Information on time-complexity prior? 2021-01-08T06:09:03.462Z
D0TheMath's Shortform 2020-10-09T02:47:30.056Z
Why does "deep abstraction" lose it's usefulness in the far past and future? 2020-07-09T07:12:44.523Z


Comment by D0TheMath on The secret of Wikipedia's success · 2021-04-15T14:10:12.095Z · LW · GW

This is an interesting perspective on why Wikipedia can be as reliable as it is, but I don't think it being untrusted by The Powers That Be is why we don't see more disinformation attacks or propaganda using it as a medium, since sources like Reddit, Twitter, and Facebook posts are commonly used for such attacks, and it wouldn't surprise me if blogs were too. We also see few such attacks on some sources which The Powers That Be do trust, notably journal articles (though such attacks don't never happen).

Another theory may be that Wikipedia is labeled unreliable because it is not controlled by The Powers That Be, similar to how there was a reputation attack on Substack not that long ago, not because there are morally corrupt people blogging on the platform, but because it explicitly rejects the control of The Powers That Be. The contra-positive of if you can't beat them, join them.

Comment by D0TheMath on Direct effects matter! · 2021-03-14T16:18:07.793Z · LW · GW

Have you considered the possibility that people do not list first-order effects to individuals because huge swaths of the political establishment do not actually care about people they don't know?

I think this fails to explain why even when the people talking are directly affected (such as with the UBI example, which would affect everyone) we don’t see as much focus on the direct effects of the policy.

This leads me to believe it could somewhat be the opposite of what you suggested. If I say that UBI would give people money, and so it’s good, people may suspect me of only advocating for a UBI because I selfishly wanted money, rather than for more pro-social reasons. However if I say UBI is good because it allows for young couples to start families, increasing the birth rate & population, then because I am not in a young couple there is no chance I could be arguing for such a policy for purely selfish reasons, so must be arguing for it because I genuinely believe it will help others.

So people may argue using nth order effects because those effects will explicitly disclude the affects of the policy on the arguer.

Comment by D0TheMath on Direct effects matter! · 2021-03-14T06:34:52.401Z · LW · GW

I've noticed a similar neglect of obvious first order effects too. Intuitively the signalling and counter-signalling explanations seem the most likely to be correct to me.

This reminds me of the following popular meme template:

In this template you have very smart people and very dumb people coming to the same conclusion by using similar simple arguments, while the moderately intelligent come up with complex, clever, but ultimately wrong arguments for why the obvious policy choice is incorrect. Here, I've made a version with the very dumb & very smart arguing that death is bad using the obvious argument that "it kills people", while the moderately intelligent person argues that death is good because of various commonly argued second-order pro-death arguments.

Comment by D0TheMath on Introducing Metaforecast: A Forecast Aggregator and Search Tool · 2021-03-08T18:14:35.568Z · LW · GW

I think it'd probably be better to include closed forecasts as well (maybe decreasing the star rating to indicate it may not be up to date on information), just because a lot of the time Metaculus will close a question long before it actually resolves. For instance, here the question is closed, but will resolve at the end of 2029.

Comment by D0TheMath on Introducing Metaforecast: A Forecast Aggregator and Search Tool · 2021-03-08T14:07:05.850Z · LW · GW

This is a very cool platform and I look forward to using it to supplement my own forecasts and decision making.

Do the active questions shown from Metaculus include just open questions, or open & closed (but not resolved) questions as well?

Comment by D0TheMath on Pragmatic Cutoffs · 2021-03-08T01:29:42.363Z · LW · GW

Maybe it'd help to list a few concrete examples where you think you could've made a better decision by paying attention to the news more, places you believe you made a good decision based on news, and places where you made bad decisions based on news. Then figure out what possible strategies you could have used to preserve the good decisions you made, minimizing the bad decisions, and maximizing the good decisions.

Comment by D0TheMath on Garden Party 2.0 · 2021-03-08T01:17:33.563Z · LW · GW

A minor improvement to the app would be the ability to move around using the mouse. But that's only because my particular setup requires me to reach over my desk to access my video-conferencing computer's keyboard, so I'm not sure how much you'd want to prioritize that.

It says something about the quality of Gather Town that that's the only improvement I can think of.

