve of someone being put in a medically induced coma (I think it's generally to keep them stable before surgery but IANAD so do your research first). Explain Cryogenics as effectively a way of sustaining an effectively continuous life to the point where it can be treated and hopefully given a better chance at longevity.

Comment by broggly on Lifeism, Anti-Deathism, and Some Other Terminal-Values Rambling · 2011-03-10T22:29:45.016Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

To my mind the issue with copies is that it's copies who remain exactly the same that "don't matter", whereas once you've got a bunch of copies being tortured, they're no longer identical copies and so are different people. Maybe I'm just having trouble with Sleeping Beauty-like problems, but that's only a subjective issue for decision making (plus I'd rather spend time learning interesting things that won't require me to bite the bullet of admitting anyone with a suitable sick and twisted mind could Pascal Mug me). Morally, I much prefer 5,000 iterations each of two happy, fulfilled minds than 10,000 of the same one.

Where "Copies" is used isomorphically with "Future versions of you in either MWI or similar realist interpretation of probability theory", then I would certainly subject some of them to torture only for a very large potential gain and small risk of torture. "I" don't like torture, and I'd need a pretty damn big reward for that 1/N longshot to justify a (N-1)/N chance or brutal torture or slavery. This is of course assuming I'm at status quo, if I were a slave or Bagram/Laogai detainee I would try to stay rational and avoid fear making me overly risk averse from escape attempts. I haven't tried to work out my exact beliefs on it, but as said above if I have two options, one saving a life with certainty and the other having a 50% chance of saving two, I'd prefer saving two (assuming they're isolated ie two guys on a lifeboat).

tl; dr, it's a terrible idea in that if you only have the moral authority to condemn copies

Comment by broggly on Greg Egan disses stand-ins for Overcoming Bias, SIAI in new book · 2011-02-23T14:06:29.219Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

And given that the Haber-Bosch process requires water (to produce the hydrogen gas), it seems a little stupid to ban public urination rather than simply insisting they urinate on trees or into buckets for their farmers to use.

Comment by broggly on Rationality Quotes: January 2011 · 2011-02-23T13:42:52.914Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, it should be "1, 2, 3, Kumquat!"

Comment by broggly on Rationality Quotes: January 2011 · 2011-02-23T13:24:42.967Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

My first year Geology lecturer said that apart from wanting to avoid contaminating the sample, the best reason to avoid touching fresh meteorites with your bare hands is the risk of freezer burn.

Comment by broggly on Rationality Quotes: January 2011 · 2011-02-23T13:10:32.452Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

What is to walking, as walking is to crawling?

Hopping. Each time you halve the number of limbs involved.

What is to standing, as standing is to sitting?

Standing like a chicken, with your knee and hip joints bent the wrong way.

Comment by broggly on Rationality Quotes: January 2011 · 2011-02-23T13:06:02.593Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

That's how I usually start the day.

Comment by broggly on Greg Egan disses stand-ins for Overcoming Bias, SIAI in new book · 2011-02-23T11:56:14.912Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Surely Mill and the like can be seen as having some influence on liberalism? I certainly don't think our current society is so bad as to be comparable to the Nazis or USSR.

I'm also a little unhappy with your characterisation of both Nietzsche and Alexander. For one, Nietzsche's link to the Nazis was more due to his proto-nazi sister and brother in law who edited and published The Will to Power, using his name and extracts of his notes to support their political ideology. I also think Alexander wasn't so bad for his time. True, imperialism isn't a good thing, but as I've been told for the short span of his rule Alexander was a fairly good king who allowed his subjects to follow their own customs and treated them fairly regardless of nationality. I may be mistaken and there might be a bit too much hagiography in the history of Alexander though.

Comment by broggly on Torturing people for fun · 2011-02-15T03:33:17.399Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

A lower bound would presumably be the amount of fun the show 24 provides on average, with N being the ratio of the shows' viewers to prisoners rendered so they could be tortured. (Take That, other side!)

Comment by broggly on Torturing people for fun · 2011-02-15T03:17:02.119Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It seems I'm saying that there are diminishing returns to orgasms, which doesn't look quite right

That you think it doesn't look right is evidence to me that you are not, and have never been, a chronic masturbator.

