Posts

Functional silence: communication that minimizes change of receiver's beliefs 2019-02-12T21:32:27.015Z · score: 27 (17 votes)
In favor of tabooing the word “values” and using only “priorities” instead 2018-10-25T22:28:34.920Z · score: 26 (14 votes)
An optimistic explanation of the outrage epidemic 2018-07-15T14:35:26.357Z · score: 17 (12 votes)
The Copenhagen Letter 2017-09-18T18:45:38.469Z · score: 0 (0 votes)
New business opportunities due to self-driving cars 2017-09-06T20:07:47.183Z · score: 8 (8 votes)
Prediction should be a sport 2017-08-10T07:55:44.313Z · score: 13 (13 votes)
Meetup : First LessWrong meetup in Leipzig! 2017-05-17T09:03:01.392Z · score: 0 (1 votes)
Elon Musk launches Neuralink, a venture to merge the human brain with AI 2017-03-28T10:49:44.376Z · score: 1 (2 votes)
Could utility functions be for narrow AI only, and downright antithetical to AGI? 2017-03-16T18:24:22.657Z · score: 6 (6 votes)
In-depth description of a quite strict, quite successful government program against teen substance abuse, spreading from Iceland 2017-01-19T12:04:48.693Z · score: 0 (1 votes)
A different argument against Universal Basic Income 2016-12-28T22:35:31.696Z · score: 13 (14 votes)
What degree of cousins are you and I? Estimates of Consanguinity to promote feelings of kinship and empathy 2015-05-20T17:10:37.941Z · score: 3 (3 votes)
Nick Bostrom's TED talk on Superintelligence is now online 2015-04-27T15:15:21.481Z · score: 23 (24 votes)
3-day Solstice in Leipzig, Germany: small, nice, very low cost, includes accommodation, 19th-21st Dec 2014-10-09T16:38:06.739Z · score: 11 (11 votes)
In order to greatly reduce X-risk, design self-replicating spacecraft without AGI 2014-09-20T20:25:36.802Z · score: 1 (12 votes)
Talking to yourself: A useful thinking tool that seems understudied and underdiscussed 2014-09-09T16:56:38.149Z · score: 33 (34 votes)
[link] The ethics of genetically enhanced monkey slaves 2014-02-20T09:40:56.517Z · score: 3 (9 votes)
A big Singularity-themed Hollywood movie out in April offers many opportunities to talk about AI risk 2014-01-07T17:48:11.363Z · score: 34 (39 votes)
Measuring lethality in reduced expected heartbeats 2014-01-03T14:14:40.145Z · score: 5 (10 votes)
Meetup : Secular Solstice Celebration! (And the Inauguration of the LW Leipzig Community) 2013-11-30T12:42:31.770Z · score: 4 (5 votes)
[Link] Cognitive biases about violence as a negotiating tactic 2013-10-25T11:43:09.909Z · score: 5 (9 votes)
Teaching rationality to kids? 2013-10-16T12:38:25.199Z · score: 9 (10 votes)
Techniques to consciously activate a rationalist self-image 2013-08-30T00:01:14.770Z · score: 2 (7 votes)
The Fermi paradox as evidence against the likelyhood of unfriendly AI 2013-08-01T18:46:53.630Z · score: 5 (20 votes)
Business Insider: "They Finally Tested The 'Prisoner's Dilemma' On Actual Prisoners — And The Results Were Not What You Would Expect" 2013-07-24T12:44:05.763Z · score: 2 (9 votes)
Can we make Drake-like Fermi estimates of expected distance to the next planet with primitive, sentient or self-improving life? 2013-07-10T01:34:36.397Z · score: 0 (9 votes)
Google's Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt: apparently a transhumanist 2013-04-25T00:36:41.935Z · score: 10 (15 votes)
Anybody want to meet in Leipzig, Germany? 2013-04-03T22:53:50.516Z · score: 1 (2 votes)
Caelum est Conterrens: I frankly don't see how this is a horror story 2013-03-06T10:31:48.001Z · score: 28 (30 votes)
My simple hack for increased alertness and improved cognitive functioning: very bright light 2013-01-18T13:43:01.031Z · score: 57 (61 votes)
Replaceability as a virtue 2012-12-12T07:53:48.868Z · score: 5 (30 votes)

Comments

Comment by chaosmage on Winter Solstice 2018 Roundup · 2018-11-28T09:04:26.007Z · score: 10 (6 votes) · LW · GW

There is a Secular Solstice in Berlin, Germany, but it happens in a small apartment so it has to be invitation only and is already full AFAIK.

