Meetup : Seattle Rationality Reading Group 2016-02-24T21:12:38.395Z
Meetup : Seattle Rationality Reading Group: 109-114 2015-11-05T03:09:59.808Z
Meetup : Rationality Reading Group (76-80) 2015-08-23T07:34:20.838Z
Meetup : Rationality Reading Group (71-75) 2015-08-08T08:45:04.124Z
Meetup : Rationality Reading Group (65-70) 2015-07-27T05:30:23.767Z
Meetup : Rationality Reading Group (62-66) 2015-07-09T05:45:00.825Z
Meetup : Rationality Reading Group (57-61) 2015-07-03T06:03:18.833Z
Meetup : Rationality Reading Group (updated) 2015-06-25T01:48:50.367Z
Meetup : Seattle Sequences Group: Mysterious Answers 5 2015-03-30T20:09:50.335Z
Meetup : Seattle Sequences group: Mysterious Answers 4 2015-03-13T07:35:08.701Z
Meetup : Seattle Sequences group: Mysterious Answers 3 2015-02-27T07:54:52.095Z
Meetup : Seattle Sequences group: Mysterious Answers 2 2015-02-18T07:42:00.756Z
Meetup : Seattle Sequences group: Mysterious Answers 1 2015-02-12T09:15:14.895Z
[link] Etzioni: AI will empower us, not exterminate us 2014-12-11T08:51:46.364Z


Comment by CBHacking on I Want To Live In A Baugruppe · 2017-03-20T08:48:17.731Z · LW · GW

Moderately true of Seattle as well (two group houses, plus some people living as housemates or whatever but not explicitly a Rationalist Group House). I'm not sure if our community is big enough for something like this but I love this idea and it would be a point in favor of moving the bay area if there was one there (that I had a chance to move into) but not one here.

Comment by CBHacking on I Want To Live In A Baugruppe · 2017-03-20T08:40:45.875Z · LW · GW

Hell, it's not even just the bay area; Seattle has two explicitly-rationalist-group-houses and plenty of other people who live in more "normal" situations but with other rationalists (I found my current flatmate, when my old one moved out, through the community). Certainly the bay area rationalist community is large and this sort of living situation is far from universal, but I've certainly heard of several even though I've never actually visited any.

Comment by CBHacking on LessWrong 2.0 · 2017-02-07T09:30:47.116Z · LW · GW

Gah, thank you, edited. Markdown is my nemesis.

Agreed that the above won't work for all people, not even all people who say

I haven't and probably can't internalize it on a very deep, systematic level, no matter how many times I re-read the articles

Nonetheless, I find it a useful thing to consider, both because it's a lot easier (even if there isn't yet such a group in your area) than writing an entire LW-inspired rationality textbook, and because it's something that a person can arrange without needing to have already internalized everything (which might be a prerequisite for the "write the textbook" approach). It also provides a lot of benefits that go well beyond solving the specific problem of internalizing the material (I have also discovered new material I would not have found as early if at all, I have engaged in discussions related to the readings that caused me to update other beliefs, I have formed a new social circle of people with whom I can discuss topics with in a manner that none of my other circles support, etc.).

Comment by CBHacking on LessWrong 2.0 · 2017-01-15T14:08:29.766Z · LW · GW

For what it's worth, I got relatively little[1] out of reading the Sequences solo, in any form (and RAZ is worse than LW in this regard, because the comments were worth something even on really old and inactive threads, and surprisingly many threads were still active when I first joined the site in 2014).

What really did the job for me was the reading group started by another then-Seattleite[2]. We started as a small group (I forget how many people the first meetings had, but it was a while before we broke 10 and longer before we did it regularly) that simply worked through the core sequences - Map & Territory, then How to Actually Change Your Mind - in order (as determined by posts on the sequences themselves at first, and later by the order of Rationality: AI to Zombies chapters). Each week, we'd read the next 4-6 posts (generally adjusted for length) and then meet for roughly 90 minutes to talk about them in groups of 4-8 (as more people started coming, we began splitting up for the discussions). Then we'd (mostly) all go to dinner together, at which we'd talk about anything - the reading topics, other Rationality-esque things, or anything else a group of smart mostly-20-somethings might chat about - and next week we'd do it again.

If there's such a group near you, go to it! If not, try to get it started. Starting one of these groups is non-trivial. I was already considering the idea before I met the person who actually made it happen (and I met her through OKCupid, not LessWrong or the local rationality/EA community), but I wouldn't have done it anywhere near as well as she did. On the other hand, maybe you have the skills and connections (she did) and just need the encouragement. Or maybe you know somebody else who has what it takes, and need to go encourage them.

[1] Reading the Sequences by myself, the concepts were very "slippery"; I might have technically remembered them, but I didn't internalize them. If there was anything I disagreed with or that seemed unrealistic - and this wasn't so very uncommon - it made me discount the whole post to effectively nothing. Even when something seemed totally, brilliantly true, it also felt untested to me, because I hadn't talked about it with anybody. Going to the group fixed all of that. While it's not really what you're asking for, you may find it does the trick.

[2] She has since moved to (of course) the Bay Area. Nonetheless, the group continues (and is roughly now two years running, hitting nearly every Monday evening). We regularly break 20 attendees now, occasionally break 30, and the "get dinner together" follow-up has grown into a regularly-scheduled weekly event in its own right at one of the local rationalist houses.

Comment by CBHacking on Making Beliefs Pay Rent (in Anticipated Experiences) · 2016-01-18T23:31:39.823Z · LW · GW

I don't think "converse" is the word you're looking for here - possibly "complement" or "negation" in the sense that (A || ~A) is true for all A - but I get what you're saying. Converse might even be the right word for that; vocabulary is not my forte.

If you take the statement "most beliefs are false" as given, then "the negation of most beliefs is true" is trivially true but adds no new information. You're treating positive and negative beliefs as though they're the same, and that's absolutely not true. In the words of this post, a positive belief provides enough information to anticipate an experience. A negative belief does not (assuming there are more than two possible beliefs). If you define "anything except that one specific experience" as "an experience", then you can define a negative belief as a belief, but at that point I think you're actually falling into exactly the trap expressed here.

