The Ethics of AI and Its Effect On Us 2016-06-30T02:18:29.921Z
Link: Interesting Video About Automation and the Singularity 2014-11-12T06:31:42.202Z
Do Virtual Humans deserve human rights? 2014-09-11T19:20:14.514Z


Comment by cameroncowan on Lesswrong 2016 Survey · 2016-04-21T23:47:54.360Z · LW · GW

I took the survey for the 2nd year in a row. Can't wait to see the results.

Comment by cameroncowan on LessWrong 2.0 · 2015-12-12T23:08:53.268Z · LW · GW

There are a few thoughts here. I mostly came here to read and educate myself on the rationality movement and this sort of thing. I think that LW is a tremendous resource of information and that that information should be collected as a resource and transported to a place like Medium where it can be read and experienced. I think it is very intimidating and I think everything can be organized into three broad categories: Philosophy, Technical, Theoretical

In short, it's time for some media organization and distribution in such a way that people can experience it in a holistic way.

I think it's also time to do some marketing and reach out. What is our message? How can we articulate that message? How can we organize around CFAR and MIRI to do that? It's not just AI but rationality in general. Groups are helpful but there is plenty of online resources to allow people to interact in their own way and make small contributions through conversation. It's not just improving this platform but making the amazing work that is happening here accessible as best we can. When someone writes something technical an effort can and should be made to create that as something much more for people to take in and incorporation. The Sequences are intimidating, how can we break that down into something digestible?

As for community, groups are a good idea to foster and support but creating online accountability groups and such can also be helpful. A social network aspect of this may be helpful as well. How can we provide support for a rationality community? How can we foster greater contributions?

As for helping people I think it's digestible articles, video, and blog posts that have to be created in order to make it really accessible in a fun and exciting way that people can actually use. Could we create some teams for this?

Just putting out ideas here. I think there can be life in LW if we create something new and novel.

I know I quit commenting because there just wasn't much going on.

Comment by cameroncowan on Monthly Bragging Thread October 2015 · 2015-10-06T20:07:58.388Z · LW · GW

I took more leisure time away from the big business of The Cameron Cowan Show.

Comment by cameroncowan on FAI and the Information Theory of Pleasure · 2015-09-28T23:35:56.752Z · LW · GW

And I guess I'm saying that the sooner we think about these sorts of things the better off we'll be. Going for pleasure good/suffering bad reduced the mindset of AI to about 2 years old. Cultural context gives us a sense of maturity Valence or no.

Comment by cameroncowan on The Temptation to Bubble · 2015-09-26T05:16:38.390Z · LW · GW

You should read The Big Sort by Bill Bishop, he talks about how in America we are literally and physically moving towards areas that favor our political and social ideas. This makes local control easy and national control impossible.

Comment by cameroncowan on Future of Life Institute is hiring · 2015-09-26T05:15:47.513Z · LW · GW

I can't apply for the News Editor job as I am too busy with my own work but I would like to contribute and perhaps help with promotion across The Cameron Cowan Show network. Let's chat:

Comment by cameroncowan on FAI and the Information Theory of Pleasure · 2015-09-26T05:14:25.655Z · LW · GW

Where is the cultural context in all of this? How does that play in? Pain and pleasure here in the West is different than in the East just as value systems are different. When it comes to creating AGI I think a central set of agreed upon tenets are important. What is valuable? How can we quantify that in a way that makes sense to create AGI? If we want to reward it for doing good things, we have to consider cultural validation. We don't steal, murder or assault people because we have significant cultural incentive not to do so, especially if you live in a stable country. I think that could help. If we can somehow show group approval of the AGI, like favorable opinions, verbal validation and other things that I intrinsically values as we do. We could use our own culture to reinforce norms within it's archetecture.

Comment by cameroncowan on Why Don't Rationalists Win? · 2015-09-26T05:10:25.428Z · LW · GW

We are the people who knew too much.....

Comment by cameroncowan on Words per person year and intellectual rigor · 2015-08-29T04:15:13.147Z · LW · GW

What is your measure? Does it stem from the lack of satisfaction in their work? Their lack of analysis? I feel like word count is not necessary. Zizek is also very accessible because he works in Lacanian psychoanalysis....I need more data!