Frankfurt, Germany might again be doing one but I do not know particulars.

Leipzig, Germany is not having one this year due to the place where the last couple of Solstices happened being currently infested with toddlers.

Comment by chaosmage on Embedded Agents · 2018-11-01T08:47:51.237Z · score: 14 (5 votes) · LW · GW

The text is beautifully condensed. And the handwritten style does help it look casual/inviting.

But the whole thing loaded significantly slower than I read. How many megabytes is this post? I haven't waited this long for a website to load for years.

Comment by chaosmage on On Doing the Improbable · 2018-10-29T13:11:25.300Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · LW · GW

What really helps is mortality and our inbred need to leave a legacy. It is better to pick a project with low probability of success than none at all. That can help you stick with something you only estimate to have a low chance of success, at least long enough to have sunk costs kick in. Does for me anyway.

This mechanism may only work for one man projects, or work in tight knit groups like bands of musicians. Your contribution to a big project doesn't feel like a legacy to the same degree.

Comment by chaosmage on [deleted post] 2018-10-28T17:30:20.522Z

That sounds a *lot* like http://slatestarcodex.com/2018/04/01/the-hour-i-first-believed/ .

It does not sound a lot like any existing variant of Panpsychism. Since the word isn't doing any work here, I suggest you do without it.

Comment by chaosmage on An optimistic explanation of the outrage epidemic · 2018-07-15T20:12:20.418Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

No, the degree of outrage also depends on closeness to the victim. In this case Jews will feel closer to Israelis (the victims of Palestinians), and Muslims will feel closer to Palestinians (the victims of Israelis) so that's what they're outraged about. Closeness to the perpetrator is a factor I think, but I don't expect it is stronger than closeness to the victim.

Comment by chaosmage on Understanding is translation · 2018-06-01T15:35:17.596Z · score: 7 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Yes! Thank you!

I've had similar ideas for a long time. I've translated three books and find that I think of many acts of communication as translations. In particular, I find it useful to think of misunderstandings as mistranslations.

To think of thinking/speaking styles as languages just plain makes sense, and I feel that when people "are on the same wavelength" what is really happening is that they're (somewhat unusually) actually speaking the same language.

I don't use this concept for processes inside a single mind, though. Might be worth thinking about, but a term that denotes work with explicit communications does not seem like a good fit for processes that are almost entirely implicit.

Comment by chaosmage on Eight political demands that I hope we can agree on · 2018-05-01T23:04:20.364Z · score: 0 (7 votes) · LW · GW

#6 is really "we want legal euthanasia" right? Might as well say it like it is.

I think legal prostitution belongs on the list as well.

And maybe an end to tax advantages for churches? Because that's direct state funding for irrationality.

Comment by chaosmage on Mythic Mode · 2018-02-24T10:43:05.182Z · score: 17 (4 votes) · LW · GW

This fake frameworks thing looks quite clearly like Chaos Magic, and the reference to the Book of the Law quote "wine and strange drugs" is a dog whistle to that effect.

Some chaos magicians like to use drug experiences as ready-made containers for what Val calls the Mythic Mode. Some drugs can both increase the ability to suspend disbelief while inside the experience and make it easier to distance oneself from it when outside of it. A good description of techniques for this, with all non-scientific woo-woo strictly optional, is Julian Vayne's "Getting Higher - The Manual of Psychedelic Ceremony".

There's more where that came from. I like to recommend Philip Farber's "Meta-Magick - The Book of Atem" with a bunch of visualization-focused techniques very similar to the ones Kaj Sotola has described and demonstrated to great effect. Julian Vayne's and Nikki Wyrd's "The Book of Baphomet" is perhaps the best example of an artificial myth created with great artistic and poetic skill and then inhabited with significant personal results.

