Posts

Money isn't real. When you donate money to a charity, how does it actually help? 2020-02-02T17:03:04.426Z · score: 19 (11 votes)
Dagon's Shortform 2019-07-31T18:21:43.072Z · score: 3 (1 votes)
Did the recent blackmail discussion change your beliefs? 2019-03-24T16:06:52.811Z · score: 37 (14 votes)

Comments

Comment by dagon on Solipsism is Underrated · 2020-03-28T20:30:37.214Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Note that if someone assigns probabilities to these models, and conditional outcomes based on what they say publically, materialism is far more beneficial to express than solipsism, even if one finds solipsism more likely.

In the case where materialism and some form of causality is true, then you have some impact by publicly supporting it and pushing other people toward it. If instead, solipsism is true, and you push these hallucinations you call "other people" toward it, you get no benefit.

Much like other questions of free will and causality, as long as I assign some chance that it's real and I have choices that matter, I should behave as if that's certain. Even if I privately am not convinced, there's no benefit to acting that way.

Comment by dagon on Price Gouging and Speculative Costs · 2020-03-27T21:19:35.681Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Stockpiling over time, long in advance of a crisis is great (but might be tough to find those investors).
Supply has time to adjust and you are not hurting anyone.

Stockpiling in a burst just before a rush, when it's too late for suppliers to adjust production, is much less clear. You're accelerating or in some cases creating the shortage, and you're not changing the short-term supply at all.

Comment by dagon on Price Gouging and Speculative Costs · 2020-03-27T15:53:19.367Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW
you're not already a manufacturer

Sure, it's common for a reseller to bundle support, installation services, or warranty with items, in order to justify very large markups. The discount methods work too. A packaging or product change is closer to the manufacturer case - you have to deal with time/cost/capital tradeoffs to change your production rate or inventory size.

As a pure speculator, you're starting off in a worse spot, because you're dependent on the manufacturer(s) for supply, and you'll start with slimmer profit margins, which makes your risk much higher if the shortage doesn't occur as severely as you expected, or if manufacturers can ramp up faster than you predicted.

You're also in a morally worse spot - you run the risk that you are creating or amplifying the shortage, not just predicting and smoothing the consumption of rapidly-value-changing products, and not actually increasing supply with the increasing price. If you aren't solving the problem given in the post (you could make more, but not at your normal prices), you're not as clearly on the side of good.

Keep in mind that simple models are pretty misleading. There are almost NO manufacturers who aren't also middlemen for parts of their equipment. They don't dig up and smelt their own ore, they buy everything (often significant manufactured subcomponents) from other manufacturers. There are few distributors who aren't adding real value with some amount of warranty/returnability, and delivery or quantity options that the manufacturer doesn't support. These things really blur the line between producer and middleman.

Comment by dagon on Price Gouging and Speculative Costs · 2020-03-26T18:14:07.994Z · score: 16 (7 votes) · LW · GW

The fundamental problem that businesses solve is that marginal cost is different from average cost (usually lower, in this case higher). One standard way to address it is price discrimination - find a way to get more willing customers to pay more, by bundling, by slight variation in quality for larger variation in price, or by other things that matter more to customers than to costs.

The obvious business advice for such a manufacturer would be to introduce a new line of premium ventilators, which are mostly the same, but have copper touch surfaces or something. Do this long before any hint of specific emergency - this is normal business practice. Price them at $100K normally, and you probably won't sell many. Start ramping these up when you predict a surge, and these will be the ones you sell when you're out of stock of the cheaper ones.

Oh, don't forget discount policies - you should normally have a list price of $90K, and discount that to various levels based on negotiated delivery and volume commitment. You don't have to offer discounts for last-minute purchases that weren't contracted 6 months ago.

(all of these fall under the heading of "allow price gouging". That's the right answer for production-side incentives. It's the WRONG answer for speculators who amplify the shortage by taking away from normal supply, rather than providing new supply. And it's deucedly hard to tell the difference from outside, so governments tend to just outlaw the whole idea.

