Comment by cabalamat on How likely is Peter Thiel's investment into seasteading to pay off? · 2011-09-03T11:52:14.730Z · LW · GW

Egypt and Israel were at peace the way the US and the Soviet Union were at peace

From what you've said earlier you apparently believe that the USSR was a client state of the USA.

So I can only conclude that you believe either (1) that Israel is a client state of Egypt or (2) that Egypt is a client state of Israel. I regard either of these two interpretations as bizarre, but no more bizarre than thnings you've said on this thread.

Frankly I at a loss to understand you.

Comment by cabalamat on Edinburgh LW Meetup Saturday April 16th · 2011-04-09T05:59:34.488Z · LW · GW

I will be there.

Comment by cabalamat on A hypothetical candidate walks into a hypothetical job interview... · 2010-11-12T13:42:16.765Z · LW · GW

If it's OK for the religious to discriminate against people, it ought also to be OK for people to discriminate against the religious.

Comment by cabalamat on Reason as memetic immune disorder · 2010-10-29T15:05:53.952Z · LW · GW

The kid in Detroit has no possible way of knowing how much of what they see is genetic versus environmental

Surely they could very easily observe that people with dark skin typically have parents with dark skin.

Comment by cabalamat on Rational Terrorism or Why shouldn't we burn down tobacco fields? · 2010-10-03T01:08:03.972Z · LW · GW

A topical real-life example of this is the DDoS attacks that Anonymous are making against various companies that pursue/sue people for alleged illegal file sharing.

I make no comment on the morality of this, but it seems to be effective in practise, at least some of the time, for example it may lead to the demise of the law firm ACS:law.

Comment by cabalamat on Rational Terrorism or Why shouldn't we burn down tobacco fields? · 2010-10-03T00:59:32.341Z · LW · GW

Yet you SIAI S^ invite these proponents of global suicide by AI, K-type S^, to your conferences and give them standing ovations.

This seems to me a good strategy for SIAI people to persuade K-type people to join them.

Comment by cabalamat on Politics as Charity · 2010-09-27T02:46:35.402Z · LW · GW

Bush did not kill 10 billion current people (at $1,000 per life) and he massively increased health-oriented foreign aid to Africa

Bush wasn't a candidate in the 2008 presidential election, so it itself it's irrelevant what he did or didn't do. (Of course, you could make the meta argument that a Republican president is likely to behave similarly to another Republican president).

Comment by cabalamat on More art, less stink: Taking the PU out of PUA · 2010-09-15T12:32:05.680Z · LW · GW

What's so wrong with an open-source program to help people become "Less Awkward"?

Learning new stuff often involves making mistakes until one gets it right. I imagine that if this community was created, many posts would be of the form "I did X recently and it went wrong; what could I have done better?"

Making mistakes in social situations is something that many find embarrassing, so they might want any such field reports not to become public knowledge. Hence, confidentiality may be necessary for people to talk openly.

Comment by cabalamat on Fight Zero-Sum Bias · 2010-07-18T19:56:02.378Z · LW · GW

Remember, the point of evolution is not to survive for as long as possible, it is to f**k as much as possible (for a male).

No, and it's not even to have as many offspring as possible. It's to have as many copies of his genes in future members of the species.

Consider to male proto-humans, Adam and Bob. Adam has sex with his sister, they have 6 children, but all die without reproducing.

Bob never has sex, but is a good uncle to his brothers' and sisters' kids, 4 more of which survive to reproduce than would have done without his interventions.

Which one was more effective at passing on his genes?

Comment by cabalamat on Fight Zero-Sum Bias · 2010-07-18T19:52:23.295Z · LW · GW

"Everyone's special, Dash." Dash: "Which is another way of saying no one is."

Exactly. A person can only be high status by being higher-status than someone else; so one person's high status must lead to another person's low status. So status must be zero-sum.