Comment by D0TheMath on Check OK, babble-read, optimize (how I read textbooks) · 2021-03-06T16:27:40.359Z · LW · GW

The first two levels I am very familiar with in my own reading, but I’ve never consciously done the last compression level. However when I go through my own Anki cards I will often give the answer in a much more compressed way than how I originally wrote it down, so it’s likely happening at some level during my memorization or reading process.

Comment by D0TheMath on Information on time-complexity prior? · 2021-01-08T22:45:51.347Z · LW · GW


Comment by D0TheMath on Ways to be more agenty? · 2021-01-05T19:54:15.343Z · LW · GW

Yeah, so you wouldn't say something like "I want to run", or "I should get some exercise". You would say "If I go for a run, then I will likely feel refreshed and would increase the probability that my overall health increases over the long-run. Possibly causing me to live longer, and certainly increasing my future life-satisfaction. At the cost of moderate exhaustion in the near-term." then you compare the result which that action would cause to the results which alternative actions cause, choose the most favorable world-state, and perform the action which causes that world state to occur.

Comment by D0TheMath on Ways to be more agenty? · 2021-01-05T14:07:32.586Z · LW · GW

One take-away I really liked about The Replacing Guilt Sequence was the idea that---instead of choosing between actions, you should think about the world-state that each action results in, then choose which of those world-states that you like more. But that's just me, and your mind probably reacts a bit differently.

For the situation in which you find yourself---in which you don't really know what you want to do. You just want to do something, I'd recommend the lessons from this post from the sequence.

It seems to me that the listless guilt usually stems from not doing anything in particular. I'm not sure how to remove that feeling of guilt in people who aren't doing anything in particular. But if they shift the guilt to being guilty about not doing one thing in particular, then I have some tools that might help.

Comment by D0TheMath on Uninformed Elevation of Trust · 2020-12-28T18:52:58.311Z · LW · GW

The Sequences are great, except in my area of expertise, where they are terrible

Can I get an example of a section of The Sequences where someone with the relevant area of expertise would say that that it's terrible?

Comment by D0TheMath on I don't want to listen, because I will believe you · 2020-12-28T18:37:46.054Z · LW · GW

A good example of who we should strive to be like is Julia Galef, on her podcast Rationally Speaking. Here, she'll read several books about the topics to be discussed, then talk with her interviewees, keeping the epistemic bar very high. Asking about predictions their hypotheses have made in the past, unnecessary complexities which don't seem justified, and generally applying high-quality Bayesian rationality to the points given. Neither shying away from disagreement like I would, nor talking to people with niche ideas for the sake of talking to people with niche ideas like Joe Rogan would.

Comment by D0TheMath on I don't want to listen, because I will believe you · 2020-12-28T18:22:21.156Z · LW · GW

This advice could be beneficial to a theoretical person who felt the need to talk & hear the points given by everyone they disagreed with, about every point of disagreement, and slightly less extreme versions of this person. I’m thinking about people like Joe Rogan here, who listen to everyone, and seemingly put very little effort into making sure the arguments given by such people are valid.

I, on the other hand, am very averse to discussing fundamental disagreements or reading about why I may be wrong. Such aversion makes it difficult for me to tell when the person I’m talking to is right about a particular topic, and makes me underestimate the benefits of knowing about their position. So I don’t think this advice—that is, the advice about not talking to people you disagree with—is helpful for me, or people like me. Many of the recommendations listed like turning off background info dumps, having an add blocker, and (to a lesser extent, admittedly) staying away from political discussions I do instinctively & automatically.

Comment by D0TheMath on The Good Try Rule · 2020-12-27T20:52:10.640Z · LW · GW

This is symbolic experimentation, and it's worse than doing nothing at all. I can feel as though I've explored many ways to optimize my life, when in fact I've been accumulating failed attempts to change my habits. The anecdotal opinions I gather from these experiences are worse than sheer ignorance. They're a bunch of fish stories.

Now that you mention it, this is definitely a problem, at least for me. The times I've tried something, but haven't given it a "good try" versus the times I've actually followed through with that thing seem to be weighted too similarly than they should. It's good to distinguish between these two types of exploration.

A corollary for this realization, assuming this bias is common in the population, is that you should probably ask others how long they tried doing something they're recommending you do or don't do.