Comment by cameroncowan on Help Build a Landing Page for Existential Risk? · 2015-08-08T06:57:38.058Z · LW · GW

I would like to talk to you more about this for my blog. Please msg me.

Comment by cameroncowan on Effects of Castration on the Life Expectancy of Contemporary Men · 2015-08-08T06:55:43.556Z · LW · GW

I think it's generally a good thing to try diet and exercise before having one's manhood removed for a longer life. And according to your data, it wouldn't do most of us much good on account of the fact that a majority, if not all, of the men on this site are already well past puberty. However, this was an interesting journey.

Comment by cameroncowan on Base your self-esteem on your rationality · 2015-08-08T06:50:56.387Z · LW · GW

I would say at least in cursory observations of people that is true, but then I also think there is environmental considerations. Broken people tend to hang out together creating a greater case for it. Well-adjusted people tend to hang out with like people. I'm sure that if I were a totally well-adjusted person and hung out with less damaged souls then I would have an idea of it being far lower or very exceptional. Whereas, because I tend to hang out with people that have similar backgrounds to my own it seems higher. Its the fish tank effect.

Comment by cameroncowan on Base your self-esteem on your rationality · 2015-07-24T04:09:35.518Z · LW · GW

Self-esteem is just how you think about yourself and how you view your interaction with the world as well as the conceptions you have of yourself that make up your internal dialogue about yourself. It is deeply cultural and is also based on a host of things like how you grew up, your perceived gender, and much more. If you don't have a very high opinion of yourself it can be hell to raise it. In fact, I would say that if you don't start out with a decent amount of self-esteem it's about impossible to build back up. Indeed the old saying goes, "It's easier to raise quality kids than fix broken adults."

Comment by cameroncowan on Base your self-esteem on your rationality · 2015-07-24T04:07:04.335Z · LW · GW

We aren't always rational, we do things that make us comfortable and keep us safe and able to function. I think if we died our ego and super ego to rationality we all might as well have a mass suicide party and go together because that's about the mood we would all be in.

Comment by cameroncowan on Base your self-esteem on your rationality · 2015-07-24T04:05:36.029Z · LW · GW

I think this stems from the idea that, "I'm ok" which is the basis of most people's conception of themselves. As long as they are, "OK" then their opinions stem from that simple idea. In order to change that you have to give them something compelling that will leave them being "OK" (or safe) but will modulate their opinion on things. It really has to do with what motivates people and how they look at the world around them. Then, you have to meet them where they are in their experience. I can deliver a message 9 different ways and get 9 different responses. At scale that's huge. This is why we have so many channels and so many ways of saying the same thing. I know people that will never like black people because they got harassed in highschool. Look at how insular the techworld is to non-tech people and people of color. Think about communities where people focus on personal development and advancement. All in all, none of this will change until you understand what motivates people and make your argument align with where they live and realize that there are some people that will never change because to give up their beliefs means that they might die/not exist in their private internal space of, "I'm ok."

My mother would rather keep her prinicples of being against homosexuality than accept her son for who I am. That's just life.

Comment by cameroncowan on Welcome to Less Wrong! (8th thread, July 2015) · 2015-07-24T03:38:30.594Z · LW · GW

I think I've caused enough kerfluffles around here that many people know me but I'm Cameron. I've been on the site almost a year I think. BA and MA in Political Science. I have a regular interest in philosophy and I found out about the site from a disparaging article on I'm one of the weird spiritual people on her practicing western esoterica. In the past I've worked in media and PR. Currently, I'm a novelist in Tacoma, WA, USA and host of The Cameron Cowan Show, every monday and friday on youtube (fresh shows in August!) For more information, clips and All The News You Need To Know In 10 Minutes or Less (and why you should care about it), see me at! Thanks for reading!

Comment by cameroncowan on Learning takes a long time · 2015-06-05T04:38:40.346Z · LW · GW

Let me approach this from another angle. I've been playing the flute since I was 5. Counting the several competitions and the 5 hours a day I used to practice. I've spent more than 10K hours. I probably passed that when I was 12 or 13. I've now gotten to the place where I can go for a few weeks at a time and then pick up the flute and be able to play it with aplomb and ease without degradation in skill. Learning does take a long time and even though music is/was still my life, it can be a slog and there isn't really a faster way to do it especially on very complicated things (like being a novelist) because of the nature of forging the new pathways in our brains.

