Posts

A kind or reverse "tragedy of the commons" - any solution ideas? 2014-09-14T04:42:28.200Z · score: 7 (8 votes)
Superintelligence fiction - "Understand", by Ted Chiang 2013-10-07T03:03:20.587Z · score: 11 (16 votes)
A thought on the value of "rationality" as a value 2013-07-30T09:27:14.981Z · score: 1 (10 votes)
Ray Kurzweil joins Google to work on AI (link) 2013-05-05T05:59:21.860Z · score: 2 (9 votes)
Physicists To Test If Universe Is A Computer Simulation (link) 2013-04-17T02:23:23.804Z · score: 4 (11 votes)
The Case against Killer Robots (link) 2012-11-20T07:47:21.526Z · score: 9 (12 votes)
"Measuring the distribution of spitefulness" - link 2012-08-20T07:51:48.358Z · score: 2 (7 votes)
Brain structure - scans reveal an amazingly regular pattern 2012-07-30T08:20:12.220Z · score: 10 (13 votes)
Singularity Institute - mainstream media exposure in Australia 2012-07-20T02:45:00.766Z · score: 5 (8 votes)
An interesting, novel approach to designing computer processors 2012-02-21T02:37:12.193Z · score: 3 (8 votes)
AI Challenge: Ants - Post Mortem 2012-01-12T07:23:08.593Z · score: 11 (12 votes)
Google AI challenge - status? 2011-12-02T02:18:41.971Z · score: 3 (6 votes)
A fascinating simulation of evolution 2011-09-30T01:49:46.678Z · score: 8 (9 votes)
Yet another book on life extension - "100+", author: Sonia Arrison 2011-09-22T07:47:35.376Z · score: 1 (4 votes)

Comments

Comment by d_alex on Infinite Summations: A Rationality Litmus Test · 2017-01-22T09:57:32.023Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

In the "proof" presented, the series 1-1+1... is "shown" to equal to 1/2 by a particular choice of interleaving of the values in the series. But with other methods of interleaving, the sum can be made to "equal" 0, 1 1/3 or indeed AFAICT any rational number between 0 and 1.

So... why is the particular interleaving that gives 1/2 as the answer "correct"?

Comment by d_alex on Crazy Global Warming Solution Ideas · 2015-10-27T03:04:27.970Z · score: -2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

"Powerwall" is just a big battery.

Yes... plus some electronics, like a rectifier, an inverter and control circuitry.

It might help compensate for the irregularities of solar and wind power.

Yes... that's partly what is was conceived to do. It also can compensate for the irregularities in demand.

But it only makes sense to use batteries for that after we have moved to much more renewables.

For storage of solar and wind power, this is a complex matter, and the short answer is "it depends". For demand management, it makes sense now.

It is much more efficient to store the power in the water magazines of existing hydro plants.

It is desirable to use hydro plants (where they exist) as swing producers. Pumped storage is not quite as energy-efficient as battery storage (roughly 75% for pumped vs 85% for Li batteries), though it can be cost-effective, in places where large, elevated reservoirs already exist.

But all this is besides the point, which is: There are proposals to "solve" global warming, which are implementable now, with today's technology, which furthermore have side effects which are on balance positive (like clean air in the cities).

Comment by d_alex on Crazy Global Warming Solution Ideas · 2015-10-26T03:00:24.719Z · score: -5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Do we really need crazy ideas when we have good ideas that just need to be implemented? For example, transitioning to an "electric economy" as proposed in Elon Musk's Powerwall launch:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yKORsrlN-2k

Comment by d_alex on Open Thread August 31 - September 6 · 2015-09-02T02:24:25.225Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Despite his frequent comments that he's "betting" on Trump and that Silver is "betting" against Trump, Adams's position is that gambling is illegal when pressed to actually bet.

How convenient for him.

Comment by d_alex on Open Thread August 31 - September 6 · 2015-09-01T06:37:06.234Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Well... Scott Adams has a lot of money. I am willing to bet that Trump will NOT become president, at EVEN ODDS. Scott, if you read this, how about a wager? I propose a $10,000 stake.

