Group rationality diary, 1/9/13 2013-01-10T02:22:31.232Z
Group rationality diary, 12/25/12 2012-12-25T21:51:47.250Z
Group rationality diary, 12/10/12 2012-12-11T11:50:26.990Z
Group rationality diary, 11/28/12 2012-11-28T09:08:11.802Z
Group rationality diary, 11/13/12 2012-11-13T18:39:42.946Z
Group rationality diary, 10/29/12 2012-10-30T18:01:56.568Z
Group rationality diary, 10/15/12 2012-10-16T05:29:24.231Z
Group rationality diary, 10/1/12 2012-10-02T09:15:30.156Z
Group rationality diary, 9/17/12 2012-09-19T11:08:39.965Z
Group rationality diary, 9/3/12 2012-09-04T09:42:59.884Z
Group rationality diary, 8/20/12 2012-08-21T09:42:35.016Z
Group rationality diary, 8/6/12 2012-08-08T05:58:52.441Z
Group rationality diary, 7/23/12 2012-07-24T08:49:25.064Z
Group rationality diary, 7/9/12 2012-07-10T08:35:27.873Z
Group rationality diary, 6/25/12 2012-06-26T08:31:53.427Z
Group rationality diary, 6/11/12 2012-06-12T06:39:20.052Z
Group rationality diary, 6/4/12 2012-06-05T04:12:18.453Z
Group rationality diary, 5/28/12 2012-05-29T04:10:25.364Z
Group rationality diary, 5/21/12 2012-05-22T02:21:34.704Z
Group rationality diary, 5/14/12 2012-05-15T03:01:19.152Z
Gerald Jay Sussman talk on new ideas about modeling computation 2011-10-28T01:29:53.640Z


Comment by cata on Who should you expect to spend your life with? · 2021-01-23T21:10:56.343Z · LW · GW

If I had to guess, I bet that when children leave the home, partner time spend becomes more bimodal, with people who like their partners spending more time together, and people who were mostly co-parents with their partners spending less time together. This could net out to making it look like there's not that much change.

Comment by cata on Evaluating Opus · 2020-08-09T00:16:43.248Z · LW · GW
In our use case, however, we're not talking about sending one large recording up to the server. Instead, we'd be sending batches of samples off every, perhaps, 200ms. Many compression systems do better if you give them a lot to work with; how efficient is opus if we give it such short windows?
One way to test is to break the input file up into 200 ms files, encode each one with opus, and then measure the total size. The default opus file format includes what I measure as ~850 bytes of header, however, and since we control both the client and the server we don't have to send any header. So I count for my test file...

Based on my understanding of what you are building, this splitting is not a good model for how you would actually implement it. If you have a sender that is generating uncompressed audio, you can feed it into the compressor as you produce it and get a stream of compressed output frames that you can send and decode on the other end, without resetting the compressor in between.

Comment by cata on What can currently be done about the "flooding the zone" issue? · 2020-05-20T04:25:20.612Z · LW · GW

It seems to me that ordinary people are usually obsessed with scandals and drama, so I think Occam's Razor says that journalists are also obsessed with them and report on them because that's what they want to do. That is, I don't think all journalists are secretly wishing they could ignore Donald Trump but regrettably recognize that their incentives point in another direction -- I think they enjoy reporting on Donald Trump, so they do it.

Comment by cata on The Best Virtual Worlds for "Hanging Out" · 2020-04-27T23:31:31.799Z · LW · GW

Small correction -- AltspaceVR can be used without a VR headset using normal FPS controls, just like Hubs.

Comment by cata on Ethernet Is Worth It For Video Calls · 2020-04-13T06:27:27.041Z · LW · GW

Hey, I'm not sure what is wrong with your WiFi, but something fixable is probably wrong. I can run (on my roughly 70/10 connection) while pinging my router (an Archer C7 running OpenWRT which is roughly across the living room -- I have a home network with one AP at each end of the apartment) over WiFi and the ping time never exceeds 4ms. I live in an apartment with dozens of other visible networks.

You might want to check that it's using 802.11ac with 5 GHz on a not crowded channel, check that the signal strength looks good, make sure your client network drivers are up to date, check whether you have router hardware/software known for poor performance under load or bufferbloat problems, etc.

(edit: I notice you say that the router is three rooms away -- my guess is that the signal strength is just really bad and if you put an access point in between you could make it much better.)

