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Comment by bugmaster on The horrifying importance of domain knowledge · 2015-08-06T02:06:12.971Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Right, I was thinking in the context of our Western society. But in the third world, as you said, the opposite is true: an address like "123 Main St., Sometown Somecountry" simply does not work. So it is still not the case that you need to implement a fully general address database that covers all possible cases; you only need to cover the cases that you personally care about.

Comment by bugmaster on The Other Path - a poem · 2015-08-06T01:31:58.770Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I realize this is supposed to be satire, but I am not convinced that, taken at face value, this poem actually constitutes bad advice. If you have the kind of personality that would allow you to implement these instructions, chances are good that -- in our modern society, at least -- you'll live a happier life; though the world may be poorer for it.

Comment by bugmaster on The horrifying importance of domain knowledge · 2015-08-06T01:13:17.716Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I think it's worth noting that, yes, if you want your database of names/addresses/times/etc. to be fully robust, you need to essentially represent these items as unconstrained strings of arbitrary length (including zero).

However, in practice, most likely you're not building a fully robust database. For example, you are not solving the problem of, "how can I fully represent all of the marvelous variety of human names and addresses ?", but rather, "how can I maximize the changes that the packages my company is shipping to customers will actually be shipped to the correct customer ?".

The second problem is much more heavily constrained, because your database no longer holds arbitrary pieces of information; but rather, instructions to someone (or something) at the package shipping company. All you need to do is implement just enough complexity to make sure you can communicate to that agent. It is highly unlikely that the agent will accept arbitrary strings, because he needs to turn around and convert the strings to instructions for his fleet of delivery truck drivers, and -- not being omniscient -- he can't do that if the address says, "That one old guy who lives in the village over by the river".

Comment by bugmaster on Top 9+2 myths about AI risk · 2015-08-02T05:11:09.640Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

This article appears to encompass most of my objections:

http://thebulletin.org/artificial-intelligence-really-existential-threat-humanity8577

I do disagree with some of the things Geist says in there, but of course he's a professional AI researcher and I'm, well, me, so...

Comment by bugmaster on Top 9+2 myths about AI risk · 2015-07-10T04:35:42.321Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

See my response to Caspar42, below. I'll write up my thoughts and post them, this way I have something to link to every time this issue comes up...

Comment by bugmaster on Top 9+2 myths about AI risk · 2015-07-10T00:45:53.898Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

No, and that's a good point, I should really make one. I will try to post a discussion post about it, once I get more time.

Comment by bugmaster on Top 9+2 myths about AI risk · 2015-07-09T04:03:59.916Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

My own set of objections to AI risk does not include any of these (except possibly #7); but it's possible that they are unusual and therefore do not qualify as "top 10". Still, FWIW, I remain unconvinced that AI risk is something we should be spending any amount of resources on.

Comment by bugmaster on Open Thread, Apr. 13 - Apr. 19, 2015 · 2015-04-18T07:51:56.035Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Bending is allowed; see above.

Comment by bugmaster on Open Thread, Apr. 13 - Apr. 19, 2015 · 2015-04-18T07:51:29.722Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Folding is allowed, yes.

Parts can have different shapes (if you want), but must have the same area.

You cannot use compasses, but you can use an unmarked straightedge if you want to make precise creases, or to avoid ripping the paper in an untidy fashion. You are not allowed to mark the straightedge, of course.

If the procedure were carried out with infinite precision, then it would indeed produce exact fifths.

Comment by bugmaster on Open Thread, Apr. 13 - Apr. 19, 2015 · 2015-04-17T04:57:08.160Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

In keeping with the "puzzle" theme:

You are given a rectangular piece of paper (such as the placemat at a fast-food restaurant). Without using any measuring tools (such as a ruler, a tape measure, some clever length-measuring app on your smartphone, etc.), divide the paper into five equal parts.

Comment by bugmaster on Open Thread, Apr. 13 - Apr. 19, 2015 · 2015-04-17T04:50:14.748Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

...but note that astrophysicists admire the night sky at least as much as lay folks, despite being able to describe in some detail how the stars shine and galaxies form. So "reasonable" doesn't mean "plain".