I'm skeptical about how effective "good tries" can be as a substitute for lock ins and creating habits. There's something to be said about having a pre-defined exit-condition & goal state you're attempting to reach though. In combination with TAPs, peer pressure, and monetary lock-in (using something like Beeminder, or a friend taking collateral and then destroying it if you don't follow through) the addition of a "good try" rule as an evaluation metric of how much you should update as a result of your experiments is probably a good idea.

Comment by D0TheMath on Great minds might not think alike · 2020-12-27T17:22:34.072Z · LW · GW

I’ve been vaguely grasping at this concept—that I give too little credence to people who think differently from me—and this was a great crystallization.

Comment by D0TheMath on Hermione Granger and Newcomb's Paradox · 2020-12-14T14:24:00.658Z · LW · GW


If you open the transparent envelope then one pound will be deducted from you your Muggle bank account and the opaque envelope will have contained nothing. If you never open the transparent

Comment by D0TheMath on Final Version Perfected: An Underused Execution Algorithm · 2020-11-30T00:23:45.747Z · LW · GW

This algorithm seems like it can be generalized for any human decision algorithm. For instance, I'm usually pretty indecisive while trying to order food, but I'd bet that implementing this algorithm would speed up my decision making immensely, while guaranteeing I'd be selecting the best option available.

Comment by D0TheMath on What is the right phrase for "theoretical evidence"? · 2020-11-13T20:50:17.365Z · LW · GW

I'm a bit late to the game here, but you may be thinking of a facet of "logical induction". Basically, logical induction is changing your hypotheses based on putting more thought into an issue, without necessarily getting more Bayesian evidence.

The simplest example is when deciding whether a mathematical proof is true. Technically, you already have a hypothesis that perfectly predicts your data---ZFC set theory---but proving the proof is highly computationally expensive using this hypothesis, so if you want a probability estimate of whether the proof is true you need some other prediction mechanism.

See the Consequences of Logical Induction sequence for more information.

Comment by D0TheMath on The (Unofficial) Less Wrong Comment Challenge · 2020-11-12T03:37:43.256Z · LW · GW

This makes sense, and I've updated the comment to reflect what I meant more accurately. Though I think the improvement is very minor, and your time could likely be spent on more important things than providing marginal improvements to LessWrong comments, I thank you none-the-less.

Comment by D0TheMath on The (Unofficial) Less Wrong Comment Challenge · 2020-11-11T16:46:49.837Z · LW · GW

I often feel like I have very little to contribute in a given discussion, so I typically don't comment, but I will comment more, as this post both presents a cool community experiment & has caused me to update my estimate of all feedback’s value upwards. Also, I like posts like this which try to push the community of the forum in a new direction to see if it adds or subtracts value.

My comment challenge: I will comment on all front-page posts that I see & read that are not from AF, unless I see a disrupting decrease in my willingness to read posts.

Comment by D0TheMath on Why does History assume equal national intelligence? · 2020-10-31T04:34:21.634Z · LW · GW

D0TheMath's answer (which maybe should really be a comment?)

Yeah, sorry. It is more of a comment. Moved to comments section.

Comment by D0TheMath on Why does History assume equal national intelligence? · 2020-10-30T23:40:58.068Z · LW · GW

Could you give a few historical examples of where you think the collective intelligence of the parties involved is underestimated as a factor in the outcomes of those parties? It seems to me that most history I've read does come right out and say "party X was smarter than party Y". Examples such as Caesar and Genghis Khan come to mind, as well as Darius the Great as counter examples to the trend you describe. Both in their domestic political maneuvering, administrative skills, and war tactics.

Edit: moved to comments, as per grim's suggestion.

Comment by D0TheMath on D0TheMath's Shortform · 2020-10-09T02:47:30.465Z · LW · GW

I tried implementing Tell communication strategies, and the results were surprisingly effective. I have no idea how it never occurred to me to just tell people what I'm thinking, rather than hinting and having them guess what I was thinking, or me guess the answers to questions I have about what they're thinking.

Edit: although, tbh, I'm assuming a lot less common conceptual knowledge between me, and my conversation partners than the examples in the article.