If you replace "belief" with "statement that is mutually incompatible with all other possible statements that provide the same amount of information about its category" (which is a possibly-too-narrow alternative; unpacking words is hard sometimes) then "true statements that are mutually incompatible with all other possible statements that provide the same amount of information about their category are vastly outnumbered by false statements that are mutually incompatible with all other possible statements that provide the same amount of information about their category" is something the I anticipate you would find true. You and Eliezer do not anticipate a different percentage of possible "statements that are mutually incompatible with all other possible statements that provide the same amount of information about their category" being true.

As for universal priors, the existence of many incompatible possible (positive) beliefs in one space (such that only one can be true) gives a strong prior that any given such belief is false. If I have only two possible beliefs and no other information about them, then it only takes one bit of evidence - enough to rule out half the options - to decide which belief is likely true. If I have 1024 possible beliefs and no other evidence, it takes 10 bits of evidence to decide which is true. If I conduct an experiment that finds that belief 216 +/- 16 is true, I've narrowed my range of options from 1024 to 33, a gain of just less than 5 bits of evidence. Ruling out one more option gives the last of that 5th bit. You might think that eliminating ~96.8% of the possible options sounds good, but it's only half of the necessary evidence. I'd need to perform another experiment that can eliminate just as large a percentage of the remaining values to determine the correct belief.

Comment by CBHacking on Words as Hidden Inferences · 2016-01-04T01:52:31.899Z · LW · GW

Replying loooong after the fact (as you did, for that matter) but I think that's exactly the problem that the post is talking about. In logical terms, one can define a category "human" such that it carries an implication "mortal", but if one does that, one can't add things to this category until determining that they conform to the implication.

The problem is, the vast majority of people don't think that way. They automatically recognize "natural" categories (including, sometimes, of unnatural things that appear similar), and they assign properties to the members of those categories, and then they assume things about objects purely on the bases of appearing to belong to that category.

Suppose you encountered a divine manifestation, or a android with a fully-redundant remote copy of its "brain", or a really excellent hologram, or some other entity that presented as human but was by no conventional definition of the word "mortal". You would expect that, if shot in the head with a high-caliber rifle, it would die; that's what happens to humans. You would even, after seeing it get shot, fall over, stop breathing, cease to have a visible pulse, and so forth, conclude that it is dead.. You probably wouldn't ask this seeming corpse "are you dead?", nor would you attempt to scan its head for brain activity (medically defining "dead" today is a little tricky, but "no brain activity at all" seems like a reasonable bar).

All of this is reasonable; you have no reason to expect immortal beings walking among us, or non-breathing headshot victims to be capable of speech, or anything else of that nature. These assumptions go so deep that it is hard to even say where they come from, other than "I've never heard of that outside of fiction" (which is an imperfect heurisitic; I learn of things I'd never heard about every day, and I even encountered some of the concepts in fiction before learning they really exist). Nobody acknowledges that it's a heuristic, though, and that can lead to making incorrect assumptions that should be consciously avoided when there's time to consider the situation.

@Caledonian2 said "If Socrates meets all the necessary criteria for identification as human, we do not need to observe his mortality to conclude that he is mortal.", but this statement is self-contradictory unless the implication "human" -> "mortal" is logically false. Otherwise, mortality itself is part of "the necessary criteria for identification as human".

Comment by CBHacking on Open thread, Nov. 02 - Nov. 08, 2015 · 2015-11-06T01:31:01.513Z · LW · GW

Agreed. "Torture" as a concept doesn't describe any particular experience, so you can't put a specific pain level to it. Waterboarding puts somebody in fear for their life and evokes very well-ingrained terror triggers in our brain, but doesn't really involve pain (to the best of my knowledge). Branding somebody with a glowing metal rod would cause a large amount of pain, but I don't know how much - it probably depends in the size, location, and so on anyhow - and something very like this on a small scale this can be done as a medical operation to sterilize a wound or similar. Tearing off somebody's finger- and toenails is said to be an effective torture, and I can believe it, but it can also happen fairly painlessly in the ordinary turn of events; I once lost a toenail and didn't even notice until something touched where it should have been (though I'd been exercising, which suppresses pain to a degree).

If you want to know how painful it is to, say, endure the rack, I can only say I hope nobody alive today knows. Same if you want to know the pain level where an average person loses the ability to effectively defy a questioner, or anything like that...

Comment by CBHacking on We really need a "cryonics sales pitch" article. · 2015-08-21T09:42:43.838Z · LW · GW

I haven't investigated selling it, but up to a certain multiple of my annual salary it's included in my benefits and there is no value in setting it lower than that value; I wouldn't get any extra money.

This is a fairly standard benefit from tech companies (and others that have good benefits packages in the US), apparently. It feels odd but it's been like this at the last few companies I worked for, differing only in the insurance provider whose policy is used and the actual limit before you'd need to pay extra.

Comment by CBHacking on We really need a "cryonics sales pitch" article. · 2015-08-08T09:38:46.715Z · LW · GW

Nitpick: The article talks about a rabbit kidney, not a mouse one

It also isn't entirely clear how cold the kidney got, or how long it was stored. It's evidence in favor of "at death" cryonics, but I'm not sure how strong of evidence it is. Also, it's possible to survive with substantially more kidney damage than you would even want to incur as brain damage.

Comment by CBHacking on We really need a "cryonics sales pitch" article. · 2015-08-08T09:26:29.254Z · LW · GW

Many employers provide life insurance. I've always thought that was kind of weird (but then, all of life insurance is weird; it's more properly "death insurance" anyhow) but it's a think. My current employer provides (at no cost to me) a life insurance policy sufficient to pay for cryonics. It would currently be given charitably - I have no dependents and my family is reasonably well off - but I've considered changing that.

Comment by CBHacking on Wear a Helmet While Driving a Car · 2015-08-07T04:44:14.571Z · LW · GW

Speaking as a SCUBA diver, the equipment is not designed to handle high airflow (such as you need when working hard on a bicycle), so even if the air tank itself wasn't a problem you'd need, at a minimum, a heavily-adjusted second-stage (the one with the mouthpiece) regulator. Possibly a different regulator set altogether. On the other hand, one of the design considerations of a second-stage reg is that the purge valve needs to resist water pressure, including the pressure of swimming; air would generally not have that problem (and you probably wouldn't have any need for a purge anyhow).