Comment by d_alex on Stupid Questions August 2015 · 2015-08-06T08:04:53.461Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

If you are after descriptions of society in those days, try "Quo Vadis" by Henryk Sienkiewicz. Historical fiction about early days of Christianity, won a Nobel Prize for literature. Strong religious themes.

Comment by d_alex on Stupid Questions August 2015 · 2015-08-06T07:51:58.309Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Or could we breed them for intelligence...? With such short periods between generations, we could reach superintelligence, maybe faster than other methods!

Comment by d_alex on List of Fully General Counterarguments · 2015-07-21T02:44:32.342Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

The Big Lebowski: "Yeah, well, you know, that's just, like, your opinion, man".

Comment by d_alex on Open Thread, Jul. 13 - Jul. 19, 2015 · 2015-07-14T06:14:11.917Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

What are my options apart from "emigrate and live next to a cryonics facility"?

You could start a cryonics facility in South Africa.

Comment by d_alex on Open Thread, Jul. 6 - Jul. 12, 2015 · 2015-07-07T06:57:24.708Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Gets a big loan from Russia that prevents an economic collapse (20% likely)

I'll give 10:1 odds against this happening. Russia has its own economic problems now with the drop in the price of oil and Ukrainian conflict, and other issues... China might be more likely, though IMO both Russia and China are a scare ploy by the Greeks.

A somewhat likely possibility is: Greece leaves the EU, triggering an economic collapse, possibly followed by a political collapse. Then spends many, many years trying to sort out itself and wishing it had stayed.

Comment by d_alex on Open Thread, Jun. 15 - Jun. 21, 2015 · 2015-06-17T02:49:32.674Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

I am sure that there are many jobs where mental math makes a huge difference.

I manage a team of engineers, and though pretty much all of them are head and shoulders above me in their specialisation, they think I really know my stuff because I find errors in their work and zero-in on them on the fly. The skill that I have is doing rough approximations in my head. Then from experience: a factor-of-two difference is commonly confusing kg and lb, a factor of 10 - confusing kg and N, a factor of fifty - mistaking degrees and radians (usually in Excel, where radians are the default mesurement), etc... I get a LOT of mileage from this :). If they did the same, their already good work would be even better. And I imagine any calculation intensive job (finance, economics, science, business...) is similar.

Comment by d_alex on The ganch gamble · 2015-05-19T00:55:28.576Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

"Ganch" was an unknown word for me too, so i googled it and the first link was from Urban Dictionary... I'll not say what I found, it is inappropriate.

But then I searched some more, quite a lot, until I found this definition, from the Great Soviet Encyclopedia:

Ganch: Middle Asian name for a binding material obtained by heating rock containing gypsum (from 40 to 70 percent) and clay. An aqueous solution of pulverized ganch sets quickly (hardens) and is easy to mold. From the first centuries of the Common Era ganch was used as a material for plaster, volumetrical and plastic decor (carving, casting of lattices and other parts), and sculpture. Wet ganch can be cut easily and allows both bas-relief and high relief to be diverse and have fine details. Carved ganch has a pleasing white mat surface. A layer of slightly wet ganch serves as a base for wall paintings. In the Caucasus it is called gazha.

Comment by d_alex on Why capitalism? · 2015-05-10T06:00:38.373Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I still do not understand your objective in this discussion. It seems that you are implicitly against subsidising renewable energy. Is this correct?

(I work in the oil and gas industry, by the way, so fossil fuel subsidies sort of help me out...).

For that matter, I do not understand the upvotes in this thread. A citation was asked for - then it was provided - and then there are several posts attempting to invalidate the citation, attracting upvotes. Strange.

I want a better source than naked statement of a number from a biased group

We all do... could you please provide one?

if you want me to think that renewables ... are a good choice for the US...