In my mind this is a great argument for broad-based classical education that touches on a variety of subjects and lets students then specialize in a field of study. It gets your brain ready for learning, gives you plenty of knowledge and helps you with your communication skills so that you can do what I do: explain really complicated things to a general audience. It also gives you the chance to speak knowledgeably with other knowledge brokers. In some ways, that is what our society has lost with excess specialization. Look at this site, how many people would benefit from a holistic education in philosophy but are unwilling to put in the hours and study it takes to learn about the conundrums of philosophy?

I think is a great argument for broad education.

Comment by cameroncowan on How to learn soft skills · 2015-02-09T09:41:27.250Z · LW · GW

I'm glad you're talking about this because I spent a good deal of Highschool (age about 15-18) working on how I related with people and social situations and now I do it with aplomb, grace, and ease. Very good!

Comment by cameroncowan on Open thread, Jan. 19 - Jan. 25, 2015 · 2015-01-20T05:22:52.673Z · LW · GW

Oxford's Rhetoric could be helpful in this area.

Comment by cameroncowan on Open thread, Jan. 19 - Jan. 25, 2015 · 2015-01-20T05:21:31.222Z · LW · GW

Digg is good for me.

Comment by cameroncowan on Open thread, Jan. 19 - Jan. 25, 2015 · 2015-01-20T05:13:34.934Z · LW · GW

Each experience has its own difficulties that are unknown unless you've lived it.

Comment by cameroncowan on Understanding Who You Really Are · 2015-01-05T05:07:57.930Z · LW · GW

Maybe a better question then would be, "How do you identify?" Philosophically the question is far from bullshit. The question is to make you analyze what is yours (what have you actually decided to do) over what society, peers, or family have told you that you should be. We like to play this game on freshmen philosophy students because most of them haven't yet analyzed their entire life to figure out why they are doing what they are doing and who they really are. The point of the exercise is to decide what is your motivation for doing things and acting the way you do.

Comment by cameroncowan on 2014 Survey Results · 2015-01-05T04:56:07.551Z · LW · GW

I think being bi is simply being open-minded to all the potentials of relationships. But I agree the number of people to whom you might be engaged in sex or romance does not significantly increase. But I think the dual sexuality thing is dumb because sexuality is fluid. If I had a nickle for every time I went to bed with a "straight" man we could have a nice dinner.

Comment by cameroncowan on 2014 Survey Results · 2015-01-05T04:53:17.531Z · LW · GW

Thank you for this, very informative!

Comment by cameroncowan on Non-obvious skills with highly measurable progress? · 2015-01-04T18:39:56.763Z · LW · GW

I would setup metrics of success like length of conversation, quality (which is subjective), and if you traded information to further stay in touch. Observing people wouldn't have such metrics. It is a discipline that you simply must practice. The key would be not to get distracted. You may wish to time yourself and set a goal to do it a certain number of times a week. It also helps with situational awareness which helps with being safer in public and being ready for a crisis should one arise.

Comment by cameroncowan on Non-obvious skills with highly measurable progress? · 2015-01-04T01:37:40.071Z · LW · GW

I would say consuming mass amounts of media, learning an instrument, talking with other people, and spending time observing.

Comment by cameroncowan on Non-obvious skills with highly measurable progress? · 2015-01-04T01:36:52.265Z · LW · GW

Ability to consume media in that language. For instance, I can read more Le Monde than I can Die Zeitung.

Comment by cameroncowan on Open thread, Dec. 22 - Dec. 28, 2014 · 2014-12-23T00:04:59.753Z · LW · GW

What Nootropics do people take?

Comment by cameroncowan on Open thread, Dec. 15 - Dec. 21, 2014 · 2014-12-17T00:02:15.082Z · LW · GW

I'm a big fan of those. Basically stir fry and ayurvedic diets are fast, easy and very healthy.