Even basic filter masks can cut down on particulate air pollution by a lot. I've spent some time in places with truly horrific air quality - the kind that makes LA seem clear and fresh-smelling - and a lot of people wear something over their face, even just a strip of cloth, when they go out (and sometimes also at night or even all the time). I don't know how practical they'd be at filtering out anything likely to cause headaches in traffic, and they're not terribly comfortable to wear, but it might be an option. Of course, in the US, the most common reason you see everyday people wearing something like that is if they're sick and don't wish to spread germs from their breath / sneezes, so people may be reluctant to shake your hand...

Comment by CBHacking on Crazy Ideas Thread · 2015-07-08T06:02:34.133Z · LW · GW

How many technologies are you aware of that don't have a harmful potential application? I mean, (electronic) computers were invented for military purposes and can enable all kinds of mischief on the Internet. Refrigeration makes military logistics a lot easier. Hell, internal combustion drives tanks and other military vehicles. GPS makes cruise missiles easier, but pre-GPS ICBMs just used inertial targeting; that's close enough for thermonuclear bombs.

In HPMOR, Harry figures out a large number of ways to make weapons out of the materials present in a low-tech classroom. I doubt anything short of reducing the world to subsistence farming (and no more than that) is sufficient to bring about a state in which

"... no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor"

Comment by CBHacking on Crazy Ideas Thread · 2015-07-08T05:49:23.507Z · LW · GW

The social stigma of something like that seems like you're basically throwing away any hope of rehabilitation, but it's hardly as if the US is much good at that anyhow.

Comment by CBHacking on Crazy Ideas Thread · 2015-07-08T05:47:45.567Z · LW · GW

Orion requires quite a few detonations, though; even with a massive craft (much of which is pusher plate and shock absorbers) to absorb the impact, you have to use fairly low-yield bombs and each only provides a relatively short period of thrust. You could possibly design something that takes higher yields (especially higher relative to the vehicle mass) that would survive reaching orbit on one detonation, but it would be subjected to extreme acceleration - the kind that would crush any satellite launched thus far - and I suspect there might be too much risk of tumbling given the non-uniformity of the atmosphere.

Comment by CBHacking on Stupid Questions July 2015 · 2015-07-07T07:03:15.484Z · LW · GW

That's worth checking (both in terms of what Apple claims, and in terms of what any relevant legal precedents claim; a hardware warranty certainly shouldn't be at risk from a software modification). On the other hand, it should be easy to "un-jailbreak" a device; just restore an un-jailbroken image onto it (for example, from a backup made before jailbreaking), and you can do so before sending the device in for warranty service. If the device is "bricked" to the point that you can't restore it, then Apple probably can't tell that it was jailbroken, either.

Comment by CBHacking on Open Thread, Jul. 6 - Jul. 12, 2015 · 2015-07-07T06:58:39.891Z · LW · GW

Creating a post in Discussion only requires "a few" points of karma; creating one in Main requires 20. I believe 20 is also required for creating a Meetup post; in most ways those appear to be treated as posts to Main (for example, up- and down-votes on them count for 10x the usual amount of poster karma).

Source: The LW FAQ, specifically

Comment by CBHacking on Ureshiku Naritai · 2015-07-06T08:45:15.769Z · LW · GW

5+ years later, I'm curious: have you attempted this? If so, how did the attempt go? If not, is there a clear reason?

Comment by CBHacking on Stupid Questions July 2015 · 2015-07-05T09:33:40.862Z · LW · GW

It's probably a lot more effective to draw the water from ~10m down; the infrastructure costs are far lower, you'll probably not need to insulate the water quite so much for coastal regions (to keep it from warming en route to the surface), you won't need to pump so hard (you won't have a vertical kilometer of buoyancy for your denser-than-shallower-water to fight).

For coastal regions, this might actually work, though those tend to be relatively moderate to start with (courtesy of the water). It would be a ton of infrastructure to get in installed in more than a small, clustered set of buildings / public property, though. For inland regions, you then need to pump cold (it's not permitted to warm up much) corrosive (seawater is a pain) water over a long distance in a hot part of the world. Upon its arrival, you still need to get it into the heat exchangers that you have installed wherever financially practical. Then you have to get rid of the resulting slightly-warmer corrosive seawater.

Comment by CBHacking on Stupid Questions July 2015 · 2015-07-05T08:43:24.515Z · LW · GW

Disclaimer: I don't use iThings except occasionally for work, and those ones are always jailbroken. My knowledge of what Apple does and does not permit the nominal owners of their devices to do is limited.

You may be able to save a backup of your iPad's current state to your computer, with the possibility of future restoration. This would back up both the apps and their data. You could then delete the apps (which deletes their data). If you wanted to play the apps again, you may be able to take a new backup and then restore the old one. Obvious downside here: if you ever do want to revert, you'll have to (at least temporarily) do without the progress you made since the initial backup

Alternatively, delete only those games which sync their progress to an external service, after you perform the aforementioned synchronization. I don't know which games those are, but they exist. Cross-platform ones, and those from major dev houses, are more likely to offer this feature.

... or you could jailbreak. There was a new one just released. You don't have to do much with it except back up your own data, if you want. That's one of the major reasons I rooted my phone.

Comment by CBHacking on Open Thread, Jun. 29 - Jul. 5, 2015 · 2015-07-04T08:55:35.189Z · LW · GW

Agreed. If you're not willing to say "Nope, you crossed the line. See you next time, I'll decide when that is, goodbye" (or similar) and leave (cut them off to whatever degree is needed to stop the harmful behavior), then you need to not give them an opportunity to start again. If you are willing to do so, though, or some other approach to ensuring your boundaries are respected, go ahead.

For the record, while I have a pretty good relationship with both my parents, I do not buy the line that a person always has an obligation to their parents. Sure, there usually is one, but your parent(s) put a finite amount of utility into your life, and negative utility is a thing. Parents trying to run the lives of their adult offspring drives me up a wall. Unless there's something unusual about your capacity for self-reliance, at 25 you should not be living under anybody's thumb to the degree described even without the negatives such as undesired/inappropriate criticism.