Comment by chaosmage on An Equilibrium of No Free Energy · 2017-11-05T18:57:56.484Z · score: 8 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I posted the idea of installing very bright lights on LW five years ago and Eliezer commented there so I give myself credit for at least making that spontaneous idea more likely. And it happens to be the case I've been thinking about the failings of light boxes for SAD in the meantime.

What happened is that a few people experimented with light therapy, got succcess with 2500lux for two hours, decided two hours per day was infeasible outside the lab, found that they could get the same result dividing the time but multiplying the light intensity and then... just... stopped. They did studies with 10000 lux boxes and that's a relatively expensive study so you better cooperate with a producer of such boxes. So you get some type of kickback and suddenly nobody's interested in studying whether stronger, cheaper lights are even better. Light boxes became a medical device and magically became just as expensive as medical insurers would tolerate. That they don't work for everyone was expected, because no depression treatment works for everyone (maybe except electroconvulsive therapy, and Ketamine but that was later). And LEDs only became cheap enough recently (five years ago they still weren't clearly the cheapest option), so going much beyond 10000 lux presented enough of a technical challenge to make further trials pretty expensive, until recently.

Right now, you could probably do a study with SAD sufferers who have tried light boxes and found them insufficient. Give them a setup that produces like 40000 lux and fits in a normal ceiling fixture so they can have it running while they do things, rather than have to make time to sit in front of it. For a double blind control design, maybe give one group twice the brightness of the other? Have your participants log every day how much time they spent in the room with the lamp running, and how much time they spent outside. Don't give them money but let them keep the lamp if they continue mailing their fillled out questionnaires. Should be doable at a hundred dollars per participant, and without ever physically meeting them. You still need six figures to run that study at a large enough size, and no light box maker is going to fund you.

Comment by chaosmage on New business opportunities due to self-driving cars · 2017-09-13T15:41:58.446Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Yes. I wonder how hard it'll be to sleep in the things. I find sleeper trains generally a bad place to sleep, but that's mostly because of the other passengers.

Comment by chaosmage on New business opportunities due to self-driving cars · 2017-09-12T18:50:28.428Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I should be disappointed, but disappointment requires surprise.

Comment by chaosmage on Inconsistent Beliefs and Charitable Giving · 2017-09-12T13:12:00.548Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Don't worry, you didn't actually come across that way, Lumifer is just being a jerk again. You're fairly new here, so you don't yet know Lumifer prefers that kind of comment. Sorry about him, and about LW not having a mute button.

Comment by chaosmage on New business opportunities due to self-driving cars · 2017-09-12T13:06:38.855Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I completely agree with everything you said here.

Comment by chaosmage on New business opportunities due to self-driving cars · 2017-09-12T12:49:09.061Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

contemporary car design is driven by law-mandated safety requirements

I don't know about your country but in mine (Germany) the car industry has so much influence they basically write their own laws. (That's how we got those safety requirements: They're defense against cheaper cars from abroad.) If their business model stops being focused on general use cars, the laws will change very quickly.

a general-purpose car will spend less time sitting in a parking lot doing nothing while waiting for someone to require it

Sure! Not a problem if its TCO is pretty low. Most of those more specialized vehicles will be cheaper than general purpose cars, because they have sharply reduced capabilities. A great number of them will be pretty small, just enough to carry a single person or (in an even smaller, windowless car) a piece of cargo. Others will have to require paying a premium, but they'll mostly be doing things general purpose cars cannot do, like transport a horse.

Side note: Some of those specialized cars will also be sold, not rented. I imagine rich parents gifting their seven year olds their own car. And as soon as someone makes what is basically just a bed on wheels, a small minority of people will live in those things.

The doctor doesn't come to your house first because her time is more valuable than yours

That's a good point. So maybe it starts with hairdressers.

Of course offering services at home will be most attractive to those who are new to their field and haven't sunk costs into an office.

and second because it's hard (=expensive) to bring along all the nurses and assistants and the medical equipment that she has around her office.

Most doctors need very little equipment most of the time. Some types of doctors (psychiatrists, dermatologists) need very little equipment period.

The cost of a driver is a minor component of the cost of renting large, expensive, luxury things. Taking it out will not make them suddenly affordable.

The main cost is insurance and autonomous vehicles means that one drops hard. The lack of a driver mostly means you can rent things out in a very large operating radius.