Comment by cata on April Coronavirus Open Thread · 2020-04-01T08:30:37.688Z · LW · GW

Mea culpa, that's more of a condemnation than I thought.

Comment by cata on April Coronavirus Open Thread · 2020-04-01T02:53:54.459Z · LW · GW

It seems only skeptical of cloth masks as compared to surgical masks, which isn't really very interesting to me in the current circumstances, since most people don't have access to surgical masks.

Comment by cata on Coronavirus: California case growth · 2020-03-30T00:14:22.633Z · LW · GW
The data here doesn't give a clear idea of how the transitions from 1 to 2, or from 2 to 3 are proceeding. Nonetheless, it may offer some clues. So first, let's backtrack and think: let's say California going to level 2 or level 3 did in fact effectively stop coronavirus in its tracks. What should we see?

Ideally, we should see the number of people with coronavirus getting the test drop a lot. However, that doesn't necessarily mean that the total number of people getting the test drops, because many people who don't have the disease may also start getting tested, causing the total number of people getting tested to increase. So, more accurately, we should see one of these:

- A drop in the incremental number of tests each day.
- A drop in the confirmed positive rate on tests (but this metric is available at a further lag of 5 to 7 days).

I think it could take longer before either of these reflects the change in true cases. Here's an argument. Suppose:

- Current testing policy is declining to test many symptomatic people due to lack of capacity. I believe this is true (high-risk people, essential workers, and known contacts to existing cases are being prioritized.)
- As test availability improves, testing policy will change to test broader categories of symptomatic people, up to the testing capacity.
- The number of true cases is substantially higher than the number of other ailments that basically look the same. As a result, P(positive test | symptomatic) remains high and doesn't change much even if you halve the number of true cases. Probably variance in testing policy and test accuracy will drown out the change.

If this is right, as long as the number of true cases remains above the threshold of testing capacity, we get roughly the same number output on the metrics you mentioned, no matter whether it's 10 times above capacity or 1000 times above capacity. So if we're way above capacity right now, we won't see a decrease in true cases show up in those metrics for a while.

Comment by cata on March Coronavirus Open Thread · 2020-03-12T08:52:24.257Z · LW · GW

Here's a preprint published on March 10th testing how long coronavirus can last on a variety of surfaces.

Comment by cata on Pricing externalities is not necessarily economically efficient · 2019-11-10T06:27:20.495Z · LW · GW

What a wonderful page to come across -- I had misunderstood this for a decade.

Comment by cata on Heads I Win, Tails?—Never Heard of Her; Or, Selective Reporting and the Tragedy of the Green Rationalists · 2019-10-01T00:27:07.248Z · LW · GW

Wow, this post really got me thinking. Dealing with this kind of pervasive filtering seems super important and also difficult. Thanks for writing it.

Your proposal that you can clue other people into your filtering mechanism seems hard in practice. Any effort in this vein means that you are saying that you suspect the consensus is misleading, which means that you are saying that non-consensus beliefs are more likely to be true, and people can pick up on this. I tried to come up with ways to express "this is cherry-picked, but" without triggering that but I couldn't figure out ways that seemed plausible.

Approaches like Raemon's, where you say "I'm just never going to talk about controversial thing X" seem mentally hard to update on -- in a world where there are a million people who say "I'm never going to talk about X" and a thousand who are constantly presenting cherry-picked evidence about X, it's very difficult for my mind to interpret the filtering disclaimers as object-level evidence about X that can fight with the evidence provided by the cherry-pickers.

Comment by cata on No Really, Why Aren't Rationalists Winning? · 2018-11-05T04:51:45.430Z · LW · GW

The people I know IRL who identify as rationalists are doing great. Not a lot of people bet on prediction markets since the ones that exist are small and hard to use. Not a lot of people bet on stock markets since making money doing so is a boring full-time job.

I presume that the reason people don't post about how they are "winning" is because it's tactless to write a post about how great you are.

Comment by cata on OpenAI releases functional Dota 5v5 bot, aims to beat world champions by August · 2018-06-26T23:04:26.034Z · LW · GW

As a strong amateur DotA player, this seems absurdly impressive, albeit much less impressive than if they could beat humans in the full DotA ruleset. (Their restrictions seem to be avoiding much of the "long-term strategic planning" part of DotA, e.g. choosing heroes, item builds, and level of aggression in a way that makes sense against the enemy team.)