Comment by cabalamat on High Status and Stupidity: Why? · 2010-01-13T01:42:50.672Z · LW · GW

I see no evidence that the customers featured in Not Always Right are otherwise bright and competent.

Comment by cabalamat on Boksops -- Ancient Superintelligence? · 2010-01-05T07:39:12.469Z · LW · GW

Neanderthals were, in all likelihood, smarter than Homo sapiens

We're here and they're not, which suggests to me they weren't smarter than us.

Comment by cabalamat on Max Tegmark on our place in history: "We're Not Insignificant After All" · 2010-01-05T07:30:23.698Z · LW · GW

If we follow straight revealed preference, we have to conclude that people have huge discount rates on distance or time, or to put it more straightforwardly, they are simply indifferent about what happens in nearly all of the universe.

Maybe they just think that they can't affect what happens very much.

Comment by cabalamat on Drawing Two Aces · 2010-01-05T07:19:37.230Z · LW · GW

The probability is 1/5 (as independently calculated by me). I've no idea if argument 2 is correct, because I don't understand it. My reasoning:

There are 6 combinations of 2 cards: AsAh, As2c, As2d, Ah2c, Ah2d, 2c2d.

Of these, only the first 3 (AsAh, As2c, As2d) could I have answered yes to both questions (assuming I'm not lying, wihch is outside the context).

But if I have AsAh, only 1/2 the time would I have answered yes to the second question. So AsAh needs 1/2 the weight of the other 2 possibilities.

So the probability is (1/2)/(2+1/2) = 1/5.

Comment by cabalamat on New Year's Predictions Thread · 2010-01-01T19:32:33.890Z · LW · GW

I think it's more likely people will say "too vague a prediction".

Comment by cabalamat on New Year's Predictions Thread · 2010-01-01T19:20:10.324Z · LW · GW

Moore's Law exists not because there's some magic about semiconductors, but because the market is sized and structured such that you need to sell people a new system every 2 years, and you need to double performance to get people to buy a new system.

I disagree.

I am typing this on a machine I bought 6 years ago. Its CPU speed is still competitive with current hardware. This lack of speedup is not because processor manufacturers chaven't been trying to make processors faster; they have. The reason for the lack of speedup is that it is hard to do. The problem is more to do with the nature of physical reality than the structure and economics of the computer industry.

Consider cars. They do not halve in price every two years. Why not? Because they are designed to move people around, and people are roughly the same size they have always been. But computers move bits around, and bits can be made very small (both in terms of the size of circuitry and the power dissipated); this is the fundamental reason why the computer/communications industry has been able to halve prices / double capabilities every year or two for the last half century.

Comment by cabalamat on New Year's Predictions Thread · 2010-01-01T18:58:38.882Z · LW · GW

My second prediction is that the largest area of impact from technological change over the next decade will come from increasing communications bandwidth.

And distributed to more people. >60% of people will have at least 1 Mb/s internet access by 2020 (75%).

Comment by cabalamat on New Year's Predictions Thread · 2010-01-01T18:55:24.611Z · LW · GW

Aren't these more likely to be done by libraries than languages?

I'd think it likely that it will be some XML variant.

I hope not. Something like JSON is far less verbose.

Comment by cabalamat on New Year's Predictions Thread · 2010-01-01T18:51:24.933Z · LW · GW

China is the 2nd biggest economy in 2020 (99%). Note I'm counting the EU as lots of countries, not as one big economy. Counting the EU together, China will be the 3rd biggest.

Pirate Parties will have been in government for a time in at least one country by 2020 (90%)

Pirate Parties will win >=10 seats in the European parliament in 2014 (75%), and <=30 seats (75%).

The Conservatives will win a majority the next UK general election (60%), there will be no overal majority (37%), or any other outcome (3%).

Comment by cabalamat on New Year's Predictions Thread · 2010-01-01T18:41:59.921Z · LW · GW

A US state will secede (30%).