Comment by cameroncowan on Open thread, Dec. 15 - Dec. 21, 2014 · 2014-12-17T00:00:12.351Z · LW · GW

I like Paleo with a mix of fast and slow moving carbs. I eat a primarily protein diet and then mix in small amounts of different kinds of carbs and a little non-cow dairy.

Comment by cameroncowan on Open thread, Dec. 15 - Dec. 21, 2014 · 2014-12-16T23:59:22.085Z · LW · GW

People who have done paleo can sometimes have issues processes carbs because you lose the stomach bacteria necessary to do so. It was poorly phrased. The transition back can be hard.

Comment by cameroncowan on Open thread, Dec. 15 - Dec. 21, 2014 · 2014-12-16T23:56:33.135Z · LW · GW

One the hardest things for people to do is change the way they believe the world is structured because psychologically there lies an aspect of death or non-existence. It is very hard for most people to do.

Comment by cameroncowan on Use Your Identity Carefully · 2014-12-16T23:51:16.991Z · LW · GW

I would just like to point out artists have been living like this for decades.

Comment by cameroncowan on Open thread, Dec. 15 - Dec. 21, 2014 · 2014-12-16T23:35:32.145Z · LW · GW

It's all about motivation. One of the biggest driver's to join a terrorist group is a sense of powerlessness over a situation or being gullible to wider teachings. I recommend reading, "Learning to Eat Soup With A Knife." Not only does it have great bits about counter-insurgency strategy it gives you a picture of the people involved.

Comment by cameroncowan on Open thread, Dec. 15 - Dec. 21, 2014 · 2014-12-16T23:29:47.113Z · LW · GW

My subscriptions: GQ Vogue Popular Science Time New York Times Vanity Fair Rolling Stone

Comment by cameroncowan on Open thread, Dec. 15 - Dec. 21, 2014 · 2014-12-16T23:25:37.573Z · LW · GW

I am not a morning person and never have been. What I will do is if I really have to get up I will set three alarms: 1 on my iPad that is next to me in bed. Then I will place my iPhone across the room and set two alarms on it. Not only do I get residual alarms but I also get the getting out of bed effect. My Dad has a similar system and it has served him well since his military days.

Comment by cameroncowan on [link] On the abundance of extraterrestrial life after the Kepler mission · 2014-12-11T23:17:42.882Z · LW · GW

Due to the the decapodian mating tendencies (which include standing on beaches attracting their mates after which they die) I don't think they would be driven to cause life on other planets. However, it might be a good idea to send the mutants from the sewers. They could reproduce and improve their evolution within the constraints of that new environment.

Comment by cameroncowan on Does utilitarianism "require" extreme self sacrifice? If not why do people commonly say it does? · 2014-12-10T07:56:23.249Z · LW · GW

I think you have to look at utilitarianism in a question of, "What does the best good for the greatest amount of people that is both effective and efficient?" That means that sacrifice may be a means to an end in order to achieve that greatest good for the greatest amount of people. The sacrifice is that actions that disproportionately disadvantage, objectify, or exploit people should not be taken. Those that benefit the greatest number should. Utilitarianism is all about greatest good. I don't think moral decisions have much place anywhere outside of what harms people. I don't think there is a moral element of utilitarianism but rather it has to do with the greatest good question. If we lived in a world where the ills were solved by that question I do not know that we would want to live in that world because it would mean the whole of humanity would exist on very little seeing as there are so many of us and much of the global economy is predicated on developed nations raping the undeveloped nations for resources, talent, and wealth. Utilitarianism by its very nature lowers all boats to a certain common stand and only raises boats when all boats can be raised which is not very often. It is a good survival strategy but may be not something to thrive on beyond survival plus some culture and a small amount of leisure.

Comment by cameroncowan on The Atheist's Tithe · 2014-12-10T07:42:53.744Z · LW · GW

I was thinking domestically within needs of the community that are not met by government programs. But that is important to consider.