Comment by CBHacking on Open Thread, Jun. 29 - Jul. 5, 2015 · 2015-07-04T08:34:16.629Z · LW · GW

For what it's worth, I see a surprisingly large number of (attractive and female) dancers on OKC. It seems like one of those things that, if you want to meet desirable women who are looking to meet men, is an obvious approach to take. Meet them at the dance studio, or at events with dancing, or online from a position where you can speak to their interest. Go on a date to a place that has dancing, or put on music and ask her to dance at home (there's on OKC question about this; nearly all women - not just the ones who otherwise say they like dancing - indicate they'd respond favorably).

Massage is probably less directly useful for signaling attractiveness (although you could try; "I love giving massages" is probably generally a positive thing to say), but is certainly useful if you reach a point where it's something you can offer your date... Anecdotally, my girlfriend and I give each other massages all the time, and it's definitely one of the things we find attractive about each other. One of our most fun dates (after we'd been seeing each other a few months) was taking a massage class for couples.

Comment by CBHacking on Open Thread, Jun. 29 - Jul. 5, 2015 · 2015-07-04T08:13:13.905Z · LW · GW

TL;DR: Agreed on the "check the match questions, especially the 'unacceptable' ones" comment! The enemy rating can be a total lie.

Oh jeez, OKC match questions. I'm sometimes amazed that the site works as well as it does when the match questions (and their answers) are so terrible. Some very common problems I have with them:

1) Questions where the only possible answer is nuanced - "Would you date a person who ?" for some X that has a wide range of possible meanings - and the only possible answers are yes and no. No "maybe", much less an "it depends", never mind the chance to choose an answer specifying the thing it actually depends on. I just skip these, usually.

2) Questions/answers which presuppose an attitude on some subject. "If you discovered a first date was carrying condoms, would you tease them about it?" and all four possible answers indicate that this is a bad, or at best neutral, thing to do. My answer to this one is actually true - I probably wouldn't say anything - but I'd approve and there's no way (that is relevant to the algorithm; the "explain your answer" box is ignored for purposes of percentages) to indicate this approval.

3) Questions where, for example, there's two acceptable answers, one unacceptable one, and one great one. Problem is, you can only specify that an answer is "acceptable" or not, and then rank how important it is that the other person's answer is one of them. Do I mark all three that I'm OK with and say this is important, to strongly exclude the fourth, or rank it less important because two of them I'm not actually strongly in favor of are nonetheless acceptable? Or mark only the one great answer as acceptable, and then say it's important because if you agree with me that's great and should bump up our match percentages... or that it's less important, because I'm excluding some options that would actually be OK?

4) Questions (or occasionally answers) where I want to give one answer based on what the question appears to be asking (if interpreted a little generously), but a more direct/literal interpretation requires a different (often opposite) answer. Do I accept the answer that I'd probably end up giving if I was asked this in person and gave the asker a chance to clarify, or do I actually answer the question as asked even though the way it's asked is stupid and/or misleading? Am I actually being asked my view on the topic, or am I being asked whether it's more important that a partner have good reading comprehension and basic decency/familiarity with well-known historical events and the ability to draw obvious parallels? Or maybe whether they answer things literally as asked, or are good at identifying the asker's intent?

Not to derail this thread into a discussion of OKC's amazingly-effective-despite-its-frequent-terribleness match question system, just pointing out that, despite my own suggestion of checking the enemy percentage, the enemy percentage can be a lot higher than is warranted. I have seen numerous cases where our answers were mutually unacceptable but, as explained in the "explain your answer" box, we actually have the same view on the topic. Sigh...

Comment by CBHacking on Open Thread, Jun. 29 - Jul. 5, 2015 · 2015-06-30T09:08:07.200Z · LW · GW

Sure, I can explain. Bear in mind that this is all based on my personal experiences (male, atheist, mid-to-late 20s, college degree, lives in Seattle, WA, only interested in dating women) and that although I have developed it over around four years I'm not claiming I've found the perfect strategy so far.

First of all, filter match ratios pretty hard. Anybody below a 90% is probably not worth checking unless they checked you first, below an 80% not even then. Above that it starts being more a matter of enemy ratio; above 10% is probably not worth it, above 15% quite unlikely. 95%+ match and 5%- enemy is always worth checking out.

Next, take a quick look for dealbreakers (you do have a list of dealbreakers, right? Not things like "overweight" unless you are super opposed to that, but things like being a smoker, or "I don't really read stuff, lol", or being significantly religious). Many people also list their dealbreakers; make sure you aren't on them (sometimes it's little stuff, like having a beard or being too short; seems silly but just move on and don't waste the time). Distance or location is common one; not all 25 mile distances (or whatever threshold you set) are created equal. Relationship type (poly/open or monogamous) can often be a dealbreaker too.

OK, she's a good match and there's no dealbreakers. Take a look at her profile essays. There should be a few things that jump out at you; a show you both like, a book you want to read but haven't yet, an interesting career path, a shared love of some sport or activity, etc. If you can't find anything like that and want to dig deeper, you can check her photos for interesting scenes or captions - some people are just bad at writing profile essays, but reveal themselves to be interesting in other ways - but in general if you don't have at least 3 things that really stand out as interesting it's not worth the time.

Now you've got a good basis for a message, you just need the form of it. I tend to start with a simple "Hello" or "Hi there!", or possibly something a little silly like "Greetings, fellow -lover!". Don't talk about yourself much, except to say things like "I just got back from , and it was awesome!" or "I see you're also a fan of , have you read ?" Aim for 2-3 paragraphs; it's totally fine to save some of your "hey, I like ..." for a subsequent message and is probably a better idea than letting the first one go on too long.

A few DOs and DON'Ts: Don't ask to meet right away, unless she expresses an interest in that herself. Save it for at least the second message, after she shows an interest in you. Do put your (first) name at the bottom; some women will be hesitant to share their name, but there's nothing wrong with sharing yours. Don't talk about tricky subjects in the first message (it's cool to indicate a general alignment with their views - say, cheer for legalized gay marriage, or whatever - but don't go into detail on your thoughts). Do comment on / ask about specific things from her profile and make it clear you actually read it. Don't compliment her appearance (possibly unless you can pull it off suave as fuck); that's better saved for an in-person date. Don't include your phone number right away, again unless she has already indicated a preference for meeting up right away (most women will want to exchange at least a couple messages first).