I don't see that happening -- which one or ones do you think are most likely to leave?

Scotland may well leave the UK (10%), or the UK leave the EU (15%).

Comment by cabalamat on On the Power of Intelligence and Rationality · 2009-12-24T16:02:13.645Z · LW · GW

So can rationality work on a large scale? Arguably, it always does work. I rarely hear political or social arguments that are obviously (to everyone) pure hokum. If you look at how the last 4 U.S. presidents campaigned, it was always on "save you money" talking points and "less waste, more justice" platform. All rational things in the mind of the average person.

Sure. What's not rational is to believe that politicians will deliver on the promise of reducing waste. All politicians say they will do it, and have done for a long time, but governments are not noticable less wasteful than they were 50 or so years ago.

It's therefore irrational to believe a politician when they say they will cut waste, unless they say in detail how they will do so (which they usually don't).

Comment by cabalamat on On the Power of Intelligence and Rationality · 2009-12-24T15:51:58.048Z · LW · GW

Intelligence certainly has a practical threshold. If you have no intelligence at all you cannot thrive in a world of computers, pens, clothing, dishwashers... On the other hand, technology has allowed some areas to lower their intelligence thresholds. People who have severe mental disabilities can function in relatively normal lifestyles.

I'm not sure what you mean by "relatively normal". In countries like the UK and USA, about 20% of the adult population are said to be functionally illiterate. In a world where a normal lifestyle is rapidly coming to include using the internet, where applying for entry-level jobs can only be done online, these people are going to have major difficulties coping. This may well be a significant social issue in coming decades.

Comment by cabalamat on On the Power of Intelligence and Rationality · 2009-12-24T15:26:39.333Z · LW · GW

Nations used violence when it was effective and they wouldn't get in trouble with other, more powerful nations. Nuclear weapons simply changed how much trouble they'd get into

The major change that nuclear weapons have brought to international affairs is not that the weaker party in a conflict gets into more trouble, it's that the stronger party does too. There is not much to be gained from fighting a war when, even if you win, your major cities are destroyed.

Comment by cabalamat on On the Power of Intelligence and Rationality · 2009-12-24T15:23:38.483Z · LW · GW

"On a separate point, while the Nazis had some crazy beliefs, they still excelled in a number of important areas." Agreed, but what I was saying was that none of these areas involved general intelligence, science, rationality or deliberative reasoning.

Hitler was known to go over his speeches in retrospect with Goebbels, and note which bits worked and which didn't, so he could make better speeches in future. I regard this as involving deliberative reasoning and general intelligence; there's even an element of the scientific method in it.

Comment by cabalamat on On the Power of Intelligence and Rationality · 2009-12-24T15:04:58.127Z · LW · GW

They had twenty thousand people who were armed with rifles, which means that, even if they had a backwards culture, their technology was very far from Neolithic.

Even if you disregard the rifles, the Ndebele were not a neolithic culture, since they worked iron.

Comment by cabalamat on Two Truths and a Lie · 2009-12-23T21:23:35.177Z · LW · GW

OK, so my favorite man-with-a-hammer du jour is the "everyone does everything for selfish reasons" view of the world. If you give money to charity, you do it for the fuzzy feeling, not because you are altruistic.

That's not a disagreement about the nature of the world, it's a disagreement about the meaning of the word "altruistic".

Comment by cabalamat on Contrarianism and reference class forecasting · 2009-11-29T12:51:15.754Z · LW · GW

Culturally the collapse did take longer in some places

It'd argue that culturally the Roman Empire didn't end: today 200 million Europeans (and even more outside Europe) speak languages descended from Latin; to a first approximation, all writing is in the Roman script; and the Roman Catholic Church is the largest religion in areas and populations much greater than ancient Rome.

Oh and that last paragraph included c.15 words derived from Latin.