This seems way more surprising to me than beating humans at Go.

Gwern wrote a summary comment with some opinions here.

Comment by cata on Duncan Sabien: "In Defense of Punch Bug" · 2018-05-04T07:06:02.377Z · LW · GW

I thought just the same as you. It's extremely confusing to me that D would say "ugh" and then be unhappy when C changes their behavior. I didn't know this was a way people felt.

That said, I don't interpret "ugh" as a very strong comment. I wouldn't bother thinking to change my behavior because one person said "ugh."

Comment by cata on Are long-term investments a good way to help the future? · 2018-04-30T22:51:49.741Z · LW · GW

If you're willing to buy or own equity in some particular company, your demand is driving up the price for that company's equity. That company may own some of its own equity, or can issue new equity, and can then sell it at a higher price, or use it to pay for things (e.g. employee compensation, deals with third parties) directly. As a result, they can acquire capital to do whatever kind of presumably-profitable endeavor they can think of, presumably creating real economic value (or else it shouldn't be making a profit.) Your trade returns and dividends are a portion of that value. At least, you know, in theory.

Comment by cata on The Case Against Education · 2018-04-17T11:04:41.218Z · LW · GW

I agree wholeheartedly with Zvi's aesthetic opinion, which is that schools seem absurdly terrible, like a kind of dumb, terrible joke. I certainly wouldn't want to have to go to school again myself. I might rather select some different kind of minimum-security prison if I could.

However, I am not a child any more. When I was a child, I was different and I had a different personality. I went to a public school and a STEM magnet high school, and it was fine. It was a big waste of time, mind you. (I declined to go to college.) But it wasn't an incredibly unpleasant big waste of time, and unlike Zvi's experience it wasn't obviously worse than if my parents had just left me at home alone.

(I'm actually curious if Zvi would elaborate on his negative experience, which I didn't really understand yet. What's so unpleasant about sitting in class expending a tenth of your brainpower, if you are a smart kid? I sat in my class expending a tenth of my brainpower and I passed notes to people and programmed my calculator and read books and did math and thought about chess. That doesn't sound maximally productive, but it certainly doesn't sound torturous.)

There are many children like Zvi, who self-report hating school. Probably there are also many children who are ready to do something other than dick around in day care until they are N years old. I hope alternative arrangements flourish for those children and I am hopeful that my future children are among them. But there are definitely many, many children who are more or less OK with schools as they are, and all their stupid mediocrity. I'm wary of our crowd of outliers with our adult eyes looking with vicarious horror at something which is not actually that bad for the principals involved.

Comment by cata on An Untrollable Mathematician Illustrated · 2018-03-20T21:14:57.846Z · LW · GW

Thank you for making this! The format held my attention well, so I understood a lot whereas I might have zoned out and left if the same material had been presented more traditionally. I'm going to print it out and distribute it at work -- people like zines there.

Comment by cata on A LessWrong Crypto Autopsy · 2018-01-30T21:29:09.573Z · LW · GW

Thanks for this interesting infodump, I haven't looked hard at EOS yet (I am biased towards only bothering to learn about things which are actually "live in production" in a meaningful way, as a kind of bozo filter) but I will promote it in my attention.

I agree that Bitcoin could sort of tack on scalability with payment channels and tack on smart contracts with RSK. It just seems really unlikely that it's a better idea to do these things on top of a PoW blockchain layer that has tire fire governance. It's definitely true that some kind of worse-is-better network effect* could keep Bitcoin at the top in a way that's hard for me to understand -- I don't even have any explanation for why Bitcoin is at the top as of right now! At the end of the day, though, my original decision to buy Bitcoin and later Ethereum was based on my assessment of the technical usefulness of the work being done, and since that turned out so well, I'm going to keep riding that heuristic until I see it not work.

*Although it's interesting to speculate what the network would be. Ethereum has mostly caught up in terms of ease-of-obtaining-and-transferring; exchanges, wallets, node software, etc. Bitcoin never really hit the mainstream in terms of people transacting in it for everyday things, and due to congestion it probably won't now until payment channels are running and the kinks get worked out. One interesting thing that might be a "network effect" is the number of people with non-portable investments into Bitcoin's future, e.g. miners with Bitcoin ASICs. That's a lot of capital which is incentivized to make Bitcoin in particular succeed, and competitors don't have that.