I don't know when this discussion started to be about the US, and I don't know if I really care enough about what you think to put in more effort... are you in a position to influence what the US chooses? If yes, then I will explain why this statement:

how switching from a cheaper source [presumably fossil fuels] to one that's more expensive [presumably renewable energy]

is wrong.

Comment by d_alex on California Drought thread · 2015-05-08T02:27:30.063Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Engineering solutions (RO desalination powered by photovoltaics) exist right now to deliver practically limitless amounts of potable water in a sustainable manner for around $1/m3. That is 1 cent per 10 litre bucket.

I am not sure who is feeling the pain in California... $1/m3 may be too much to pay for broadacre farming. But for city residents, who (in Australia) typically use ~300l/person/day, including lawn care, this seems very affordable.

Incidentally: Perth, Australia, used to rely on dams and groundwater to supply its needs. When I visited the dams 10 years ago they looked about what Californian dams look like now. This year, the dams are nearly full, and the annoying ads urging reduced water consumption have disappeared. What has changed? Two RO desalination plants were built, and now roughly half of Perth's fresh water supply comes from these plants. To power the plants, two small-ish wind energy farms have been built. So perhaps this is the right solution for California also...?

Comment by d_alex on Why capitalism? · 2015-05-06T03:32:55.607Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

cool toys and I've been tempted to get one a few times

If you can use a 3D design program like Google Sketchup - do it! It is a cool toy, it is at least of minor practical use, and you might catch a wave to the future.

Saving money on a 50-cent bracket via buying a $1,000 printer doesn't look particularly rational to me

Naturally. But throwing away a $1000 item for the lack of some stupid bracket that should cost 50 cents but can't be had for any money AFAICT is not great either...

Comment by d_alex on Why capitalism? · 2015-05-06T03:22:45.696Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Remember, a lot of renewables get thrown in together without being the same. The renewables that get subsidies are mostly the flashy new ones...

I have provided a few facts... you are trying to put a certain interpretation on them. To what end? What is it exactly that you are trying to argue?

Seriously? 80% of the money spent on anything being non-OECD is hard to fathom...

And now you are denying the data.

What is subsidised and where, is decided by factors that are not necessarily obvious or "sensible", and there is a huge element of political electability. In OECD, fuels are a source of taxation revenue, whereas farmers, for example, benefit from subsidies. In the middle east and South-East Asia, fossil fuel is heavily subsidised, eg. in Indonesia gasoline sold for about 90% of crude oil price while I was there (and Indonesia imports their crude). I read that fully half of government revenue was at one point used to pay for the fuel subsidies. Why? Well, as soon as there is a discussion of reducing the subsidies, protests break out, and the politicians supporting the reductions do not get re-elected....

Comment by d_alex on Why capitalism? · 2015-05-05T02:54:25.122Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I have a 3D printer (Makerbot 2, not really low end, cost ~$2000), so let me correct a couple of misconceptions in this thread:

  1. 3D printed parts can be, and usually are, quite strong. The strength of a part is directional - the parts are much stronger in the direction parallel to the filament deposition than in the perpendicular direction. But door handles and the like are no problem at all. The parts can also be strong and very light, because printing the inside volume as a honeycomb mesh is possible (and is the default option at least on the printer driver I am using)

  2. The labout input in actually making a part is minimal, surely less than a trip to the store to buy one. Currently, the labour-intensive part is finding or producing the right design - but once the design is made, it can in theory be available to anyone in the world to use. "Thingiverse" is an attempt to collate the various designs, unfortunately it is full of sub-mediocre stuff and not sufficiently easy to navigate around.

I have literally hundreds of 3D printed objects around me right now, most are models of industrial plants and boats. But I have also made a few everyday objects that I otherwise would have had trouble getting at all, including:

  • A control knob for my amplifier, the original was lost somewhere
  • A knob for window wiper control for my car
  • The little thing that you pull to open the door in the car
  • A hard-to-explain bracket that holds a milk shelf in my fridge

Now that i have made the models (and it was fun to do, so was there a labour "cost"?), these things above should be available on the 'net for anyone... I feel kinda bad for not doing that, but the problem is this: How do I identify say the fridge bracket, so that people can find it? OK, its a Fisher and Paykel 350 l fridge, model ABC-1234 or w/e, but then...? Now if the fridge maker provided the design on their web site, we'd be getting somewhere, and if 3D printers have sufficient penetration, perhaps they will one day.