And, by the way, who will unload, set up, dismantle and load back into the self-driving truck all these jacuzzis and huge sound systems?

Most of the things never leave the "truck". The vehicle is built around them, on a standardized flat chassis. Some of them will have staff, sure. For example, you'd have a bartender if you were renting out a highly specialized mobile bar that has casks of twenty different excellent whiskeys and might be popular with bachelor parties.

Also, about the "stuff that previously only millionaires or billionaires would afford" that your median-income person would be able to rent if only you take the truck driver out of the equation -- literally nothing comes to my mind.

Alright. I'll leave it at that.

They are called caravans or camper vans or RVs. They exist. Have you tried renting them? They are quite expensive to rent, much more so than hotel rooms.

You're simply wrong about rental RVs: their prices are not much more expensive than hotel rooms anymore. (They do remain more expensive than small rental cars.) Check for yourself at places like http://www.apollorv.com/ . They'll get cheaper by going electric (like all cars will) due to less moving parts and less repairs. They'll get cheaper again by going autonomous (like all cars will) due to less mass for the driver cab and less accidents. So even if it was just self-driving RVs, they'd be an opportunity to disrupt stationary hotels.

But RVs are lower class than most hotel rooms, they're cramped, they're optimized for carrying lots of supplies and they have kitchens. A lot of people wouldn't want to use an RV even if it was half the price of a typical hotel room. If you have a self-driving RV and you want to really tear into the market share of stationary hotels, you throw out the kitchen and most of the cupboards and put in the best bed that you can make fit and a great entertainment system.

" for a large number of people, driving is their only reason not to drink or do drugs" -- that's, um, wrong. I have no idea how you came up with such nonsense.

Couple of years in psychiatric research.

no such thing as a "sailing license" (in most countries that I know of)

So you don't know a lot of European countries? I don't know a lot of non-European ones, so you may be right this isn't a factor there.

renting sizeable boats is quite expensive

Exactly. And why? Because the risk of accidents, and the insurance to cover that, is a larger cost factor than with cars. And the main advantage of vehicle autonomy is the sharply reduced number of accidents.

Recreational boating doesn't want fully autonomous boats, anyway

Maybe many don't. But recreational divers and anglers and people who just need to get across the water will be happy with it.

commercial shipping already uses autopilots and still finds out that it needs people to run ships

Yes but it needs way fewer people. If you charter a yacht now, you have a crew of at least 5 people. With an autonomous yacht, you can go down to one crewmember who mostly cleans the place, and maybe a cook.

Renting a self-driving truck is not going to be cheaper than renting a regular truck

Your assertion is ludicrous. Yes it will be cheaper, and a lot. The self-driving truck doesn't need to carry all the mass that the driver needs, including fragile points of failure such as windows, it doesn't have mandatory stop times, it gets into way fewer accidents, it basically cannot be stolen. If you don't think a self-driving truck company can undercut a traditional trucking company, I hope you don't run a trucking company.

Comment by chaosmage on New business opportunities due to self-driving cars · 2017-09-11T09:44:09.086Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Wow, this is amazing! Thank you!

He talks about various general effects rather than specific business opportunities, so the overlap is very small, but his vision and mine seem entirely compatible.

Comment by chaosmage on New business opportunities due to self-driving cars · 2017-09-11T09:18:47.446Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

What I failed to say is that I expect the time between production of a good and arrival at the customer to continue to shorten. I think additive manufacturing makes just in time production economical for a growing segment of goods.

Obviously the production and delivery specifics of different goods are very different. Wheat will continue to be warehoused long after jewellery and clothing have completely moved to just in time production and direct delivery. I misstated my position by not mentioning these important differences.

I say I think this transition will be slower than the others because I imagine it starts with goods that are precious, fragile or spoil quickly, i.e. the goods where you most want to minimize loading and unloading.

I don't think trucks will be free, but I do think they'll be much cheaper per ton per mile than they are now. Electric means the motor gets rid of most moving parts and becomes much more reliable. Autonomy means the rest of the vehicle gets rid of all the things that only a driver needs, especially the operator's cab and mandatory stop times. A warehouse will still be cheaper in many cases (especially in rural areas), but the fraction of things that it is easier to just leave in the car can only go up.