Quite the opposite, since the astrophysicists can enjoy the night sky on many more levels than someone who believes that stars are just little holes in the celestial dome, or something. Some of these things we call "stars" are suns (much like our own Sol), but others are galaxies or globular clusters. What sounds more grand and wonderful: "a tiny little light in the sky", or "a gravitationally bound system consisting of stars, stellar remnants, interstellar gas and dust, and dark matter" ?

Comment by bugmaster on LessWrong experience on Alcohol · 2015-04-17T04:42:21.279Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I like the taste of some alcoholic beverages; but, for some weird reason, being drunk makes me feel quite dizzy -- and that's it. There are no positive effects: no social disinhibition (as far as I can tell, anyway), no warm fuzzy feelings, just dizziness. For this reason, I tend to drink rarely, and little.

Edit: I love olives, FWIW.

Comment by bugmaster on What level of compassion do you consider normal, expected, mandatory etc. ? · 2015-04-13T20:21:03.396Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I was in this exact situation, and I chose to buy some headphones. If I analyze my decision-making process, I can come up with two reasons:

1). My own personal cost of buying and wearing headphones was much lower than the cost of having pissed-off neighbours who hate me. Obviously, YMMV.

2). My neighbours were polite, and even somewhat deferential, in their request (for me to stop playing loud music). They did not threaten me with coercion, despite the fact that they had plenty of coercion at their disposal -- they could've complained to the building manager, filed a noise complaint with the cops, etc. Instead, they chose to ask me for a favor, thus becoming indebted to me in some small way. In other words, they could've easily defected, but they chose to click that "Cooperate" button, and I responded in kind.

I think that these reasons, when combined, constitute what counts as "not being a jerk" in general society: a reciprocal agreement to make small sacrifices in exchange for future cooperation.

Comment by bugmaster on Why I Reject the Correspondence Theory of Truth · 2015-03-25T23:05:09.331Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

One way is to simulate a perfect computational agent, assume perfect information, and see what kind of models it would construct.

Right, but I meant, in practice.

that is, learning from observations.

Observations of what ? Since you do not have access to infinite computation or perfect observations in practice, you end up observing the outputs of models, as suggested in the original post.

For example, how about "relying on the accumulated knowledge of others"?

What is it that makes their accumulated knowledge worthy of being relied upon ?

Comment by bugmaster on Why I Reject the Correspondence Theory of Truth · 2015-03-25T21:48:28.017Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

We don't want to be confused with the uncritically thinking masses - the apologists of homoeopathy or astrology justifying their views by "yeah, I don't know how it works either, but it's useful!";

I think this statement underscores the problem with rejecting the correspondence theory of truth. Yes, one can say "homeopathy works", but what does that mean ? How do you evaluate whether any given model is useful of not ? If you reject the notion of an external reality that is accessible to us in at least some way, then you cannot really measure the performance of your models against any kind of a common standard. All you've got left are your internal thoughts and feelings, and, as it turns out, certain goals (such as "eradicate polio" or "talk to people very far away") cannot be achieved based on your feelings alone.

Comment by bugmaster on [LINK] Author's Note 119: Shameless Begging · 2015-03-14T00:39:51.050Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Not to mention, the leading cause of propeller-induced face laceration syndrome...

Comment by bugmaster on [LINK] Author's Note 119: Shameless Begging · 2015-03-14T00:38:25.172Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Curses ! I am undone !

Comment by bugmaster on [LINK] Author's Note 119: Shameless Begging · 2015-03-11T05:01:16.692Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

This may be a stupid question, but is that mosquito laser drone thing really the best way to solve the problem of... what problem is it even solving ? "Too many mosquitoes" ? "Malaria" ?

Comment by bugmaster on Stupid Questions March 2015 · 2015-03-06T10:36:29.077Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think this is a good data point, since the makeup they wear is explicitly designed to counteract visual artifacts (glare, unnatural-seeming skin tones, etc.) that are introduced by the camera. Thus, the makeup does not necessarily have a positive effect on people who see the movie stars in person.