Comment by broggly on A rationalist's guide to psychoactive drugs · 2011-02-15T02:57:12.574Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

As someone who actually does have ADD, I'd like to point out that if you take amphetamines often you need to pay more attention to dental hygene. Amphetamines inhibit saliva production (presumably this has something to do with its effects on appetite) which can promote cavities if you skip brushing your teeth. Since it can give you dry mouth, maybe a good way to ensure you eat is to make a nice soup so you'll eat it when you feel thirsty? If that doesn't work (I've never needed to try it) then maybe drinking milk instead of water could be good since at least you get some nutrition out of it (although being South Australian I do come from a culture where iced coffee is supposedly more popular than coca cola)

Comment by broggly on Closet survey #1 · 2011-02-01T03:05:47.683Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

"Man does not seek happiness, only the Englishman." -Nietzsche, on Utilitarians.

Comment by broggly on Closet survey #1 · 2011-02-01T02:26:25.271Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

So why is bisexuality so common in women? Why don't you think female bisexuals are lesbians in denial, or under duress to sleep with women? I just don't see how women who have sex with both men and women enjoy it but men who have sex with both men and women are clearly just keeping up appearances.

Comment by broggly on The Strangest Thing An AI Could Tell You · 2011-01-31T19:48:11.069Z · score: 26 (28 votes) · LW · GW

I can't for the life of me imagine why such a disturbing and offensive post hasn't been downvoted to oblivion. You're a sick genius to be so horrifying with just twelve words.

Comment by broggly on Optimal Employment · 2011-01-31T19:11:42.081Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Maybe he's talking about American residents who renounced their citizenship but remained in the country? I have no idea how America can tax non-resident non-citizens without their nation making it more trouble than it's worth.

Comment by broggly on Punishing future crimes · 2011-01-31T18:49:35.230Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Wasn't there some Twilight Zone episode about this, where a Jewish time traveller used a mind-control device to torment Hitler, which caused his anti-semitism?

Comment by broggly on What is Eliezer Yudkowsky's meta-ethical theory? · 2011-01-30T04:09:37.316Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think the difficulty is that in English "You" is used for "A hypothetical person". In German they use the word "Man" which is completely distinct from "Du". It might be easier to parse as "Man should_Raemon maximize Raemon's preferences, but of course man should_Matt maximize Matt's preferences."

On the jargon itself, Should_X means "Should, as X would understand it".

Comment by broggly on A Possible Solution to Parfit's Hitchiker · 2011-01-29T15:12:20.282Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I think that's the point of Parfit's Hitchiker: being a jerk and breaking deals because you can isn't really that rational.

Comment by broggly on The Orange Head Joke · 2011-01-26T21:38:59.944Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

"What's green, whistles, and hangs on a wall?"

"No idea"

"A Salmon!"

"Salmon aren't green!"

"So I painted it green."

"They don't hang on walls!"

"They do if you nail them up"

"Fish can't whistle!"

"Yeah, I just put that in so it wouldn't be too easy."

Comment by broggly on The Orange Head Joke · 2011-01-26T21:36:47.161Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I think you're just being parochial in your assumption that having an orange for a head is a "bad" thing.

Can you imagine the horror of a universe filled with people eternally yearning for oranges as heads, but being unable to do so because of your actions? That would make you history's greatest monster.

Comment by broggly on The Orange Head Joke · 2011-01-26T21:32:31.532Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Exactly, but I think the parodistic element is important as well. We expect (both from all the similar stories about genies and all the less wrong posts about what genies can be trusted) that he made a seemingly useful wish that backfired, presumably in a humourous manner (like how "The building explodes and your elderly mum is blown into the sky" is humourous, in a slapstick manner). We think he's going to ask for something he wants, but instead gets something he doesn't want, when he instead asks for something he doesn't want and gets it.

Also, you're obviously right when you think of "King Midas is starving to death. How? Magic." has no clear genre. It's a morality play about wealth and not making stupid wishes if the answer is "He used magic to wish for all he touched to turn to gold, not realising this meant his food as well. Being unable to digest gold he started to starve." and a joke if the answer is "He used magic to wish to starve to death. What a maroon!" Also, regarding OP, just making the answer magic is as silly as "Why is that man wearing a suit? Economics" and "Why is King Midas starving? Biochemistry."

Comment by broggly on The Orange Head Joke · 2011-01-26T21:16:27.657Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Given that "Why did the chicken cross the road?" is considered the prototypical joke, anti-humour is pretty popular. You may say that a man with an orange for a head is more inherently funny than a chicken, but I would refer you to D Zongker 2006

Comment by broggly on Omega can be replaced by amnesia · 2011-01-26T20:56:08.681Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Hang on a minute though

1 box then 2 box = $1,001,000 1 box then 1 box = $1,000,000 2 box then 2 box = $1,000 2 box then 1 box = $0

$2,002,000 divided by 4 is $500,500. Effectively you're betting a million dollars on two coinflips, the first to get your money back (1-box on the first day) and the second to get $1000 (2-box on the second day). Omega could just use a randomizer if it thinks you will, in which case people would say "Omega always guesses right, unless you use a randomizer. But it's stupid to use one anyway."