Comment by chaosmage on New business opportunities due to self-driving cars · 2017-09-11T08:54:17.350Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

You make excellent points. I hadn't even heard of SnapGoods, NeighborGoods etc.

I'm imagining it not as a peer to peer service, but more along the lines of a car rental company that owns a fleet of things it rents out.

I think you're right about the need to build a significant customer base rather quickly. My guess is that it might be feasible to first offer big expensive things that people don't usually own already, like a fancy jacuzzi, a top end VR rig, a complete "wedding size" soundsystem and a bouncy castle. And once you're known for those, work your way down into more normal consumer goods, guided by the requests of your first customers.

Comment by chaosmage on New business opportunities due to self-driving cars · 2017-09-11T08:35:12.224Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Well said.

To be fair, I didn't expect this to be voted very high. Not in these times. I was basically writing this down to have a public record of the talk I gave, and to look back at this years later and see how I did predicting things.

I do see your larger point though. I was clearly motivated to produce this by the large and friendly crowd at the European Less Wrong Community Weekends, where most people go by Crocker's Rule and give way better feedback than Lumifer is able to. The little extra effort of writing down would have been worth it even if all the comments would have been Lumifer level quality. If LessWrong was the only place I put these ideas, the current environment here would indeed not feel very much worth the work of spelling them out in the first place.

Comment by chaosmage on New business opportunities due to self-driving cars · 2017-09-11T08:19:25.989Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

"services that go visit the customer outcompete ones that the customer has to go visit" - and what does this have to do with self-driving cars? Whether the doctor has to actively drive the car to travel to the patient, or can just sit there in the car while the car drives all the way, the same time is still lost due to the travel, and the same fuel is still used up.

Yes. But a significant part of the job of a doctor is paperwork (filing stuff for insurance companies etc.) and she can do that while the car drives itself. If she had to hire a driver (and have her sit idly while she's with a patient), the driver would be the most expensive part of her vehicle, just like the taxi driver is the most expensive part of the taxi.

If she's the kind of doctor that can carry all her equipment inside that car (i.e. not a radiologist 😉) she might even be able to abolish her office and waiting room entirely, for extra savings.

And self driving hotel rooms? What, are we in the Harry Potter world where things can be larger in the inside than in the outside?

No, we're in a world where tourists generally don't mind going slowly and enjoying the view. These things would be pretty big on the outside, at least RV size, but they wouldn't be RVs. They wouldn't usually have kitchens and their showers would have to be way nicer than typical RV showers.

Comment by chaosmage on New business opportunities due to self-driving cars · 2017-09-09T12:47:26.442Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I don't see how it was a failure, so you're wrong about it being obvious.

Given the intensity of your criticism, I wonder why you aren't being more specific about the faults you see here.

Comment by chaosmage on Prediction should be a sport · 2017-08-11T14:50:21.528Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'd definitely want to participate, and looking at the yearly predictions SSC and others do, I'm surely not the only one.

But someone would have to set it up, run it and advertise it. You don't even strictly need to write software for it. It could be done on any forum, as a thread or series of threads. It could be done here, if this place wasn't so empty nowadays.

Comment by chaosmage on Prediction should be a sport · 2017-08-10T14:38:22.534Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I don't know why you think that. Quiz shows need huge production values and very valuable prizes to still be interesting.

With the kind of budget that's conceivable for a startup group of amateur organizers, you have to be novel/creative to be found worth noticing outside the immediate circle of participants. Sure you could run a quiz show on a shoestring budget, but nobody is going to talk about it after.

And since this is about reaching people with ideas of thinking in probabilities and updating on evidence, everything that doesn't get talked about after is a failure. Even if the event itself was entertaining.

Comment by chaosmage on Prediction should be a sport · 2017-08-10T12:09:20.622Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

But in that case, it isn't really about prediction anymore. A game like that rewards knowledge, not the ability to do research and deal with probabilistic information.

Someone who has read a lot of Wikipedia, or who happens to have read papers on topics similar to the experiment in question, could outperform someone who constructs predictions very rationally but from a different set of domain knowledge facts. This makes it closer to a quiz show, i.e. a less original and less interesting event.

A slow, online tournament (where everyone has the same internet to do research in) greatly reduces the value of blunt knowledge and makes success more dependent on the ability to weigh evidence.