Comment by d_alex on Why capitalism? · 2015-05-05T02:26:57.538Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

But renewables are vastly smaller than fossil fuels

Not really. From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renewable_energy :

"Based on REN21's 2014 report, renewables contributed 19 percent to our energy consumption and 22 percent to our electricity generation in 2012 and 2013, respectively"

So if you believe Wikipedia (and is there a better general source?), fossil fuels attract more subsidies per unit energy as well as in total.

Comment by d_alex on Stupid Questions May 2015 · 2015-05-04T07:55:47.016Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, there is.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lithium#Terrestrial gives reserves of 13 million tonnes, ie 13 billion kg. I think these are "proven" reserves, ie economical to mine at current prices.

The amount of lithium in a Li-ion battery is not that much, roughly 500g/kwhr. So a 10 kW Tesla Power Wall would contain about 5 kg of lithium. We can make 2.6 billion Power Walls... and E. Musk said at the launch that 2 billion would be enough to convert the entire planet's energy usage - including industry and transport - to renewable electricity.

Comment by d_alex on Stupid Questions May 2015 · 2015-05-04T07:21:52.520Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yep... take a look at this, one of the largest solar PV plants in the world:

https://www.google.com/maps/search/35.383333,-120.066667/@35.383333,-120.066667,12z/data=!3m1!1e3!4m2!2m1!4b1?hl=en&dg=dbrw&newdg=1

It supplies but ~1% of electric power for Los Angeles... However zoom until you can see Los Angeles itself, a little to the southeast.

Comment by d_alex on Stupid Questions May 2015 · 2015-05-04T07:08:08.084Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Apart from what g_pepper has correctly pointed out regarding size/power of hydro plants...

If we build a lake at the top, 10 meters deep and 1 kilometer on a side

With the right terrain, this is pretty trivial, all you need is a relatively small dam wall closing off a small ravine between mountains... here is a nice example:

http://www.iwb.ch/media/de/picdb/2012/366/nant_de_drance_stausee_vieux.jpg

http://www.iwb.ch/media/de/picdb/2012/367/nant_de_drance_stauseen_vieu.jpg

Comment by d_alex on Why capitalism? · 2015-05-04T06:50:40.510Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Citation please.

"Fossil fuel subsidies reached $90 billion in the OECD and over $500 billion globally in 2011.[1] Renewable energy subsidies reached $88 billion in 2011.[2] "

from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_subsidies

(This is without even considering that fossil fuel usage imposes external costs such as pollution, that the fossil fuel user does not pay. Some have argued that this amounts to an effective subsidy of the order of a trillion dollars per year).

Comment by d_alex on Rationality Quotes Thread March 2015 · 2015-03-23T06:33:40.227Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

If we need to look to economics for rationality quotes, we are getting towards the bottom of the barrel, Robin Hanson notwithstanding.

Comment by d_alex on Rationality Quotes December 2014 · 2014-12-12T02:41:29.053Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The less you care about "the respect" others show towards you, the less power idiots can exert over you.

I don't think this is generally true. Do you mean:

"The less you care about "the respect" idiots show towards you, the less power idiots can exert over you."??

Comment by d_alex on Rationality Quotes December 2014 · 2014-12-12T02:37:56.925Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I am having trouble understanding the message here... and consequently how this is a good rationality quote.

Is this trying to say "don't bother trying to please people in childhood"?

Is it "don't bother trying to earn respect as an adult"?

Both are poor advice, in general, IMO.

Comment by d_alex on A hypothetical question for investors · 2014-12-11T09:03:06.722Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The problem is underspecified in a more fundamental way: It does not tell you what to optimise!

One needs to specify both the parameter (eg. expected value) and the time (eg. after 1000 days).