Comment by cata on A LessWrong Crypto Autopsy · 2018-01-29T07:34:01.747Z · LW · GW

I'm a little curious, can you go into more detail? I had always assumed that the "too inconvenient" barrier was when you had to mine it yourself, or when you had to slowly wire money to some fishy site like Dwolla and from there to some fishy exchange like Mt. Gox, and that by 2014 it would largely seem easier and less risky.

Comment by cata on A LessWrong Crypto Autopsy · 2018-01-29T04:31:41.917Z · LW · GW

Maybe this is nitpicking, but per their post MIRI got a plurality of cryptocurrency from Vitalik but not a majority. If the website is accurate, then out of 66% of the funds raised ($1.656m) Vitalik contributed $763k, the other $893k of cryptocurrency being from other donors.

Comment by cata on A LessWrong Crypto Autopsy · 2018-01-29T00:24:37.934Z · LW · GW

Just for posterity and to try to make the success rate better next time, you should IMO seriously look at Ethereum now and decide what you make of it. Blockchain-based ledgers of stuff still seem to me like a good idea, the market has validated that opinion, and Ethereum is technically far in the front of the curve. (Some competitors, e.g. Tezos, Cardano have reasonable-sounding ideas but are way behind in terms of actual implementation and developer manpower being applied.) In the next two years we should see whether Ethereum's scaling plans work out or not. If they do, I can't understand any plausible future for Bitcoin.

My only problem is that it's confusing to me to understand how to compute how much an individual ether should be worth -- more confusing than Bitcoin, where it seemed to be competing directly with specific technologies like Western Union or Visa and I thought I could look at the fees and velocity of money through those as a comparison. So even if Ethereum becomes the technical infrastructure for a ton of random tokenized software I'm not sure how to estimate the future value of ether as a result. Perhaps I should be looking at potential tx/sec levels and estimating demand for gas in each case.

Disclaimer: Confusion notwithstanding, my money is where my mouth is.

Comment by cata on A LessWrong Crypto Autopsy · 2018-01-29T00:10:24.783Z · LW · GW
60 times more than total computational power of all other computers combined

What are you referring to here?

Comment by cata on A LessWrong Crypto Autopsy · 2018-01-28T09:16:18.002Z · LW · GW

My biggest takeaway is that there's a chance I can beat markets which as far as I could tell ought to have been pretty efficient, so I'm personally going to attempt to do that more often in the future until I get evidence that it's not working.

Comment by cata on List of civilisational inadequacy · 2017-12-05T01:05:54.036Z · LW · GW

Advertising is a terrible waste of resources. To the extent that advertising is serving a net positive goal (spreading information about the existence and quality of products) anyone could think up ways that are an order of magnitude cheaper and do an order of magnitude better job serving the goal.

Comment by cata on Moloch's Toolbox (2/2) · 2017-11-08T01:06:56.930Z · LW · GW

Regarding the multi-stage venture capital example: If only a small subset of VC companies recognize the value of a company due to a weird signalling equilibrium, and refuse to fund the valuable companies in successive rounds, that should make the market more exploitable, not less! It means they will have exclusive access to fund future rounds of the company if the company is successful. This argument seems to only fail if there is insufficient capital among the doubters to fund companies through to profitability (minding the variance involved). It seems like there is a ton of capital floating around, though, so I would be surprised if this was the case for anything but the most niche examples.

Am I wrong about this?

Comment by cata on Zeroing Out · 2017-11-06T05:53:18.205Z · LW · GW

I'm sure Zvi knows this, but this is also a great strategy for trying to play well at games that you're not familiar with, presuming you trust the game designer to have balanced things well.

Comment by cata on Moloch's Toolbox (1/2) · 2017-11-05T05:54:15.276Z · LW · GW

There are definitely a lot of people who are competing on the margin, for whom deviating from their individual incentives would cause them a lot of suffering and eliminate other ways they can do good in the world; I really can't fault them for not making those sacrifices.

However, I think there are many people who only have to make relatively small personal sacrifices to this end. For example, one link in the footnotes is about the failure of companies to reward interviewers for doing a good job. Many -- most -- interviewers are people with established careers and non-zero political capital. If so, you may very well have the slack to just spend extra time doing a good job anyway, and suck up the fact that your other work will slow down a little. If you think that doing a better job hiring people will have an important impact in the world, and you have the ability to sacrifice a relatively small slice of your career to do it, you should do it. It's not OK to do a bad job just because it's maximizing your self-interest.