Comment by D0TheMath on Rationality and Climate Change · 2020-10-06T14:22:08.086Z · LW · GW

When I began writing this, I thought very little good could be done by working on climate change, since of how popular the topic is. But as I wrote, and thought about the issue, I realized that you have a point, and that working on effective solutions to the problem has a high chance of being effective, if not particularly suited for me. I would enjoy seeing more in-depth analyses which do actual research, and attach numbers to the vague feelings of importance I express here.

Using EA's usual decision matrix of Scale, Solvability, and Neglectedness :

Neglectedness, at first glance, seems very low. For the past 20 years there's been a huge media campaign to get people to "solve" climate change, and everyone's aware of it. However, very little effort is expended working & advocating for effective solutions to the problem (ie helping developing countries prepare), and much of the effort seems to be going to low-Solvability & Scale tasks such as attempting to prevent carbon emissions. Thus, despite near-constant media attention, it seems likely that effective solutions are actually very Neglected.

Scale seems pretty large. Those hit hardest will be the people with the least ability to invest in mitigation technologies, and most reliance on nature. Aka: developing countries. Thus lifting developing countries out of their poverty will be much harder in the near-term future. Notably, this poses little risk to the long-term flourishing of the human race, whereas other global catastrophic risks such as dangerous AI, nuclear war, biological war, etc. seem to have both a higher Scale, and higher Neglectedness.

Solvability seems like it'd range from insurmountably low to medium-high, depending on what you choose to focus on. Many of the problems that affect more affluent nations seem like they'd be solved through mitigating technologies, and not through reversing climate change's effects. Things like dams and levees are technologies we already have, and things that the Dutch (note: I looked that up, so I could provide a source, but I knew it was a thing already from an Environmental Science course I took during high school) already use to keep their cities above sea-level. I would bet there are other, similarly low-hanging technologies which would vastly lower the effects of climate change on developing countries. These developing countries would likely develop and implement these technologies once effects from climate change are seen, regardless of what they believe the cause of such climate change is.

Increases in resources here though, seem like they'd have little impact on the outcome for these developing countries. Since there is a large incentive for cities and companies to make and invest in these technologies, they will likely be developed regardless of what interventions are worked on.

By my understanding, even if we stopped all of our carbon output immediately, there'd still be a devastating 2C increase in the average temperature of the earth. And developing countries would be at a great disadvantage developing the infrastructure needed to mitigate it's effects, so the Solvability here is incredibly low.

Thus the goal of "fighting" climate change should focus on providing developing countries the infrastructure they need to be prepared. This doesn't seem like particularly interesting work to me, nor particularly suited to my skills when compared to other ways of improving the world. However, I'd need more knowledge about the effects and the current effective interventions to be confident in my conclusions. Currently, counter to what I thought before writing this, the field seems promising.

Comment by D0TheMath on What's Wrong with Social Science and How to Fix It: Reflections After Reading 2578 Papers · 2020-09-13T21:05:46.569Z · LW · GW

some method of incentivizing novelty / importance

Citation count clearly isn't a good measure of accuracy, but it's likely a good measure of importance in a field. So we could run some kind of expected value calculation where the usefulness of a paper is measured by P(result is true) * (# of citations) - P(result is false) * (# of citations) = (# of citations) * [P(result is true) - P(result is false)].

Edit: where the probabilities are approximated by replication markets. I think this function gives us what we actually want, so optimizing institutions to maximize it seems like a good idea.

Edit: This doesn't actually represent what we want, since journals can just force everyone to cite the same well replicated study to maximize citation count on that, but it's a good approximation. Not a great goal, but a good measurement of what we want, but we shouldn't optimize institutions to maximize it.

Comment by D0TheMath on How do you organise your reading? · 2020-08-08T06:07:11.072Z · LW · GW

What kind of "specialized tools" do you use?

Comment by D0TheMath on How "honest" is GPT-3? · 2020-07-08T21:51:33.240Z · LW · GW

Ah I see. Misinterpreted what you were saying in that last Note.

Comment by D0TheMath on How "honest" is GPT-3? · 2020-07-08T20:17:00.404Z · LW · GW

To my knowledge, GPT-3 doesn't store information about it's "thought" process, so if GPT-3 is able to explain it's own puns, it would necessarily be able to explain similar puns made by people.