Comment by cameroncowan on Open thread, Dec. 1 - Dec. 7, 2014 · 2014-12-07T09:30:26.676Z · LW · GW

I think parents want their children to be successful with their peers, particularly if they are. I helped raise my cousins and the youngest one was the last to really attract men and we felt really sorry for her because she was missing out and she was depressed because her sisters were always attached and she was not. Its a social thing, but it doesn't really hurt you as a person. I do think however, that your attractiveness level when you're young does have affect on your perception of your attractiveness into the rest of your life. Evolutionarily, when we only live to 40, it was important to keep the species going. Now, I think it is a matter of fitting in and finding one's place in society. Knowing, at a young time that you are attractive helps keep you going as life goes along. Whereas, if you don't feel attractive then you get that idea and it can be very hard to break.

Comment by cameroncowan on Open thread, Dec. 1 - Dec. 7, 2014 · 2014-12-07T09:25:29.896Z · LW · GW

I think life after 80 goes downhill not just because of health but because people you are familiar with and things start going away. Things change so quickly the world starts to become unfamiliar to you. Its like living on an alien planet. I think living to 1000 years would require one to leave the world, do some adjusting/re-education/reworking and then re-engaging with the world again. It would be like every 100 years going back to college and starting again. New friends, new music, new everything so that one could keep going.

Comment by cameroncowan on Open thread, Dec. 1 - Dec. 7, 2014 · 2014-12-07T09:22:45.698Z · LW · GW

I like this Curtis Henderson guy. My great-grandmother lived to be 96 and one of her complaints was that everyone she knew, loved, and cared about had died and she hardly had anyone left.

Comment by cameroncowan on Open thread, Dec. 1 - Dec. 7, 2014 · 2014-12-07T09:20:50.088Z · LW · GW

Learn storyteller, read a writing book. A good story has to have setting, a character, situations that are ironic, funny or heartfelt, and then a transformation. Sometimes it can be short and other times it can be longer and more like an epic. If you have all the elements, then learn how to keep an audience's attention with good language.

Comment by cameroncowan on Open thread, Dec. 1 - Dec. 7, 2014 · 2014-12-07T09:18:55.721Z · LW · GW

Perhaps we need to re-think what jobs and employment look like in the 21st century and build from there?

Comment by cameroncowan on Open thread, Dec. 1 - Dec. 7, 2014 · 2014-12-07T09:17:47.673Z · LW · GW

That was basically my education (I took 5 years of Latin, 2 of ancient greek, philosophy, literature, art) and the only reason I didn't end up homeless camping out in Lumifer's yard was because I learned how to do marketing and branding. I think having practical skills is a good idea. Trade and Technical schools are a great idea.

Comment by cameroncowan on Open thread, Dec. 1 - Dec. 7, 2014 · 2014-12-07T09:15:47.497Z · LW · GW

As a writer, I agree with you. I am horrible at math. In my life 2x3=5 most of the time. If I had to suffer and fail at Calculus when I can't multiply some days I would certainly start writing books about evil scientists abusing a village for its resources and then have the village revolt against its scientific masters with pitchforks. Throw in a great protagonist and a love interest and I have a bestseller with possible international movie rights.

Comment by cameroncowan on Open thread, Dec. 1 - Dec. 7, 2014 · 2014-12-07T09:09:07.500Z · LW · GW

I think trying to stop death is a rather pointless endeavour from the start but I agree the fact that most everyone has accepted it and we have some noble myths to paper it over certainly keep resources from being devoted to living forever. But then, why should we live forever?

Comment by cameroncowan on A hypothetical question for investors · 2014-12-07T09:03:24.997Z · LW · GW

I agree, given the daily stock fluctuations, the only way to make money would be to buy and hold over a long period of time and hope the 52 day moving average is in your favor. I would keep it all in cash.

Comment by cameroncowan on [LINK] Steven Hawking warns of the dangers of AI · 2014-12-07T09:02:03.160Z · LW · GW

I think getting to a friendly AI is very hard. I trust his assessment and I think we have to be very careful with the development of AI.

Comment by cameroncowan on Good things to have learned.... · 2014-12-07T09:00:23.859Z · LW · GW

I am a firm believer in liberal arts and classical education and I would like to see more of that in university and have other things farmed out to technical schools and trade schools. I think of 4 years the first two should be limited to philosophy, language, learning how to think, writing, research, journalism, and then the last 2 years specializing in a field of study within which to excel.