You can "Like" the profile or not, as you wish; I don't think it makes a huge difference either way if she doesn't "Like" you first. If she does (or if you tag her and she tags you back) then that's definitely a good sign, and you should put the effort into your message. Don't make her wait too long!

If she writes back, the optimal response will depend a lot on what she says and this comment is already super-long so I won't try to go into that. However, one thing I've found: do not keep the conversation going forever in messaging/email (though moving off the site messaging and switching to email after a round trip or two is reasonable and may feel a little more personal). If she hasn't at least dropped a hint about meeting by her third message, suggest meeting in person, possibly over some food you both like or similar (keep it casual and low-key). If she doesn't show signs of interest in the next reply, I usually don't pursue it much more.

Comment by CBHacking on Open Thread, Jun. 29 - Jul. 5, 2015 · 2015-06-30T07:46:23.020Z · LW · GW

Interpreting the statement generously, ChristianKI probably meant "The raw gender ratio for the site as a whole doesn't matter, only the success rate for people in your demographic (which is partially determined by the gender ratio in the relevant demographic but is not exclusively driven by it)."

For the record, a few ways that raw gender ratio may matter less than you think:

1) It doesn't take orientation into consideration; that's probably even (you "lose" the same percentage of women to lesbianism as you can "subtract" gay men), but then in theory the gender ratio should be balanced overall too.

2) It doesn't take polyamory into consideration. The OP didn't sound like he was looking for a poly relationship, but a lot of guys are fine with it and, in my experience, poly women tend to have a lot of partners (anecdotally, I know at least as many poly women as poly men, but that probably varies by demographic and may be incorrect more generally anyhow). In any case, poly allows one person to "count" as several for the purposes of such ratios.

3) It doesn't take into consideration relative quality. The women the OP is interested in meeting are unlikely to be interested in all those barely-literate men who spam every person marked "female" on the site. They are only competition (demand) in the sense that they clog mailboxes and make it hard to punch a signal through all the noise. There doesn't seem to be a significant corresponding category of women wasting mens' time and mailbox capacity, so the ratio is way more even than the raw numbers suggest.

Comment by CBHacking on Open Thread, Jun. 29 - Jul. 5, 2015 · 2015-06-29T09:11:44.851Z · LW · GW

Anecdotally, my success in the dating world went up dramatically when I started using OKCupid; to put it simply, it got me past the "is she even interested in dating, much less dating me?" hangup that I tended to have, and led to a lower fear of rejection. Basically, I no longer worried about whether the attention was undesirable, something that I had a really hard time telling from in-person interaction back then (I've gotten better at it; this was years ago).

Also, while it's certainly true that there are tons of guys on such sites and women tend to get a ton of attention (mostly undesirable, as in looking for dating but gets mostly messages along the lines of "your hot lets fuck"), it's really not that hard to stand out from the herd. It might take a while to figure out what works and what doesn't, but online dating is a much easier (in my experience) place to try things out (with regard to getting a date) than face-to-face. Also, online dating is a really good way for less-social types of people to meet other less-social types of people.

Now, with that said, even once you start getting first dates you should expect a lot of them to not go anywhere. That's the way the world works. Learn from them, both what your partners didn't like and what you didn't like. Don't assume it's always something you can change about yourself except by refining what you look for in a partner. Again, this might take a while to find somebody who is into you, and you're into them, and neither of you scares away or turns off the other... but it'll happen, and being in a relationship is a huge emotional, self-esteem, and confidence boost... even if the relationship doesn't last.

Comment by CBHacking on New LW Meetups: Maine, San Antonio · 2015-06-27T08:43:57.000Z · LW · GW

Edited the wiki entry for Seattle to include a reference to the "Rationality, AI through Zombies" reading/discussion group, which is starting up (again). Next meetup is here:

Comment by CBHacking on Stupid Questions May 2015 · 2015-05-26T07:44:26.801Z · LW · GW

That exposes the maximum surface area for combustion, I guess (the surface area actually increases as the propellant is burned, interestingly) so blowing the top would work, yeah.

Comment by CBHacking on Stupid Questions May 2015 · 2015-05-22T04:23:18.978Z · LW · GW

Whoops, you're right. I thought the gimbaling was just on the SSMEs (attached to the orbiter) but in retrospect it's obvious that the SRBs had to have some control of their flight path. I'm now actually rather curious about the range safety stuff for the SRBs - one of the dangers of an SRB is that there's basically no way to shut it down, and indeed they kept going for some time after Challenger blew up - but the gimbaling is indeed an obvious sign that I should have checked my memory/assumptions. Thanks.

Comment by CBHacking on Stupid Questions May 2015 · 2015-05-05T08:57:09.413Z · LW · GW

Anecdotal, but I know of one case where the beggar got angry about being given food (I think it was something like a grocery store deli sandwich, still wrapped and unopened) and ranted at my friend about thinking they know better than the recipient about what they need and how the giver must not trust beggars with money and so on. It's kind of funny in retrospect, but at the time it was disturbing and confrontational and (of course) extremely ungrateful, so there were definitely no warm fuzzies derived therefrom (more like a highly unpleasant fight-or-flight moment plus public embarrassment) and it really did feel like a waste of money. If your goal is warm fuzzies, or even just to convince yourself you're doing some good, triggering an experience like that is utterly counterproductive. I can't imagine it's a common thing, but so far as I know, my friend has never again tried giving food directly (as opposed to donating to a food drive).

Comment by CBHacking on Stupid Questions May 2015 · 2015-05-05T08:49:17.820Z · LW · GW

Best guess, it's simply because Typical Mind is overwhelmingly more common (though this could be an example of TMF at work right here!). Humans are social animals, who value the agreement of others with their own views. It's easy and comfortable to assume that other people will think similarly to you. There's an even deeper level than that, though: you are the only person whose mind you are truly familiar with, and so there's a huge availability bias in favor of your own thought processes on any subject. It requires more thought to consider what other people - either in particular, or generally - would think of a situation than it does to form your own thoughts; you do the latter automatically just be considering the situation at all. Many people will never put forth the extra effort without being prodded to do so.