Comment by bugmaster on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 113 · 2015-03-01T01:14:08.441Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Note: will still be stuck to Harry's face, so no bombs or suchlike.

Why not ? I mean, yeah, obviously Harry would want to survive; but if there was some way to take out Voldemort while also taking out himself (and possibly Hermione), and there was nothing better that Harry could come up with in 60 seconds; then the logical course of action would be to go ahead and do that.

Comment by bugmaster on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 113 · 2015-02-28T22:35:45.867Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not sure what "having the entire plot planned out from the beginning" really means, though. Eliezer ends up retconning things relatively frequently, so I wouldn't be surprised if he had a plot point like "Voldemort captures Harry" followed by "Harry escapes", but with too few details in between to make the logic ironclad.

If HPMoR was a conventional book, then Eliezer would have a lot of time to edit it and make all the retcons behind the scenes -- even fairly major ones -- but it isn't, so he can't.

Comment by bugmaster on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 113 · 2015-02-28T20:52:25.225Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

No, I was serious, sorry. But, seeing as I believe that Eliezer is human like the rest of us, I think it's entirely plausible that he ran out of ideas (or, at least, out of good ideas) -- kind of analogous to writing a program so clever that the author cannot debug it...

Comment by bugmaster on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 113 · 2015-02-28T20:42:55.783Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I only read 3WC after the fact, so I can't comment on that one. But I don't recall him saying "...solve this problem or you get the bad ending" in he previous HPMoR chapters...

Comment by bugmaster on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 113 · 2015-02-28T20:33:11.955Z · score: -5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Disappointing. It appears as though Eliezer wrote himself into a corner, and is now looking for help from the readers...

Comment by bugmaster on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 109 · 2015-02-24T03:55:11.870Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

They couldn't easily check every possibility and see if it's consistent.

Why not ? It's not like the laws of our space-time apply to them or anything.

Comment by bugmaster on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 109 · 2015-02-24T02:21:13.746Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I don't know if he put it into exactly those terms, but a). Harry points out a lot of things that aren't true, like "you can't turn into a cat", and b). if the laws of reality are simulated, then they don't have to make sense; they could just be a giant "switch" statement somewhere in the Atlantean VM code.

Comment by bugmaster on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 109 · 2015-02-24T00:04:03.280Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Product placement at its finest...

Comment by bugmaster on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 109 · 2015-02-23T22:10:06.446Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Either that, or the world where HPMOR takes place is just one among many realms within the Mirror; i.e., the Simulation Argument is true, and the Atlanteans are the Matrix Lords. This explain the weird and inconsistent magic rules: they are just artificial constructs that the Atlanteans came up with on a lark.

Comment by bugmaster on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 109 · 2015-02-23T21:11:55.857Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Also, nice Duane shout-out.

As well as the Mass Effect shout-out. ASSUMING DIRECT CONTROL.

Comment by bugmaster on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 109 · 2015-02-23T21:01:23.543Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, and I am kind of surprised that neither Quirrellmort nor Harry thought of reversing the letters. I mean, we are dealing with a magical mirror here. How is this not the first thing they've tried ?

Comment by bugmaster on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 108 · 2015-02-21T01:18:08.443Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Killing him would be a grave mistake.

As far as I understand, Quirrell believes (or claims to believe) that killing Harry will put him one step closer to fulfilling his CEV. Thus, any amusement Harry could provide is to Quirrel kind of like as ice cream is to us mortals: a minor, fleeting, and ultimately inconsequential pleasure.

Comment by bugmaster on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapters 105-107 · 2015-02-19T04:25:11.717Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Maybe Quirrel and Harry are just individual vectors in a massively parallel multiverse-spanning genetic algorithm, designed to produce the ultimate Tom Riddle.

Comment by bugmaster on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapters 105-107 · 2015-02-19T04:18:14.626Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Oddly enough I really like LOTR as well as The Silmarillion... So maybe I should give this Gormenghast thing another shot, I don't know.