Note that many of the most powerful decision-makers in our society are also the most privileged; they are wealthy, have high status, and have personal attributes that make their lives easier. (AFAIK this is least evident in the academic community -- but consider, for example, celebrities, rich capitalists, and many upper-middle class professionals.) My experience is that by and large, those people have the latitude to largely blow off bad incentives while incurring mild personal suffering at best -- e.g. they might risk a single job in a world where many similarly good jobs await them, or risk some money from a pile of money that is already not getting them much more marginal utility per dollar. When those people still choose to maximize their own self-interest? That's as close to evil as you can get.

(I get the sense that Eliezer thinks that this "free energy" gets eaten up very quickly by other actors who will outcompete the person who is making sacrifices. I just don't think that's the case, because the world has large variations in ability and situation. If you are an impressive manager with an impressive resume, and you sacrifice 50% of your potential impressiveness for the rest of your life to do idiosyncratic altruistic things, and nobody else does, that still leaves you more impressive than a lot of your competition. You can still go get powerful jobs where you can continue to do altruistic things all day.)

I'd be interested in some concrete examples of appealing to people's conscience getting us less-bad equilibria so I can better understand what you're getting at. Is the scientists who all resigned from the board of an Elsevier-owned journal and started their own an example?

In that space, people uploading things to Sci-Hub from their academic accounts is another example that is more along the lines of what I'm thinking of -- something you can do personally when you see an obviously better equilibrium that you can make a sacrifice to move towards. The kinds of stuff I mean:

  • Standing up as a representative of an oppressed group, instead of keeping your head down (e.g. think civil rights activists.)
  • As above, spending time in your professional work to maximize quality metrics that you know are important but under-rewarded. When you see a professional code of conduct or standards of quality that actually make
  • "Consumer activism", i.e. supporting companies and products that are taking into account important but otherwise under-rewarded externalities that you care about.

Also interested in your thoughts where we're in a suboptimal equilibrium that we're trying to get out of and there's 2+ optimal ones (in the sense that there's no other equilibrium which is a Pareto improvement), but each competes with the other.

That's really hard. I don't have any very good plan for those.

Comment by cata on Moloch's Toolbox (1/2) · 2017-11-05T03:52:48.990Z · LW · GW

I'm with Simplicio, since my definition of "evil" is "following one's individual incentives in situations where you know you are perpetuating a drastically suboptimal equilibrium." If you're a scientist, it's not moral to pursue a maximally impressive career at the cost of ignoring a bunch of work that you think really needs doing. (If you don't know it needs doing, then "stupid" applies.)

I think highlighting this as a moral imperative and appealing to people's conscience is a reasonable approach to attacking these problems, since it seems like more or less how we made it up to the equilibria we're at now.

Comment by cata on The Typical Sex Life Fallacy · 2017-10-08T01:09:54.440Z · LW · GW

I would much rather solve the problem of reading-in-public with clear content warnings than restricting how explicitly people talk about things.

Comment by cata on Writing That Provokes Comments · 2017-10-04T04:08:05.442Z · LW · GW

Writing this comment to provide social validation!

Like you, I have this norm in my head that I should only comment if I have something concrete to add, rather than to just encourage or discourage. But I wonder if this comes from a different context? I don't remember how I learned this norm, but many places on the Internet get enough posts and comments at a low enough average quality that I don't really value having another marginal post or comment unless it's raising the average quality. By contrast, the marginal post or comment on LW is interesting to me even if it's not raising the average quality, because the average quality is pretty high and I literally run out of posts and comments to read. So maybe the norm is not serving its original purpose.

Comment by cata on [deleted post] 2017-10-02T07:49:29.298Z

I think you do these traits a disservice by bundling them up with the label "human." I think it's very human to be unnecessarily imperceptive, ineffective, and stubborn. I prefer to leave being the most human human to someone else, preferably someone I never have to think about or interact with.

Comment by cata on Test post · 2017-09-25T06:51:18.075Z · LW · GW

They also show up on RSS for whatever reason :-(

Comment by cata on LW 2.0 Site Update: 09/22/17 · 2017-09-23T19:12:47.916Z · LW · GW

Wow, that's fantastic! Props.