Comment by cabalamat on Less Wrong Q&A with Eliezer Yudkowsky: Ask Your Questions · 2009-11-13T05:42:28.450Z · LW · GW

OK I misinterpreted you. What do you mean when you say "open"?

Comment by cabalamat on Less Wrong Q&A with Eliezer Yudkowsky: Ask Your Questions · 2009-11-13T03:39:14.747Z · LW · GW

Ruling out unpopular measures is tantamount to giving up on your job as a politician

On the contrary, NOT ruling out unpopular measures is tantamount to giving up your job as a politician because, if the measure is unpopular enough (1) you won't get the measure passed in the first place, and (2) you won't get re-elected

the equivalent of an individual ruling out any avenues to achieving their goals that require some effort.

You're saying it's lazy to require that policies be practical. I say that on the contrary it's lazy not to require them to be practical. It's easy to come up with ideas that're a good thing but which can't be practically realised, but it takes more effort to come up with ideas that're a good thing and which can be practically realised. I co-founded Pirate Party UK precisely because I think it's a practical way of getting the state to apply sensible laws to the internet, instead of just going ahead with whatever freedom-destroying nonsense the entertainment industry is coming up this week to prevent "piracy".

computing which course of action including those we have no taste for yields the highest expected utility

Courses of action that can't be implemented yield zero or negative utility.

The rest is demagoguery.

There's an element of truth in that, but I'd put it differently: its the difference between leadership and followership. Politicians in democracies frequently engage in the latter.

Comment by cabalamat on Less Wrong Q&A with Eliezer Yudkowsky: Ask Your Questions · 2009-11-13T03:12:35.104Z · LW · GW

Unlimited immigration clearly fails the practicality test, regardless of whether it's a good thing or not.

Comment by cabalamat on Less Wrong Q&A with Eliezer Yudkowsky: Ask Your Questions · 2009-11-13T03:10:55.258Z · LW · GW

Gay marriage is already legal in Scotland, albeit under the name "civil partnership".

Comment by cabalamat on Less Wrong Q&A with Eliezer Yudkowsky: Ask Your Questions · 2009-11-12T03:59:43.180Z · LW · GW

What practical policies could politicians enact that would increase overall utility? When I say "practical", I'm specifically ruling out policies that would increase utility but which would be unpopular, since no democratic polity would implement them.

(The background to this question is that I stand a reasonable chance of being elected to the Scottish Parliament in 19 months time).

Comment by cabalamat on Less Wrong Q&A with Eliezer Yudkowsky: Ask Your Questions · 2009-11-12T03:46:51.164Z · LW · GW

Once almost no one understood the concept of a bell curve or a standard deviation, but now the average person has a basic understanding of how these concepts apply to the real world.

I suspect that, on the contrary, >50% of the population have very little idea what either term means.

Comment by cabalamat on The Sword of Good · 2009-09-03T09:45:28.947Z · LW · GW

Depends whether they want soldiers who think. But yeah, expand the whole thing into a book and it would make a great moral story.

Comment by cabalamat on The Sword of Good · 2009-09-03T09:44:18.879Z · LW · GW

Also, "rainment" should be "raiment".

Comment by cabalamat on With whom shall I diavlog? · 2009-06-04T21:50:45.937Z · LW · GW

Charles Stross.

(Namedrop) If I see him down the pub tonight, I might mention it to him.

Comment by cabalamat on This Failing Earth · 2009-05-25T18:16:48.261Z · LW · GW

The Flynn effect (higher IQs across time) is entirely compatible with the observation that educational standards are falling, which does appear to be the case, at least in some countries for some subjects. For example or

Comment by cabalamat on This Failing Earth · 2009-05-25T18:11:10.506Z · LW · GW

There are two other reasons why it's harder to conquer countries now than then.