I think the difference between LOTR/Simlarillion and Gormenghast is that Tolkien's books contain well-crafted language and descriptions of scenery that are punctuated by moments of sheer epic overload; whereas Gormenghast contains the former but not the latter.

But again, I haven't made it that far into it, so I could be wrong.

Comment by bugmaster on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapters 105-107 · 2015-02-19T00:36:07.636Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I started reading the first book, but stopped about 20% of the way in (may have been less, it's been a while since then), because I found it stupefyingly boring. Does that trilogy get any better later on ?

Comment by bugmaster on I tried my hardest to win in an AI box experiment, and I failed. Here are the logs. · 2015-01-30T22:25:57.719Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Also there are great number of possibilities that even the smartest persons could not even imagine, but powerful Superintelligence could.

I think that, if you want to discuss the notion of the Superintelligent in any kind of a rational way, it is useful to make a distinction between "the Superintelligent can do things we can't", and "the Superintelligence is literally omnipotent". If the latter is true, then any meaningful discussion of it is impossible -- for the same set of reasons that meaningful discussion of the omni-everything Christian god is impossible.

Comment by bugmaster on Open thread, Jan. 12 - Jan. 18, 2015 · 2015-01-16T01:38:34.155Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I would say it's a combination of being at the wrong company, and our education system being inadequate to the task.

There are many skills that are required in order to write complex software. You need to know how to organize your code in a maintainable and comprehensible way (Design Patterns, build/package systems, abstraction layers, even simple stuff like UML). You need to know how to find bugs in one's own code as well as in code written by other people (using debuggers, reading stack traces, writing logs, applying basic deductive reasoning). When you get stuck, you need to know how to get help efficiently (reading documentation, understanding the jargon, knowing exactly which questions to ask, knowing whom to ask them to).

None of these skills are considered "sexy"; and, in fact, most scientists and mathematicians that I've worked with in the past don't even recognize them as skills at all. Their attitude usually is, "don't bother me with your bureaucratic design pattern bullshit, I wrote a 3000-line method that calculates an MDS plot and it works, what more do you want". But the problem is that, without such skills, you will never be able to create anything more than a quick one-off script that performs one specific calculation and then quits.

My advice would be as follows.

Firstly, figure out what you actually want to do. Do you want to invent algorithms for other people to implement, or do you want to write software yourself ? There's nothing wrong with either choice, but you need to consciously make the choice to begin with.

Secondly, if you do want to learn software engineering, find some people at your company who are already experienced software engineers. Ask them for a list of books or online tutorials to read (most likely, they'll recommend the Design Patterns book, so you might as well start with that). After reading (or, let's be realistic here, skimming) the books, ask them to sit down with you for a couple of hours in order to review your code -- even, and especially, the code that actually works. Listen to their input, and refactor your code according to their recommendations. When you have a bug, make sure you've tried everything you could think of, and then ask them to sit down with you and walk you through the steps of diagnosing it.

Thirdly, if there are no such people at your current company, or if they flat-out refuse to help you... then find a better company :-(

Comment by bugmaster on Rationality Quotes December 2014 · 2014-12-16T22:24:53.530Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

If you join a cult, then even your physical survival will suddenly become a lot more perilous. You will likely have to conform, or die. Keep that in mind.

Comment by bugmaster on Open thread, Dec. 8 - Dec. 15, 2014 · 2014-12-10T20:10:28.910Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I was wondering that too; personally, I have no idea how to even begin answering the question. It would seem that at least some protests do work, as evidenced by the civil rights movement during the Martin Luther King era; but I don't know if this is true in general.

Comment by bugmaster on Kickstarting the audio version of the upcoming book "The Sequences" · 2014-12-10T20:08:22.973Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Ok, in the spirit of rationality and openness, I have to admit: I'd love to get most of the audiobook volumes, but $50 is too rich for my blood. Is there a way you guys could introduce a cheaper option ? Something like, "All of the Sequences except for the Quantum Physics ones" for something like $25..$30 ?

Comment by bugmaster on Rationality Quotes November 2014 · 2014-12-09T18:07:51.499Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

That doesn't cover artillery, unlike the word "gun".