Comment by d_alex on The cryopreservation of bad people · 2014-12-03T06:57:41.677Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Stalin was almost universally loved and worshipped among the not-yet-jailed population

This is plain not true, the level of his popular support (not "love and worship") is disputed, but at the "more than half" vs "less than half" level.

But I kind of agree with your conclusion.

Comment by d_alex on A kind or reverse "tragedy of the commons" - any solution ideas? · 2014-09-15T01:49:32.700Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The problem is that the cost of installing say individual hot water meters to each apartment would more than eliminate the upfront savings, and reading the meters and doing the paperwork would eat up the operating cost savings.

Comment by d_alex on A kind or reverse "tragedy of the commons" - any solution ideas? · 2014-09-14T11:17:06.858Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

That's an excellent point! Lets just do some maths:

Water cost here is $2.00/m3

Cost of heating 1000 kg of water 20-->60 deg with gas@ $0.02/MJ: ~4010004*.02/1000 = $3.20 (this is central, individual would be abt double)

So the cost of heating is not far from the cost of water... I think this could work.

Thanks, I will try this and see how it turns out. Might report back in a month or so!

Comment by d_alex on Is it a good idea to use Soylent once/twice a day? · 2014-09-12T09:14:39.847Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

It is a bad idea. Have a delicious meal instead (it really is not hard), preferably in the company of interesting people. Unless of course you do not derive pleasure from delicious meals, or you do not consider pleasure to be of intrinsic value.

Comment by d_alex on How realistic would AI-engineered chatbots be? · 2014-09-12T07:12:54.125Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Do you feel about talking to a realistic AI-engineered chatbot often?

Comment by d_alex on A simple game that has no solution · 2014-07-21T09:02:28.353Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Hmm, is this not the correct solution for two super-rational players:

Player One: Pick C with probability of 2/3 - e; pick B with probability of 1/3 + e, e being some very small but not negligible number. Player Two: Pick Y

Expected payoff for Player One is 4 2/3 -4e; way better than playing A. For B is 2/3 + 2 e, a tiny bit better than playing X - so B will play Y, since he knows that A is totally rational and would have picked this very strategy.

Comment by d_alex on What do rationalists think about the afterlife? · 2014-05-19T07:41:35.433Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

A question with no data is something like: Will the Emperor of Alfa Centauri eat fried lummywaps or boiled sanquemels today?

I get your point, but your example is poor - I think we have more than enough data to answer this question: No, with 99%+ probability.

Comment by d_alex on Engineering archaeology · 2014-03-25T09:27:13.087Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I am certain that someone will point out to me an example of a high-value industrial work that was allowed to fall into decrepitude and neglect

Ok, since no one else has to date, I will. My example is the Longford Gas Plant, one of the largest and most profitable in the world. It processed pretty much the entire gas oitput of Australia's richest oil province, and supplied virtually all the gas and LPG needs of the city of Melbourne. The revenues generated by the plant were several million dollars PER DAY. Still, the American bungee-management decided to save costs by cutting maintenance "'till it hurts".

Then this happened: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Esso_Longford_gas_explosion

I worked at Longford in 1999-2000, on a backlog of modifications and maintenance requests, some dating back to 1979. Documentation decay was well and truly happening. One example that comes to mind is that certain drawings of underground piping, carrying gas and LPG, were lost. Excavations were a bit of a problem...

Comment by d_alex on Stupid Questions Thread - January 2014 · 2014-02-03T05:32:17.121Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

From some WSJ article:

The setting of Einstein's initial salary at Princeton illustrates his humility and attitude toward wealth. According to "Albert Einstein: Creator & Rebel" by Banesh Hoffmann, (1972), the 1932 negotiations went as follows: "[Abraham] Flexner invited [Einstein] to name his own salary. A few days later Einstein wrote to suggest what, in view of his needs and . . . fame, he thought was a reasonable figure. Flexner was dismayed. . . . He could not possibly recruit outstanding American scholars at such a salary. . . . To Flexner, though perhaps not to Einstein, it was unthinkable [that other scholars' salaries would exceed Einstein's.] This being explained, Einstein reluctantly consented to a much higher figure, and he left the detailed negotiations to his wife."