Comment by cata on Nobody does the thing that they are supposedly doing · 2017-09-23T18:50:42.605Z · LW · GW

Big, if true.

EDIT: I got tricked into making this joke when the article had no text, just a headline, so now I look stupider than I really am.

Comment by cata on LW 2.0 Site Update: 09/22/17 · 2017-09-23T18:49:22.519Z · LW · GW

Feature request: An RSS feed with crossposted articles removed. (I would rather subscribe to people's blogs independently.)

Comment by cata on [deleted post] 2017-05-28T07:09:21.648Z

Perhaps your excessive cognition is ironically blinding you to the grandiose mediocrity of your overwrought replies, such as this one here, which sounds like something I would have written in third grade if I wasn't already too smart to have written it then, which, as a truly capable mind might have already conceived, I was.

Comment by cata on I Want To Live In A Baugruppe · 2017-03-19T04:33:50.928Z · LW · GW

I am really interested in this and would be likely to want to move into such a place if it existed anywhere in the Bay Area in the next few years.

Comment by cata on Low hanging productivity - improving your workspace · 2016-08-10T04:40:12.215Z · LW · GW

Pertinent to your questions, check out /r/battlestations.

Comment by cata on Open thread, Jan. 12 - Jan. 18, 2015 · 2015-01-15T19:37:58.901Z · LW · GW

I might try Groovy for the REPL stuff -- I was trying Clojure before, but I ran into problems getting it to get the dependencies and stuff all into the REPL (I work on a big project that uses Gradle as a build system, and Clojure doesn't usually use Gradle.)

carefully encapsulate state -- that's what the "private" and "public" keywords are for. I don't quite understand what could be the problem here (other than bad programmers not using these keywords; or the verbosity).

One pattern I have in mind here: if I have some algorithm I have to perform that has some intermediate state, I will break it down into some functions, pass the state around from function to function as necessary, and wind up composing five or six functions to get from the start to the end. Java programmers seem to often instead do something like make a class with the five or six functions as methods, and then set all the state as fields on the class, which the methods then initialize, mutate, and consume, and call the methods in the right order to get from the start to the end. That seems a lot harder for me to read because unless there is also great documentation I have to read very closely to understand the contract of each individual method.

(I'm also incidentally confused about when in Java people like to use a dependency injection tool like Guice and when people like to pass dependencies explicitly. I don't think I understand the motivation for the tool yet.)

Comment by cata on Open thread, Jan. 12 - Jan. 18, 2015 · 2015-01-15T04:50:33.365Z · LW · GW

I'm a programmer with a fair amount of reasonably diverse experience, e.g. C, C#, F#, Python, Racket, Clojure and I'm just now trying to learn how to write good Java. I think I understand most of the language, but I don't understand how to like it yet. Most Java programmers seem to basically not believe in many of the ways I have learned to write good software (e.g. be precise and concise, carefully encapsulate state, make small reusable modular parts which are usually pure functions, REPL-driven development, etc. etc.) or they apply them in ways that seem unfortunate to me. However, I feel foolish jumping to the popular conclusion that they are bad and wrong.

I would really like a book -- or heck, just a blog post -- which is like "Java for Functional Programmers" that bridges the gap for me and talks about how idiomatic Java differs from the style I normally consider good and readable and credibly steelmans the Java way. Most of my coworkers either don't like the Java style, only know the Java style, or just don't care very much about this kind of aesthetic stuff, so none of them have been very good at explaining to me how to think about it.

Does this book exist?

Comment by cata on Why you should consider buying Bitcoin right now (Jan 2015) if you have high risk tolerance · 2015-01-14T04:08:55.739Z · LW · GW

It's just a hedge for if you're risk-averse or if you're worried that market fluctuations will negatively influence your behavior about when to rebalance or invest. Here's a Vanguard study comparing the two historically if you're curious.

Comment by cata on Why you should consider buying Bitcoin right now (Jan 2015) if you have high risk tolerance · 2015-01-13T21:38:35.884Z · LW · GW

People have often compared Bitcoin to making a bet in which you have a 50% chance of losing everything, and a 50% chance of making multiples (far more than 2x) of what you started with.

There are times when the payout on that bet is much lower, when everyone is euphoric and has been convinced by the positive feedback loop that they will win. And there are times when the payout on that bet is much higher, when everyone else is extremely fearful and is convinced it will not pay off.