Where p is the probability of 1 boxing, $E = p^2 $1,000,000 + p(1-p $1,001,000 + (1-p)^2 * $1,000 = $999,000 p + $1000. So the smart thing to do is clearly always one-box, unless showing up Omega who thinks he's so big is worth $499,500 to you.

Comment by broggly on Proposal: all Amazon hyperlinks get Less Wrong's Amazon Associates referral code · 2011-01-26T20:27:47.868Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, it's psuedocode. Just saying what needs to be done rather than actually executable code.

Inform, a language for writing text adventures, is interesting in that it's only small quirks of vocabulary and syntax that let you know the actual code from some hastily jotted down pseudocode

Comment by broggly on Is Less Wrong discouraging less nerdy people from participating? · 2011-01-24T19:53:25.489Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think the issue is Pratchett's rationality so much as his quotability.

Comment by broggly on Knowledge doesn't just happen · 2011-01-24T07:00:48.697Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

A philosophy professor recently told me that one of the few things philosophers agree on is that there can't be a moral obligation to do the impossible

Oh dear, Eliezer won't like this...

Comment by broggly on "Manna" by Marshall Brain · 2011-01-19T09:28:03.638Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

"Those are the space elevators," she said, "You can ride them if you want. They are just starting to be fully operational.

Huh. I guess 4GC annexed Indonesia at some point then...

Comment by broggly on Life's Story Continues · 2011-01-13T14:01:47.678Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Filamentous prokaryotes, unicellular eukaryotes: Meh, so what.

Now I don't know about fliamentous prokaryotes, but according to Pharyngula the introduction of mitochondria allowed eukaryotes to have much larger genomes. As mitochondria contain nothing but the essentials to generate ATP, the cell has enough power to synthesize many different proteins and RNA strands, allowing a big and complex genome. This both increases the rate and searchable area of evolution, and makes it possible for multicellular eukaryotes to evolve. From Lane and Martin (2010):

The conversion from endosymbiont to mitochondrion provided a freely expandable surface area of internal bioenergetic membranes, serviced by thousands of tiny specialized genomes that permitted their host to evolve, explore and express massive numbers of new proteins in combinations and at levels energetically unattainable for its prokaryotic contemporaries. If evolution works like a tinkerer, evolution with mitochondria works like a corps of engineers.

Comment by broggly on Bayesians vs. Barbarians · 2011-01-13T12:07:21.483Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, like all strategies it depends on the economic, geopolitical, and technological situation you find yourself in. If the enemy is willing to depopulate the land so that they can colonise it, then of course you're not going to be able to win through non-cooperation but if they need you as workers then there comes a point where your willingness to sustain losses is so great that in order to blackmail you into submission they have to expend so many resources and destroy so much of their potential labour force that it's not worth doing. That is, unless their goal is directly achieved by commiting atrocities, they are only ably to win by doing so if their willingness to commit atrocities (or other). Also, there's the effect on morale of commiting atrocities. Iraqi soldiers described how disturbing Iranian Human Wave attacks were, and they were killing (para)military forces who were trying to kill them and invade their homeland. The psychological impact of killing civilians would presumably be much greater. Even if the leaders were willing to do so, the soldiers could lose their will to attack unarmed targets and have to be rotated out, which is expensive and could destroy the invader's national will to fight. While the Prague invasion was ultimately able to suppress the Czechs (until the late '80s) the Russians did have a lot of morale problems and needed to rotate their troops out very often. Population dispersal and resettlement need to be worked out on a case by case basis. It may be possible and worthwhile to resist, depending on how able the enemy army is to physically pick up and drag the citizenry to the trains or whatever (or how well your side has prepared their supplies for being starved out). Population dispersal relies on the enemy being able to coerce you to move from one place to another, and can be considered in the same way as anything else the enemy wants to coerce you to do.

I'm not a pacifist, and I'm trying to avoid believing in it to seem wise ("violence doesn't solve anything") or be contrary ("Everyone thinks armed defence is necessary, so if I disagree it proves I'm smarter"), but as a non-expert I think it's a plausible strategy. While it wouldn't beat the Barbarians (just as standing in front of a trolley won't stop it, no matter how fat you are), it could beat many real world enemies.