The reasonable figure that Einstein suggested was the modest sum of $3,000 [about $46,800 in today's dollars]. Flexner upped it to $10,000 and offered Einstein an annual pension of $7,500, which he refused as "too generous," so it was reduced to $6,000. When the Institute hired a mathematician at an annual salary of $15,000, with an annual pension of $8,000, Einstein's compensation was increased to those amounts.

Comment by d_alex on [LINK] On what ship are we? · 2014-01-02T03:03:38.495Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

What ship are we on, dude?

Comment by d_alex on [LINK] On what ship are we? · 2014-01-02T03:02:47.006Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

That's not what happened on the Titanic.

I don't think the article is saying that... what they are saying is that the way WW1 happened was akin to someone saying "Ram the iceberg..." etc, i.e. for clearly stupid reasons.

Comment by d_alex on Is it immoral to have children? · 2013-10-23T07:32:08.671Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Maybe...

a) having and raising well-educated and well-brought-up kids is expensive, but in the end it is a fantastic investment (and from my own experience, makes one happy) b) having and raising kids who will require charity to survive is cheap, and also immoral

Unfortunately, giving to famine relief promotes b).

Comment by d_alex on [LINK] A Turing test for free will · 2013-10-15T03:46:10.723Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

If ... ... then you are likely to believe you have free will.

Well, that is a bit underwhelming, eh? A self-administered test that tells you what you are likely to believe?

Comment by d_alex on On the importance of taking limits: Infinite Spheres of Utility · 2013-10-15T03:36:09.529Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'd prefer to see this in Main, it is interesting and important.

Comment by d_alex on Systematic Lucky Breaks · 2013-10-10T08:22:42.640Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I don't know enough about martial arts to tell you which one is best.

I'll give you my perspective, I have experience in judo, ju-jitsu and tae kwon do.

My evaluation criteria in order of importance:

•Low risk of serious injuries

Judo is best, ju-jitsu by far the worst.

•It includes fights, that trigger evolutionary fears and allow you to overcome them as a form of exposure therapy

Judo is best, it is the only one where you can actually exert yourself to the limit without risk of injuring your partner.

•It increases your ability to coordinate your own body.

All are good.

•It's useful for actually defending yourself

Ju-jitsu is the best, but anything is much better than nothing.

•It's sport for cardiovascular purposes

None are brilliant, play soccer instead.

•It builds muscles

None are brilliant, but judo is best.

There is one other criterion, in which tkd excells - it is the only one of the three which you can seriously usefully practice on your own.

Comment by d_alex on Open Thread, September 30 - October 6, 2013 · 2013-10-09T10:16:00.523Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Hmm. What is the exact length of your, say, pen? Is it a rational number or a real number... I mean the EXACT lengh...?

Note if the answer to the last question is "it is a real number", then it is possible to construct the bet as proposed by the OP.

Before you quote "Planck's Length" in your reply, there is currently no directly proven physical significance of the Planck length (at least according to Wikipedia).

Comment by d_alex on Open thread, September 16-22, 2013 · 2013-09-23T03:59:39.954Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Dolphin trainer. Also fun for people without strong technical skills.

Comment by d_alex on The Ultimate Newcomb's Problem · 2013-09-23T02:17:01.698Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Numerical Lottery has randomly selected 1033...

... if you try to factor the number you will be run over by the trolley from the Ultimate Trolley Problem.

This game seems to have a roughly 50% chance of a fatality.

Comment by d_alex on I attempted the AI Box Experiment again! (And won - Twice!) · 2013-09-09T09:36:13.481Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

My theory is that you are embarrassed about how weak the AI argument really is, in retrospect.

And furthermore, this applies to other games where participants refused to publish logs.