Comment by chaosmage on Prediction should be a sport · 2017-08-10T11:11:08.347Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

A special event can bring people together, but most games of Poker don't happen in the setting of a tournament.

Oh, absolutely. But the big events are great PR and lead to lots of private games. So if there's a big event for prediction I think that helps people start to think in probabilities and conscious handling of prediction on other occasions.

Poker has the advantage of being able to be played casually with low feedback circles. Adrenalin rises while you play and you don't have to wait a year to see whether or not you win.

I think we need games like the credence game that have tight feedback loops.

That would be cool. I have a hard time imagining them though. Maybe a group of players could watch a video together, pause every couple of minutes and place percentages on a set of predictions on what happens next?

Comment by chaosmage on Prediction should be a sport · 2017-08-10T10:50:11.219Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

A simple fix would be to include predictions about particular parts of the year. For example, have a bunch of predictions about each quarter, on top of the ones about the whole year. And then you could have an extra prize for each quarter where you score only that subset of predictions.

You could easily go more short term, like "what are your predictions for September", but I think this requires more participation and work from everyone so maybe it would be better as a second step that you do only if the relatively relaxed yearly tournament has turned out to be cool.

Comment by chaosmage on Prediction should be a sport · 2017-08-10T09:56:48.863Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

In that type of scenario, I think it is hard to avoid a situation where domain knowledge dominates rational handling of evidence. It might be better, I don't know. Could you describe in more detail what kind of game you're imagining?

I'm slightly biased against it because this seems even more like gambling. Specifically, like sports betting. And as soon as you involve prizes, it'll be hard to avoid being subject to gambling legislation.

Comment by chaosmage on The Unyoga Manifesto · 2017-08-09T08:06:32.781Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I like this a lot, especially the beginning. Concise, clear and true. And the bit about the difficulty of following subtle gradients is particularly well put.

I'd like you to flesh this out more, especially because the title "manifesto" leads readers to expect more substance. Maybe add examples, or thoughts on group vs. solitary practice, or considerations about yoga for kids and yoga for seniors, and in each case make very clear what you think isn't helpful and what you think is.

Comment by chaosmage on Bet or update: fixing the will-to-wager assumption · 2017-06-08T10:32:27.389Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Is there a way to get the benefit of including betting into settling arguments, without the shady associations (and possible legal ramifications) of it being gambling?

Comment by chaosmage on Net Utility and Planetary Biocide · 2017-04-28T14:17:41.744Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, because it has more potential for improvement.

The Earth of a million years ago, where every single animal was fighting for its life in an existence of pain and hunger, was more hellish than the present one, where at least a percent or so are comparatively secure. So that's an existence proof of hellishness going away.

Emptiness doesn't go away. Empty worlds evidently tend to stay empty. We now see enough of them well enough to know that.

Comment by chaosmage on Effective altruism is self-recommending · 2017-04-22T06:01:28.686Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Very very interesting. I have nothing to add except: This would get more readers and comments if the summary was at the top, not the bottom.

Comment by chaosmage on Net Utility and Planetary Biocide · 2017-04-09T08:04:24.842Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not convinced that perpetual suffering is particularly human. We could be the species of animal that suffers least on an average day, since we have better solutions to hunger and thirst than anyone else and no predator is likely to disembowel us and our offspring in our sleep.

So it seems to me what you're really doing is questioning the value of (conscious) life itself. Is that right?

It is an old question that has been answered many ways, because no single answer has appealed to everybody. Buddhism is one answer that I particularly dislike but is apparently soothing to many.

To me, an indictment of life itself as not worth living is a reductio ad absurdum of the whole project of reducing the complexity of literally everything to a single one-dimensional utility-disutility scale to which everything is commensurable. (The paperclip maximizer is another.)

My personal supposition is that (conscious) life is an engine that runs on (conscious) suffering to produce (conscious) understanding. And since there are probably innumerable lifeless universes, I'd rather have one with suffering and understanding in it, if only for variety, than prefer another lifeless one. I don't expect to convince you, I'm just saying this works for me.

Comment by chaosmage on Musical setting of the Litany of Tarski · 2017-04-07T18:30:24.531Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It seems like something like airgigs.com seems to be the answer. It has musicians available down into the 50 dollars range.