Comment by dagon on 3 Interview-like Algorithm Questions for Programmers · 2020-03-26T14:31:14.169Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think the trick you're going for (and I agree with others that these are mostly tricks - fun for conversation, interesting puzzles among friends, but fairly poor for interviews) requires a further restriction than an arbitrary array of Java primitive ints.

This is too close to an answer, so I'll further obscure it. I used rot-221 for extra secrecy!

V guvax gurl arrq gb or pbagvthbhf, fhpu gung gur enatr vf gur fnzr nf gur neenl fvmr. Gurer vf ab fbeg orggre guna B(AybtA) gung arrqf gb pbzcner ryrzragf gb rnpu bgure.

Comment by dagon on Matt Goldenberg's Short Form Feed · 2020-03-25T18:56:20.861Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Wait, you received evidence that didn't just refute your hypothesis, it reversed it. If you accept that, shouldn't you also reverse your proposed remedy? Shouldn't you now argue _IN FAVOR_ of shutting down more completely - it saves lives both directly by limiting the spread of the virus AND indirectly by slowing the economy.

(note: this is intended to be semi-humorous - my base position is that the economic causes and effects are far too complex and distributed to really predict impact on that level, or to predict what policies might improve what outcomes).

Comment by dagon on Should I buy a gun for home defense in response to COVID-19? · 2020-03-25T17:59:11.789Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think there are good general solutions to this question - it's going to vary a lot based on the situation, participants, capabilities, and what they (think they) know of each other. If you want to go deep in your spare time, start with Von Neumann and Nash, work up to Schelling (it's important to go that far, as you'll need to include partial-knowledge and precommittment in your thinking). That's fun reading regardless :)

A mixed strategy of sometimes shooting first, sometimes threatening, sometimes complying, sometimes just not reacting and pretending you're asleep is probably where you'll end up. Usually making yourself a worse target (in terms of risk/reward to your opponent) before the confrontation even starts is going to be right, but it's non-obvious exactly what makes you worse - a sign that says "I'm armed" means "I have valuable guns to steal, and shoot me first so I can't shoot you". Solid doors and barred windows are good options to stop the problem before it starts.

In many locales, escalating "unreasonably" is a crime in itself. Also, you probably don't know whether the looter is unarmed (for the same reasons you didn't tell them you were armed), so conditional actions (threaten if unarmed, comply if armed) aren't available to you.

Comment by dagon on Breaking quarantine is negligence. Why are democracies acting like we can only ask nicely? · 2020-03-24T23:43:29.440Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It would possibly be an unconstitutional law, but it is also probably an allowed emergency executive power. Anyone care to wager whether state bans on gatherings will be challenged and struck down? The one I looked most closely at was that the Washington State Governor announced a blanket ban on gatherings of more than 250 people, and called on the National Guard to enforce if necessary. That's a very direct violation of the first amendment right to assemble, and I'd give odds that it'll be upheld. There have been further restrictions and stay-at-home orders, but they're not as clear about violating this right.

Oh, the order specifically prohibits religious gatherings over this size, so it ticks that box too.

Comment by dagon on Can crimes be discussed literally? · 2020-03-24T20:30:56.096Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW
"Everyone knows" is an interesting phrase.

This is key. There's a very weird kind of knowing - somewhere between amnesia and willfully ignoring the problem - when bad data is aggregated into statistics, and those who know that the data is bad decide to rely on the statistics anyway, because it's the best they have.

Comment by dagon on Breaking quarantine is negligence. Why are democracies acting like we can only ask nicely? · 2020-03-24T17:01:58.307Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Upvoted for important topic, but I disagree that there's significant difference in enforcement of any low-probability high-cost risky behavior in US or EU (direct experience in US and UK, close friends in some EU countries, less knowledge of Asia).