Even those who claim to be their own special snowflake actually commonly do value commonality with other people. Hipsters (not saying you are one, it's just a convenient category of identifiable people who, ironically, share a useful set of criteria) may proudly claim to think differently from the rest of society, but even then they are agreeing with each other about what to think differently about, and are frequently thinking different in the same way. If you drink PBR but claim to do so "ironically", you're a hipster; you belong to a society that may have some differences from the dominant one, but is internally relatively consistent. If you only drink micro-brewed craft beers of at least 7% ABV and made with organically-grown hops then you're a couple different kinds of beer snob, but in a way that people can relate to; maybe they also prefer stronger beers, or stick to organic produce, or whatever, and they know other people who have those other preferences too so they can visualize you as the intersection of those groups, and you can be a member (a "special" member, but one nonetheless) of groups such as "craft beer snobs". If you drink Bud Light and Coors Light but only when mixed with pear juice and Tabasco sauce, you're actually a special snowflake... otherwise known as being just weird. People won't really be able to relate to your tastes, and (except when trying to signal your different-ness) you probably won't talk about your atypical taste when you're at a bar and somebody strikes up a conversation.

I'll admit I've had AMF moments myself, though. Topics I avoid talking about because I don't expect anybody else to be interested, or situations where I think literally everybody must think some way except me because I don't see any other counterexamples. It's rare, though; at 28 I probably experience as much TMF in a week as I can recall AMF experiences in my life.

Comment by CBHacking on Stupid Questions May 2015 · 2015-05-05T07:52:18.750Z · LW · GW

You're also talking about fundamentally different kinds of rocket boosters. The Space Shuttle used solid fuel boosters, which are basically nothing except a tube packed full of energetically burning material, an igniter to light said material, and a nozzle for the generated gases to come out. They couldn't throttle, couldn't gimbal, couldn't shut off or restart, didn't use cryogenic fuel so didn't need insulation, didn't rely on pressurized fuel so they didn't need turbopumps... In fact, as far as I know they basically didn't have any moving parts at all!

You ever flown a model rocket, like an Estes? That little tube of solid grey gritty stuff that you use to launch the rocket is basically a miniature version of the solid fuel boosters on the Space Shuttle. The shuttle boosters were obviously bigger, and were a lot tougher (which made them unacceptably heavy for something like the Falcon 9's first stage) so they could survive the water landing, but fundamentally they were basically just cylindrical metal tubes with a nozzle at the bottom.

Despite that, reconditioning them for re-use was still so expensive that it's unclear if the cost was worth it. Now, of course, they cost a lot less to build than a Falcon 9 first stage, but every one of the Falcon 9 first stage's nine Merlin 1D engines is many times as complicated as the entire solid booster used on the Space Shuttle. Even the first stage tank is much more complicated, since it needs to take cryogenic fuels and massive internal pressurization.

Comment by CBHacking on Stupid Questions May 2015 · 2015-05-05T07:38:41.146Z · LW · GW

I think part of the problem is a fundamental misunderstanding of what parachuting into the ocean does to a rocket motor. The motors are the expensive part of the first stage; I don't know exact numbers, but they are the complicated, intricate, extremely-high-precision parts that must be exactly right or everything goes boom. The tank, by comparison, is an aluminum can.

The last landing attempt failed because a rocket motor's throttle valve had a bit more static friction than it should, and stuck open a moment too long. SpaceX's third launch attempt - the last failed launch they've had, many years ago with the Falcon 1 - was because the motor didn't shut off instantly before stage separation, like it should have. As far as I know, people still don't know why Orbital ATK (FKA Orbital Science)'s last launch attempt failed, except that it was obviously an engine failure. We talk about rocket science, but honestly the theoretical aspects of rocketry aren't that complicated. Rocket engineering, though, that's a bloody nightmare. You get everything as close to perfect as you can, and sometimes it still fails catastrophically and blows away more value than most of the people reading this thread will earn in their lifetimes, leaving virtually nothing to tell the tale of what happened.

What does all that have to do with parachute recovery of booster stages? Well, once you've dunked those motors in saltwater, they're a write-off. They can't be trusted to ever again operate perfectly without fairly literally rebuilding them, which defeats most of the purpose of recovering the booster.

There's nothing you could coat a rocket motor with that would both survive that motor operating and make it economical to re-use the motor after plunging into the ocean. The closest thing I can think of would be some kind of protective bubble that expands to protect the motors from the ocean once their job is done. It would need to be watertight, impact-resistant (the rocket still hits the water pretty hard, even with parachutes), able to deploy around the motors reliably, avoid causing a bending moment that collapses the tank (which has minimal pressure, because its fuel is depleted and any excess pressurizing agent you carry is wasted weight to orbit), and able to operate after being exposed to the environment in close proximity to a medium-lift rocket's primary launch motors. Maybe it's possible, but I can't think of how to do reliably enough to be worth the added cost on launch.

Comment by CBHacking on Gasoline Gal looks under the hood (post 1 of 3) · 2015-05-05T06:58:10.898Z · LW · GW

The hypothetical scenario stipulates that the illusion is perfect so long as you're driving the car. That may be an unrealistically difficult goal to achieve, but if you take its success as given, it means that the illusion really is as good as the true thing... so long as the illusion is never pierced. The problem, of course, is that with a car the illusion would be all too easy to pierce; just pop the hood. Even if the actual goal is not to drive an internal combustion car but merely to *believe" you drive such a car, one glance beneath the hood (or having once been told the truth) still means a loss of value.

Comment by CBHacking on Gasoline Gal looks under the hood (post 1 of 3) · 2015-05-05T06:50:55.433Z · LW · GW

For the record: I'm not sold on "completely reasonable to prefer just that" at all. It may be simply because I experience almost no jealousy - the only "rules" in my relationship are about the things that could actually hurt me (whether I knew what she was up to or not) - but I really don't see the cheating itself as a problem. Now, it does indicate that your partner is less trustworthy, less true to their promises, than you might have expected. That could be a problem. But in the hypothetical situation that my partner only breaks promises in ways that A) I won't know, and B) won't hurt me, I really don't care. Who am I, to control my partner's life that way? Of course, I'm highly unlikely to ever enter into an arrangement as described in the first place, so I'm not the hypothetical alternative Gal being discussed in any case.