A good way to think about how much money to invest in these kind of bets if you think you have logarithmic utility with respect to money is the Kelly criterion.

Comment by cata on [deleted post] 2015-01-06T07:33:09.250Z

You gotta put more interesting information in if you want anyone to take this seriously as more than an advertisement. Things that you could discuss to make me more curious and likely to click your link:

  • Why doesn't this already exist?
  • If this works out well for the participants, why don't employees of companies organize like this instead of going through an insurance provider?
  • I often hear that health care costs are drastically inflated for non-insured customers. Is that true? How does this model deal with that? Can the groups negotiate with care providers to bring costs down?
Comment by cata on A Guide to Rational Investing · 2014-09-15T05:10:03.964Z · LW · GW

You mentioned at your talk that you were leveraged well past 100% of your net worth in equities. Can you elaborate on how you came to make that decision? As far as I can see, the only source of money at a reasonable rate that I can easily invest is margin, and that comes with both a 1.5-2% interest rate and the risk of margin calls, which makes me nervous. (In addition, I'm not so confident that I would be psychologically capable of making good decisions if such a really huge volatility happens to me.)

What's your thought process about that like?

Comment by cata on Look for the Next Tech Gold Rush? · 2014-07-20T01:29:08.416Z · LW · GW

Sure, you can look at it that way. From my perspective, I think the lower-hanging fruit is to make sure that when I have a good idea and I don't do it because of a trivial inconvenience, I notice and do it anyway.

Comment by cata on Look for the Next Tech Gold Rush? · 2014-07-19T23:09:16.217Z · LW · GW

I thought about it for a while and wound up concluding that the Bitcoin thing probably happened because there was a barrier to entry that kept out the majority of people. Back in 2010 or 2011, you had to send cash to places like Dwolla to actually get BTC. It sounds stupid, but I suspect that if you had been able to (e.g.) invest in a Bitcoin ETF back then, Bitcoin would have appreciated in price fast enough that it would have been hard to get in on the rush.*

So the lesson I'm taking away from that one is to beware of trivial inconveniences.

*Of course, this presumes that the "rush" is over, but at least it's a lot harder for me to be sure that buying Bitcoin is +EV at $500 than at $1.

Comment by cata on Consider giving an explanation for your deletion this time around. "Harry Yudkowsky and the Methods of Postrationality: Chapter One: Em Dashes Colons and Ellipses, Littérateurs Go Wild" · 2014-07-09T06:48:37.084Z · LW · GW

Because you underestimate how off-putting it is to people when things are deleted with no clear accountability or visibility. It's way worse than having an off-topic lousy post sitting on the page for a few days. It is like a hundred times worse.

You have to provide transparency (e.g. a "see deleted" section or a list of moderator actions) or rationale (e.g. Metafilter's deletion reasons and MetaTalk) or people get paranoid that there is weird, self-interested censorship and that the moderators aren't acting in the interests of the community. This is an Ancient Internet Feeling.

Comment by cata on Open Thread, May 19 - 25, 2014 · 2014-05-22T17:42:01.372Z · LW · GW

If you want a fundamentals-first perspective, I definitely suggest reading SICP. I think the Python course may have gone in a slightly different direction (I never looked at it) but I can't think of how you could get more fundamentals-first than the book.

Afterward, I suggest out of your list Concepts, Techniques, and Models of Computer Programming. That answers your question of "where do I go to learn about each of the different paradigms."

This is more background than you will strictly need to be a useful data scientist, but if you find it fun and satisfying to learn, then it will only be helpful.

Comment by cata on LessWrong as social catalyst · 2014-04-29T01:16:07.592Z · LW · GW

I was made aware of my current software job (it's a Quixey), which is infested with LW people, through LW. Two years ago I moved to the Bay Area to work at it and now most of my meatspace social circle is rationalist sort of people and I am dating one too. I am not super duper thrilled about this lack of intellectual diversity in my world, but it seems like a path of least resistance, and I am pretty happy for now.

Comment by cata on Optimal Exercise · 2014-03-11T08:52:15.605Z · LW · GW

I'm a skinny young programmer who has been following these weight training recommendations for two and a half months and I now have Actually Visible Muscles in my upper arm that never existed before, which I find entertaining.