Comment by chaosmage on Project Hufflepuff: Planting the Flag · 2017-04-07T14:19:37.243Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

This might be too obvious to mention, but Eliezer's2009 post "Why our kind can't cooperate" seems quite relevant to this. http://lesswrong.com/lw/3h/why_our_kind_cant_cooperate/

Comment by chaosmage on Musical setting of the Litany of Tarski · 2017-04-07T12:46:57.546Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Because musicians from low-wage countries can compete in such a market.

Comment by chaosmage on Project Hufflepuff: Planting the Flag · 2017-04-03T14:18:01.237Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

One of the skills to talk about would be the skill of actively proselytizing and getting people into rationality. I don't mean onboarding people who are already interested, I mean actually going up to people who you wish were rationalists and trying to make them.

Successful communities do this, although the specifics vary widely. EA does it, which I think is why EA is growing while LW isn't. We've been largely coasting on Eliezer's wave.

Thus is difficult because LW rationality arose in the tech culture of California, I.e. an unusually individualistic culture within an unusually individualistic part of the most individualistic country ever. Only in California could one be called a "cult" for seeking a consensus philosophy. Any active proselytizing would definitely encounter the "cult" charge again.

But proselytizing works. It keeps a movement young - we're already noticably older on average than we were ten years ago and we're starting to look like a cohort of tech nerds who were in their impressionable college age when Eliezer wrote the sequences. And it keeps a movement dynamic - if new people are coming in all the time, you don't have to suffer the ossification that it takes to retain people as they get older. LW rationality has no less need of this than other movements.

And there are definitely people who are much better at it than others, so a systematic study of what works is eminently doable. I think this fits squarely into Project Hufflepuff.

Comment by chaosmage on Musical setting of the Litany of Tarski · 2017-03-28T10:58:33.679Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I see. That's really neat! Thanks!

Isn't there some choir-for-hire somewhere on the web who will record a score for a couple of bucks? It seems that logically, there should be.

Comment by chaosmage on Musical setting of the Litany of Tarski · 2017-03-27T13:07:52.228Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Cool. Is there a recording? I cannot read notation well enough to imagine what it sounds like.

Do you make other compositions, and how does this compare to your other work?

Comment by chaosmage on Could utility functions be for narrow AI only, and downright antithetical to AGI? · 2017-03-16T21:14:34.518Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

That makes sense. But it isn't what Eliezer says in that talk:

There’s a whole set of different ways we could look at agents, but as long as the agents are sufficiently advanced that we have pumped most of the qualitatively bad behavior out of them, they will behave as if they have coherent probability distributions and consistent utility functions.

Do you disagree with him on that?

Comment by chaosmage on In support of Yak Shaving · 2017-03-16T10:34:06.544Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I would have benefitted from about two detailed real-life examples, because while you seem to make sense, I find your reasoning to be slightly too abstract for my puny mind. But cool article. Thanks.

Comment by chaosmage on Open Thread, Feb. 20 - Feb 26, 2017 · 2017-02-23T10:36:31.556Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

you might reasonably take the view that anyone who thinks the evidence is so one-sided that it would take an impossible amount of future evidence to change their mind is ipso facto probably nuts. So you might write them off after all

I agree that would be the sensible response, but I'm curious for ways to engage with people who see the world radically differently.

An ability to build particularly long bridges of consensus across particularly wide chasms of preconceptions could do the world a lot of good, if it is a learnable and teachable skill.

Comment by chaosmage on European Community Weekend 2017 · 2017-02-21T08:08:51.130Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The last two times, there was an excellent welcome dinner at noon, but the actual programme started only at like 3pm. I definitely recommend being there by noon.

Comment by chaosmage on Stupidity as a mental illness · 2017-02-14T11:37:34.767Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I agree it isn't nice. I upvoted it anyway, because it is a very original idea that merits a discussion with not entirely predictable outcomes.

This isn't just the most-upvoted submission in a while, it is also the most-discussed in an even longer while.

Comment by chaosmage on Open thread, Feb. 13 - Feb. 19, 2017 · 2017-02-14T11:27:43.359Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Computerphile has a lot of interesting material. But my favorite is interviews with famous scientists and Elon Musk.