Comment by bugmaster on Does utilitarianism "require" extreme self sacrifice? If not why do people commonly say it does? · 2014-12-09T08:58:10.524Z · score: -3 (11 votes) · LW · GW

The word "utilitarianism" technically means something like, "an algorithm for determining whether any given action should or should not be undertaken, given some predetermined utility function". However, when most people think of utilitarianism, they usually have a very specific utility function in mind. Taken together, the algorithm and the function do indeed imply certain "ethical obligations", which are somewhat tautologically defined as "doing whatever maximizes this utility function".

In general, the word "utilitarian" has been effectively re-defined in common speech as something like, "ruthlessly efficient to the point of extreme ugliness", so utilitarianism gets the horns effect from that.

Comment by bugmaster on PSA: Eugine_Nier evading ban? · 2014-12-09T08:25:53.642Z · score: 8 (24 votes) · LW · GW

I downvoted this post not because I hate you, or because I love Eugine_Nier (o), but because I'd like to see fewer post like this one in the future. And I think that expressing my sentiment is what the "Downvote" button is for.

More specifically, I don't think that public shaming and witch hunts belong on Less Wrong, even when the person being hunted is actually a witch (oo). I think that the toxic culture such tactics create is likely to be more harmful than individual unruly posters, in the long term.

(o) I don't even remember who he is, though the name does sound familiar.
(oo) Metaphorically speaking.

Comment by bugmaster on Rationality Quotes November 2014 · 2014-12-09T04:28:29.608Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I think that "прикол" is closer to "amusing" than to "fun". "клёво" is more like "cool". And I always thought that "пиздец" was universally bad, something akin to "game over, man ! game over !" -- but words do change over time...

Comment by bugmaster on Rationality Quotes November 2014 · 2014-12-09T04:23:18.085Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I think the more proper translation of "it depends" would be "как сказать".

Also, while it is true that the Russian language has no word for "privacy", note that it also has no word for "gun" :-)

Comment by bugmaster on 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2014-10-28T03:21:09.546Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It didn't do much for me :-(

If there's no way for me to figure out whether there's a chocolate cake inside of the Sun or not, then I might as well assume there's no cake, because this makes the math easier. I see MWI vs. no MWI the same way, but apparently that's the wrong answer...

Comment by bugmaster on 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2014-10-27T23:20:23.869Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

That's what I thought too, and apparently I was wrong...

Comment by bugmaster on 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2014-10-27T22:45:43.181Z · score: 27 (27 votes) · LW · GW

FWIW, I said I "strongly disagree" with Feminism and Social Justice, even though I find their Wikipedia descriptions generally agreeable. I think in the future, it would be good to split those questions into pairs: a) "Do you agree with the stated mission goals of X ?", and b). "Do you agree with the actions of people who identify as X ?"

Comment by bugmaster on On Caring · 2014-10-08T23:20:18.513Z · score: 2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

You are saying that shminux is "a worse person than you" and also "heartless", but I am not sure what these words mean. How do you measure which person is better as compared to another person ? If the answer is, "whoever cares about more people is better", then all you're saying is, "shminux cares about fewer people because he cares about fewer people". This is true, but tautologically so.

Comment by bugmaster on Open thread, 25-31 August 2014 · 2014-09-11T00:56:54.364Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I could be wrong, but didn't Darwin actually formulate some hypotheses, and then go out there and count finches (and other things) to see if his predictions were true ? I think that's why his success rate was so much better (though, admittedly, not perfect): he conducted experiments in the real world, using real math.

Also, Freud did some kind of experiments. He was not merely a philosopher, he also cured people, and it seemed to him that his theories work. But he didn't have a control group, etc.

How did he know if his theories actually worked, then ? Was he even making his patients better in any way (as compared to other patients who saw other doctors, or perhaps no doctors at all) ?

Comment by bugmaster on Open thread, 25-31 August 2014 · 2014-09-09T20:43:44.228Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Sorry, it gets difficult to keep all the commenting systems straight after a while.