  1. people are more squeamish now; using Nazi levels of brutality in putting down rebellions would attract consideral moral opprobrium

  2. wealth now comes from highly skilled information workers, who must be at least partly free if they are to be productive; whereas in the past wealth came from farmland, raw materials, and unskilled labourers. The level of repression necessary to hold a territory (and people) against its will is likely to make the acquired terroritory unproductive.

Comment by cabalamat on Positive Bias Test (C++ program) · 2009-05-21T02:21:52.418Z · LW · GW

One advantage of the executable is that you don't lose a record of your previous questions and answers. I think this is crucial, and ought to be included in a webbed version as well.


Comment by cabalamat on You Are A Brain · 2009-05-10T15:48:47.013Z · LW · GW

The current wording implicitly suggests that the normative human is sexually attracted to women

The wording "you might feel aroused anyway" suggests no such thing. "Might" carries no implication that P>0.5, merely that P>0.

The next sentence "So your feeling of horniness is not connected to what’s in reality", however does tend to imply the default is sexual attraction to women. It's also untrue: the pixels on the screen are real, they just happen not to be a different reality (Jessica Alba being in the room).

Comment by cabalamat on Return of the Survey · 2009-05-04T19:44:09.662Z · LW · GW

I don't regard the UK Labour Party as being permissive on social issues -- for example they recently criminalised BDSM porn, and plan to introduce ID cards and monitor everyone's Internet activity.

Comment by cabalamat on Return of the Survey · 2009-05-04T19:30:30.611Z · LW · GW

Yes, I'm a karmawhore too :-)

Comment by cabalamat on The Craft and the Community · 2009-04-28T03:08:51.077Z · LW · GW

Why should rationalists necessarily care a lot about other people?

They shouldn't, particularly. End goals are not a part of rationality, rationality exists to achieve them.

However, many end goals can be more easily achieved by getting help from others. If your end goals are like this, it's rational for you to solve group coordination problems and care about other people.

Comment by cabalamat on Rational Groups Kick Ass · 2009-04-25T18:04:51.087Z · LW · GW

If groups magnify the effectiveness of rational thinking, what would an entire community or nation of rationalists be like? And how could such an outcome be achieved?

Comment by cabalamat on The ideas you're not ready to post · 2009-04-20T17:44:47.879Z · LW · GW

Theism is the first, and oldest problem. We have freed ourselves from it, yes, but that does not mean we have solved it. There are still churches.

Indeed. When a community contains more than a critical number of theists, their irrational decision making can harm themselves and the whole community. By deconverting theists, we help them and everyone else.

I'd like to see a discussion on the best ways to deconvert theists.

Comment by cabalamat on The uniquely awful example of theism · 2009-04-10T17:06:00.922Z · LW · GW

I suspect that for large numbers of politicians -- probably the maqjority -- the question of whether a proposition is true doesn't really interest them all that much. They are more interested in whether a proposition will win or lose them votes. If they think it'll lose votes, they won't agree with it, and most lack the intellectual curiousity to care whether it is true.

Comment by cabalamat on The uniquely awful example of theism · 2009-04-10T16:59:26.904Z · LW · GW

You're right. Religion really is distilled, purified essence of bullshit.

Comment by cabalamat on Church vs. Taskforce · 2009-03-28T14:03:51.139Z · LW · GW

At least for now, most people are not atheists/rationalists. Atheism may seem to be a crazy behaviour to a lot of people! So maybe one can signal commitment by publically associating oneself with an atheist/rationalist organisation.

Comment by cabalamat on Terrorism is not about Terror · 2009-03-24T20:48:17.902Z · LW · GW

Terrorism is partly about socialising, but I don't think that can be the whole story, for two reasons:

  • If terrorism is just about socialising why don't they just go down the pub or whatever -- it's far less likely to get you killed or banged up.

  • Socialising is a human universal, so what makes different societies have different amounts of terrorism?

Comment by cabalamat on Closet survey #1 · 2009-03-14T15:00:10.934Z · LW · GW

Is this belief falsifiable? If not, is it meaningful?