DUI is a good example - it's illegal everywhere, and the legal standards have been tightening over the last few decades, but it's still pretty rarely enforced, and I know a fair number of people who mildly violate it somewhat routinely, with no consequences (yet). Failure to vaccinate children is another example of clear negligence, with no prosecution. In a lot of countries, tobacco smoke remains fairly prevalent, in violation of laws trying to protect non-smokers.

On the other side of the coin, a number of US states have declared enforcement of quarantine - you can quibble that it took longer than some other places - that's true, but irrelevant to sociological issues of negligence-enforcement. I don't know the arrest/ticketing rate, and suspect it's very low.

Comment by dagon on Should I buy a gun for home defense in response to COVID-19? · 2020-03-24T16:44:06.867Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · LW · GW

There is an inherent asymmetry, unrelated to weapon availability, between people asking this question and the potential assailants we're worried about. That is about psychological preparation and willingness to use lethal force. And a very assymetrical situational awareness - the attacker knows exactly what's going on and is ready to meet you, the defender is confused and unsure.

These important differences mean you really need different tools and options for defense than for assault. This isn't a showdown with two gunslingers equally prepared to shoot. This is an ambiguous, terrifying, sudden decision with an unknown but VERY short timeframe for success. Non-lethal defenses are FAR more powerful, in the case where you're sleepy, confused, unsure of your target, or just not convinced you want to kill someone, because you can actually pull the trigger in time.

And, of course, "why not both?" is a FINE question. If you're prepared for the responsibility of having a gun around, and you're willing to drill quite a bit so the option value is greater than the solution-search cost of having to decide on the fly, that's great.

Comment by dagon on What is the point of College? Specifically is it worth investing time to gain knowledge? · 2020-03-23T23:36:32.956Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

A few thoughts, none of which are actually answers:

a) Knowledge and forgetting is tricky. There's a very good chance that even most of what you've forgotten is still there, and you'll learn it again much more quickly should you ever need it at a later time. Your class didn't give you knowledge, but it gave you the way to (re)acquire that knowledge when you need it.

b) Both the value of knowledge and the ability to use it is highly variable. the way it worked for me could be completely different than the way it will work for you. College is great for some subset, suboptimal but still positive for others, and negative for still others.

c) (perhaps most important) there's a pretty strong argument that knowledge isn't the primary value of college. The people you meet and/or the credentials you gain could well be the more important things, with (temporary) knowledge as a gateway to both - good (temporary) learning leads to hanging with smarter people and with better grades/degrees.

d) when asking "is it worth it", you must always include "compared to what"? What's your next best activity? Can you get a good engineering-related job without a degree? If so, maybe that IS better for you.

Comment by dagon on Vanessa Kosoy's Shortform · 2020-03-23T17:22:39.317Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Bayeseans are allowed to understand that there are agents with better estimates than they have. And that being offered a bet _IS_ evidence that the other agent THINKS they have an advantage.

Randomization (aka "mixed strategy") is well-understood as the rational move in games where opponents are predicting your choices. I have read nothing that would even hint that it's unavailable to Bayesean agents. The relevant probability (updated per Bayes's Rule) would be "is my counterpart trying to minimize my payout based on my choices".

edit: I realize you may be using a different definition of "bayeseanism" than I am. I'm thinking humans striving for rational choices, which perforce includes the knowledge of incomplete computation and imperfect knowledge. Naive agents can be imagined that don't have this complexity. Those guys are stuck, and Omega's gonna pwn them.

Comment by dagon on Should I buy a gun for home defense in response to COVID-19? · 2020-03-23T16:10:38.250Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

1) Less so than pistols, but still yes. As Jimmy points out, at least some of the training requirement is psychological - running enough rounds through the gun under simulated conditions that your muscle memory allows actual aiming under insane amounts of stress. Long arms (shotguns and rifles) do require a bit less skill at aiming, and are somewhat harder to shoot yourself with. But still a very high chance to miss and destroy something behind or near your target rather than your target itself.