Comment by chaosmage on Allegory On AI Risk, Game Theory, and Mithril · 2017-02-14T11:24:06.477Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

I like this. I wonder what would happen if you post this on some LOTR fanfiction subreddit or something, with a link to a discussion of AI risk at the end.

Comment by chaosmage on Stupidity as a mental illness · 2017-02-14T11:17:51.187Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Testosterone tests are common in the group that tends to need them (men over 40).

Freudian psychoanalysis continues to be paid for by health insurers in Germany for historical reasons and there's an aging cohort of psychoanalysts making their living with it in private practice, but clinics overwhelmingly do CBT instead, even in Germany.

What would convince you that St John's Wort is inferior to modern antidepressants?

Comment by chaosmage on Stupidity as a mental illness · 2017-02-14T00:01:00.133Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It doesn't have to be "a lot" to be better than the 1.80 points for SSRI's.

For a single individual, no. But to beat 1.8 points on average across multiple studies with hundreds of subjects, yes that would have to be "a lot". And it simply isn't.

Testosterone levels are a standard test, lead poisoning has thankfully become so rare it isn't usually tested. But those are object level distractions from the point that mental health has advanced enormously, and a big part of that is the diagnostic side.

Freudian psychoanalysis doesn't (usually) help, of course. That's why I didn't include it in the lists of things that can.

Depression drugs also have their side effects.

Obviously. What's your point?

Comment by chaosmage on Stupidity as a mental illness · 2017-02-13T12:16:06.499Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

But what's the problem with that if the difference between placebo's and the drugs is only so small?

On the treatment side, the difference between placebos and SSRIs is small. But again, SSRIs are only a small part of "the drugs". They're what we try first because they require very little oversight by the doctor and they work often enough, whether by large placebo response or by smaller genuine effect. But if they don't, there are second and third and fourth and more things we can try, ending with electroconvulsive therapy that works really well but is super difficult/expensive to administer.

But the bigger difference isn't in the treatment, it is in the diagnosis. Today we distinguish between about a dozen different mood disorders with different treatment plans (although most of these plans do involve SSRIs at some point). And most of all, we've gotten a lot better (though still not perfect) at distinguishing what is pathological and what is, say, a normal reaction to bereavement or an adaptive response to an abusive partner.

Without this knowledge, depression would often go unnoticed or one form of it would be mistaken for another. You have depression caused by a testosterone deficiency? You seem to be troubled, go pray. You have depression caused by lead poisoning? You seem to be troubled, go pray. You're decompensating and probably going to have a psychotic break within the month? You seem to be troubled, go pray.

It's not even clear that praying to a god who supposedly loves you has no positive effects and is worse than the the drugs.

Oh, prayer does have some positive effects. We call it religious coping and there are studies that prove it can help with (for example) fear of death in end stage cancer patients. But you have to be fairly intensely religious to get a measurable benefit, and it doesn't help a lot.

There are a few studies showing religiosity to be weakly negatively correlated with depression (example), and a few others showing it to be weakly positively correlated (example). If prayer helped a lot with depression the evidence would be much more clear cut.

There are also a variety of traditional remedies that should at least have placebo effects.

Yes. And terrible side effects, too. St John's Wort and Kava are among the worst examples. Or, again, Opium.

And if you count religious practice as a remedy, you should count the time and sacrifice it requires, as well as the wrong beliefs it entails, as side effects as well.

Comment by chaosmage on Stupidity as a mental illness · 2017-02-11T22:49:46.079Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

If you think these are equivalent, I can only hope nobody depends on you for mental health advice.

Comment by chaosmage on Stupidity as a mental illness · 2017-02-11T20:04:06.092Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Depression responds to placebo better than pneumonia does. That's what I mean when I say it responds well to placebo. But depression still responds to modern psychiatric care better than to placebo. That's the linked analysis' main takeaway from the study ChristianKl mentioned.

SSRIs alone do somewhat better than placebo. Modern psychiatric care is way more than SSRIs, these are only one of many tools. There are also anxiolytics and iodine and MAO inhibitors and relaxation exercises and CBT and a whole bunch of other things that all work better than placebo for some patients. And all of them only became available a few years or decades ago.

Comment by chaosmage on Stupidity as a mental illness · 2017-02-11T17:56:59.818Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

No I don't. Enlighten me.