Comment by d_alex on Yet more "stupid" questions · 2013-09-04T02:32:05.870Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I recommend pretty much anything by Jack Vance. If you like fantasy settings, read "Lyonesse", "Cugel's Saga" and "Rhialto the Marvellous". If you like sci-fi settings, try "Araminta Station" , "Night Lamp" and "Alastor". For a quaint mix of the two, try "Emphyrio" or "Languages of Pao". Vance wrote a bunch of great stuff, so if you like his first book, you have heaps more to look forward to.

Also "Name of the Wind" and "Wise Man's Fear" by Patrick Rothfuss are pretty good.

I also second "Ender's Game".

Comment by d_alex on What should a college student do to maximize future earnings for effective altruism? · 2013-08-29T06:47:10.521Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I was going to answer "Say you found a cure for cancer while working for pharmaceutical company...", but lets consider something more mundane.

Say you are an engineer working for Unilever. With 3 months of diligent work, you design a shampoo bottle that costs 1 cent less to manufacture, maybe through reduced material usage. There are billions of these bottles made each year, giving a saving to humanity of tens of millions of dollars each year. Compared with savings of this magnitude, your actual salary will be insignificant.

Comment by d_alex on What should a college student do to maximize future earnings for effective altruism? · 2013-08-28T06:17:41.937Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

IMO, if you really care about us fellow humans do this: Generate utility wholesale, in bulk. Not in bite size chunks. Your actual earnings most likely will not be of any great significance. What you should aim for is to generate great ideas, products, social/political outcomes, rather than a high salary.

CS is a great option for this, provided you use it to deliver better communications, GPS, automation, etc, maybe even AI. If you go on to do crapola iPhone apps and banner ads, not so much.

Scientific research, engineering R&D and the like are also great options, plus these fields are, IMO, exceptionally interesting.

Conversely, GP medicine, dentistry, accounting for example do not scale well in terms of total utility produced, even though salaries can be quite high. Arts and legal occupations have potential, but overall end up barely worthwhile (my opinion!).

Comment by d_alex on Rationality Quotes August 2013 · 2013-08-09T01:59:29.677Z · score: 8 (10 votes) · LW · GW

It explains lutefisk.

Quote from Garrison Keillor's book Lake Wobegon Days: Every Advent we entered the purgatory of lutefisk, a repulsive gelatinous fishlike dish that tasted of soap and gave off an odor that would gag a goat. We did this in honor of Norwegian ancestors, much as if survivors of a famine might celebrate their deliverance by feasting on elm bark. I always felt the cold creeps as Advent approached, knowing that this dread delicacy would be put before me and I'd be told, "Just have a little." Eating a little was like vomiting a little, just as bad as a lot.

Quote from Garrison Keillor's book Pontoon: Lutefisk is cod that has been dried in a lye solution. It looks like the desiccated cadavers of squirrels run over by trucks, but after it is soaked and reconstituted and the lye is washed out and it's cooked, it looks more fish-related, though with lutefisk, the window of success is small. It can be tasty, but the statistics aren't on your side. It is the hereditary delicacy of Swedes and Norwegians who serve it around the holidays, in memory of their ancestors, who ate it because they were poor. Most lutefisk is not edible by normal people. It is reminiscent of the afterbirth of a dog or the world's largest chunk of phlegm.

Interview with Jeffrey Steingarten, author of The Man Who Ate Everything (translated quote from a 1999 article in Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet): Lutefisk is not food, it is a weapon of mass destruction. It is currently the only exception for the man who ate everything. Otherwise, I am fairly liberal, I gladly eat worms and insects, but I draw the line on lutefisk.

  • the above is from Wikipedia entry on lutefisk. Believe it or not.
Comment by d_alex on A thought on the value of "rationality" as a value · 2013-08-01T07:05:04.142Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The [very, very good ] thing is when you habitually recognize the most common forms of human irrationality, and easily steer away from them.... ... ...it doesn't require any real effort, in the moment.

I agree! But you will encounter situations, pretty often at first and ever more rarely as you get experience in recognising irrationality, where your willpower will be tested. And then it is easier to expend the needed effort if you feel good about the process you are going through.