However, there's another difference: with the car, Gal can - at need, or simply for fun - pop the hood and see the thing that pierces the illusion. In order for the illusion to persist, she needs to literally never look at the gasoline engine that she "thinks" powers the car. Whereas with the infidelity, so long as one doesn't stalk one's partner or compel them to tell the truth about their faithfulness, one would never be the wiser. The illusion of faithfulness really is as good as the real thing, and that's just not true of the car unless you're some weird sort of internal combustion fanatic who would never actually try to look upon their own engine.

Comment by CBHacking on Meetup : MIRI paper reading group · 2015-04-25T07:35:11.062Z · LW · GW

Either that or it was posted almost a year in advance...

Comment by CBHacking on Open Thread, Apr. 20 - Apr. 26, 2015 · 2015-04-21T08:20:25.268Z · LW · GW

Not so much in response to your specific question, but when trying to figure out what I can afford, I actually take a pretty simple approach: my liquid assets (mostly in the bank) plus things I could easily liquidate (stocks, etc.) minus a "rainy day fund" (this has varied in size over the years, but tends to sit at between 2 and 10 thousand USD, based on how hard I think it would be to get a job or find housing in the event that I lost one or both). Things like 401K and HSA are omitted; they're already earmarked for specific things and mean I don't have to worry about keeping other funds back for those purposes. Assets that are technically resalable but either not worth the effort or of high utility to my daily life (my computer, my car, etc.) are also omitted, though in a pinch I would of course sell them too.

The result is the money I can afford to spend. I can use it on video games, or vacations, or gifts for people, or a new car (at which point I would sell the old one), or fighting malaria. I can trickle it away on living expenses if I decide to quit my job and pursue hobbies or whatever (I would start looking for a new one once I got within "expected job hunt time * cash outflow rate" distance of the bottom of this wealth, though I could dip into the rainy day fund if needed).

I can also invest it into riskier things than a savings account, like stocks... or into any other kind of betting.

Comment by CBHacking on Open Thread, Apr. 13 - Apr. 19, 2015 · 2015-04-14T08:26:44.465Z · LW · GW

For anybody reading this: save for one very lucky encounter at 18, I was too. It happens. Three years later, I've spent nearly all that time in sexual relationships, sometimes more than one at once. The turn-around can come really quickly. I'm not sure I have enough information to pinpoint the changes I need to make, though.

Comment by CBHacking on Boxing an AI? · 2015-03-30T10:41:02.186Z · LW · GW

If you're in a box, then the computational resources available are finite. They might change over time, as those outside the box add or upgrade hardware, but the AI can't just say "I need some highly parallel computing hardware to solve this problem with" and re-invent the GPU, or rather, if it did that, it would be a GPU emulated in software and hence extremely slow. The entire simulation would, in effect, slow down due to the massively increased computational cost of simulating this world.

Now, if you cut the AI off from any type of real-time clock, maybe it doesn't notice that it's running slower - in the same way that people generally wouldn't notice if time dilation due to the Earth's movement were to double, because all of our frames of reference would slow together - but I suspect that the AI would manage to find something useful for letting it know the box is there. Remember that you have to get this right the first time; if the AI finds itself in a box, you have to assume it will find its way out.

Comment by CBHacking on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 117 · 2015-03-09T08:31:50.915Z · LW · GW

Voldemort has an absolute truth oracle, or at least a sufficiently good approximation thereof, available too him. If Harry needs his wand to teach V one of his secrets, make him say so in Parseltongue. If H does demand his wand, make him state whether he intends to use it for anything but demonstrating a secret.

The wonderful thing here is that this gives all kinds of opportunities for V to screw up without realizing he's screwing up. PT is a secret for which H needs his wand. H is, in a sense, demonstrating PT. Unless V was very careful about making H state his exact and full intentions, we could have had a plausible reason for H to have his wand. There's really no plausible reason for V to just let him have it, though; disarming him (there's even a spell which does exactly that, and one would hope his followers know it...) costs nothing but a small amount of time, and gains V potential defense against "a power he knows not"... the existence of such things being the whole reason V didn't just have H killed immediately!

Comment by CBHacking on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 113 · 2015-03-01T09:57:41.247Z · LW · GW

Similarly, it would be seriously pushing it to rely on any scientific advances of the last (real-world) decade or so, unless there's a reason Harry would be able to at least semi-plausibly pre-discover them himself. Not that I can think of any of those which would help anyhow, but it's something to keep in mind.

Future tech - even things we think we could perhaps do - is probably right out. Harry could conceivably transfigure something (his epidermis, for example; has anybody mentioned that yet?) into a material that we know exists or could exist, and can describe in atomic or sub-atomic detail, yet can't synthesize; an arbitrary isotope of an arbitrary element should probably be possible, for example. He can't use transfiguration to produce something with negative mass (, though... at least, I would assume not, even if the science he knows suggests that such a thing is theoretically possible.

Comment by CBHacking on Weekly LW Meetups · 2015-02-14T11:43:30.690Z · LW · GW

Huh, my comment shows as being 4 days older than the post itself. The actual upcoming session is Are comments on this post preserved week to week?

Comment by CBHacking on Open thread, Feb. 9 - Feb. 15, 2015 · 2015-02-14T11:37:32.928Z · LW · GW

Good to know. I hadn't actually bothered to check; I just used a unique password and email address as a matter of course - but I'm glad anyhow. Of course, that doesn't guarantee they're storing the password verifier, but I certainly could go read the source myself and find out.

Of course, if I was actually concerned about the security of my account here, I wouldn't use the site at all because it's only available unencrypted. Given how easy and cheap (even free) it is to enable TLS these days, I'm honestly surprised this site not only defaults to plaintext but doesn't support encryption at all. Intercepting network traffic is easy (promiscuous mode on open WiFi, run your own hotspot with an expected SSID, ARP spoofing, etc.)

Comment by CBHacking on The Truth About Mathematical Ability · 2015-02-14T11:34:53.875Z · LW · GW

It's worth noting that the SAT2 (subject tests) are much more rarely taken; while all students who anticipate tertiary schooling in the US take the SAT, only a relative handful take the SAT2 (or did when I was looking at it). My 740 in math (SAT1) was substantially higher percentile than my 790 in the SAT2 math subject test

I also thought that the College Board's claim that the SAT 1 is not an IQ test was really odd. The test is (or was, in 2004/2005) full of the following categories of problem: 1) Things a reasonably competent high school math student could solve, if they took the time, but the answers were widely spaced (say, by order of magnitude) and you could figure out the only possible one of those near-instantly if you knew to filter for it instead of for the exact solution. 2) Problems like the example given above, where no education past second grade (generously) is needed to actually solve the problem; it's just a matter of how quickly you can figure out what it's asking and how to best determine that. 3) Problems that could be solved, relatively easily but slowly, the "long" way, or that could be solved quickly if you knew the trick. 4) Problems that look complicated, but where getting the answers only requires solving a much simpler subset of the full problem.

None of the three actually test your knowledge of math as a subject, really. #3 is the only type you might reasonably expect to have learned the optimal technique from a teacher, unless your teacher was specifically preparing you for the SAT. A common trend of all of them is that time is of the essence; while some people might genuinely be unable to solve a few of the problems, most of them would just take too long if done the simplest or most straightforward way, and you'd run out of time. The trick was to figure out how to solve each problem quickly, whether because the problem fit a pattern with a quickly-solvable solution, or because the solution required novel thought rather than merely plugging values into a formula, or because the test basically gives you the answer if you know how to spot it.

The subject tests (I did math, physics, and writing) were much more like a classroom test, where actual knowledge of the subject was being tested. You still had to be quick, but the questions were much less likely to be "you can solve this in 10 seconds or 3 minutes, depending on what you do" and more likely to be "you hopefully know the formula for this, so solve it as fast as you can!"

As other people have said, I look forward to reading the rest of this series. I'm surprised this isn't a promoted post...

Comment by CBHacking on Open thread, Feb. 9 - Feb. 15, 2015 · 2015-02-12T09:47:16.925Z · LW · GW

It also raises worrying considerations about how passwords are stored in the database. Passwords should never be stored in plain text, nor with reversible encryption. Instead, each account should store a password verifier value (and a salt, unique to the user).

A password verifier is the result of running a password, its salt, and possibly another input that isn't kept in the DB all through a function that produces some deterministic value that is nigh-impossible to brute force. A property of password verifiers is that they produce output of a constant length, regardless of the input length. This makes it easy to allow arbitrary-length passwords because any actual limit you impose is artificial and exists for some reason other than your database schema.

For those familiar with hash functions: a raw hash, even a long or fancy one like the new SHA3 family, is a bad password verifier function. However, it does exhibit the desired properties with regard to length. In fact, you can build a decent PVF out of cryptographic hash functions; see PBKDF2.

Comment by CBHacking on Open thread, Feb. 9 - Feb. 15, 2015 · 2015-02-12T09:25:02.886Z · LW · GW

One possible solution is to use a proxy. There are a number of specialized HTTP[S] or SOCKS proxies, some of which may be ideally suited for this use or at least easily adaptable to it. The proxy I use most often is called Burp Suite, and is intended for web site testing and isn't really ideal for your use, but it could technically be coerced into doing what you want.

Preserving the actual TLS traffic including authentication and integrity is a bit of a weird/tricky thing to do. You can record it easily enough using any tool capable of packet capture, but unless you store handshake, the traffic, the symmetric (bulk) encryption key, and the integrity metadata, it will be tricky to prove any given server sent that data.

Comment by CBHacking on Open thread, Feb. 9 - Feb. 15, 2015 · 2015-02-09T10:45:21.176Z · LW · GW

Kind of a silly question, but it came up in our Sequences reading group yesterday: in EY's An Intuitive Explanation of Bayes' Theorem, we found the following statement:

It's like the experiment in which you ask a second-grader: "If eighteen people get on a bus, and then seven more people get on the bus, how old is the bus driver?" Many second-graders will respond: "Twenty-five."

Anybody have any idea where this finding comes from initially? We found several people who referenced EY's post, including one second-grade teacher who claimed that he'd been largely able to replicate it (a case of guessing the teacher's password, presumably), plus a bunch of "jokes" where the reader is the driver (so the correct answer is the reader's age), but I didn't see an original source for the experimental result. Maybe my Google-fu is weak but I'm curious if anybody knows...

Comment by CBHacking on Weekly LW Meetups · 2015-02-09T00:01:59.797Z · LW · GW

There's a new weekly Sequences reading/discussion group in Seattle (in addition to the ~monthly EA meetups). Currently every Monday evening at 6:30PM, UW CSE building (Paul G. Allen center). Upcoming one is or see the Seattle EA group on Facebook ( for posted future events. These Sequences-focused meetups are still getting started and don't have a FB group (or similar) of their own yet..

Comment by CBHacking on Weekly LW Meetups · 2015-02-09T00:00:11.286Z · LW · GW

There's a new weekly Sequences reading/discussion group in Seattle (in addition to the ~monthly EA meetups). Currently every Monday evening at 6:30PM, UW CSE (Paul G. Allen center). Upcoming one is or see the Seattle EA group on Facebook ( for posted future events. These Sequences-focused meetups are still getting started and don't have a FB group (or similar) of their own yet..

Comment by CBHacking on Stupid Questions February 2015 · 2015-02-08T07:37:43.609Z · LW · GW

Citation still needed

This is not Wikipedia. If you really believe that average people would not behave this way, say so. If not, asking for a citation is just filibustering.

You really think it's appropriate to object to somebody calling out your unsupported claims as unsupported when they are A) obviously disagreeing with you, to the point where there's absolutely no need to explicitly state it, and B) providing evidence in support of their own claims, with both reasonable arguments and supporting links? In that case, what would it take to convince you?

we have different opinions on organ selling based on irreconcilable differences in opinion about how human beings behave

(Emphasis mine) Should I take it that this is then something you can't actually be convinced of by anything short of incontrovertible proof to the contrary?

Most arguments are meant to convince bystanders. I don't believe that bystanders will think that assertion has a significant chance of being false

Data set of one, but I find Lumifer's arguments far more convincing than yours. This is largely based on the fact that they are actually backed up by something more than the assumption that everybody begins with your personal model of how people make decisions.

Comment by CBHacking on How to save (a lot of) money on flying · 2015-02-03T19:46:38.892Z · LW · GW

Just to check: there's no issue with leaving the flight at the "layover" instead of continuing to your final destination? I mean, I have no objection whatsoever to confusing somebody's database of "where cbhacking is supposed to be" but if it would lead to legal hassles or similar inconveniences I'd like to know.