2) Pepper spray. Air horn or noisemaker (unless it's sci-fi levels of anarchy, in which case none of this advice applies - you're dead anyway). Solid door locks and barred windows.

3) For what purpose? If you're in active combat with lots of bullets flying, and you have time to prepare, you probably want body armor. But that's not a likely scenario outside of military or movies.

Comment by dagon on Should I buy a gun for home defense in response to COVID-19? · 2020-03-23T15:59:19.910Z · score: 7 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Heh, just had this conversation with a close friend of mine. I strongly recommended no guns, but maybe pepper spray. I recommend the same to you.

I used to be fairly into this, did a lot of training and competitive shooting, and some amount of bird hunting. I do have guns in my house, but not accessible - they're in a locked safe, unloaded, with individual trigger locks. It would have to get a lot worse before I wanted one at the ready - a combination of knowing that it's more likely to hurt someone I love than to stop a crime, and not wanting to kill anyone, even a criminal.

If you're seriously concerned, get a few decent-quality pepper spray canisters. These are somewhat less effective than guns in some kinds of confrontation, but more effective in others (because you can use it without full confidence in your target and what's behind them), and WAY less likely to kill a neighbor or family member. Get enough that you can waste 2 on practice and familiarization. Go hose down a tree and practice the take-out, un-lock, point-right-direction, spray-entire-upper-body movements.

Comment by dagon on Against Dog Ownership · 2020-03-23T14:30:00.861Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Interesting. Does this imply you've solved the comparison-with-nonexistence problem? Presuming dog populations are pretty much defined by human behavior, keeping a dog is a net dog-life additional to not-keeping one. That dog's life is less ideal than one on a farm, but that's not the comparison you're making. Is it less ideal than not existing at all?

[ n.b. I have two cats, no dogs, though I have a number of friends with dogs. The animals in question live much easier and less interesting lives than their evolutionary environment, and do not seem unhappy (though, yes, often bored or annoyed). Note also that this describes me pretty well too. ]

Comment by dagon on Can crimes be discussed literally? · 2020-03-22T23:50:49.620Z · score: 11 (6 votes) · LW · GW

The answer to your title question is pretty clearly "no". "Crime" is itself an ambiguous word, and will be motte-and-baileyed (unintentionally in many cases) among "violates a law as written", "causes serious societal harm", and "is commonly prosecuted as a crime".

This isn't (just) a problem with language - confusing words can be mitigated by using more words (sometimes a lot more). It's a problem with simultaneous divergent motives for communication. People WANT multiple things from that reporting: they want liability protection, they want personal deniability, they want actual measurement, they want punishment for defectors, and they want to save time on things they don't find valuable. There's no language or wording fix for that.

Comment by dagon on SARS-CoV-2 pool-testing algorithm puzzle · 2020-03-20T16:45:36.240Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Interesting idea, which I hope the testing centers are using (but hadn't heard it, so maybe not!). The prior is very important. Initially, the likelihood of positive for each sample, but correlation can help to find optimal groupings. Which gives us a probability of positive for any arbitrary group. Bayes can tell us how to update the individual probabilities when a group tests positive.

I haven't written the simulator, but my expectation is that if most of the samples have significant likelihood of positive, you don't gain much by grouping - if you test binary search, you'll waste more in the groupings than you gain in skipping individual tests when a group is negative. If positives are unlikely, you should be able to group such that you can maximize information by grouping such that there's 50% to be negative for the group. Eliminate all the negatives at once, and regroup based on new probabilities (posterior of this test, prior for next) to repeat.

Eventually, you get down to individuals with 50% likelihood, and you kind of have to test each. Or declare that you treat 50% (or 30% or some other likeihood) "good enough to treat", and skip the tests that won't affect treatment.

Comment by dagon on romeostevensit's Shortform · 2020-03-20T14:51:28.360Z · score: 5 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'd expand the "duplicating effort" into "not knowing the risk nor reward of any specific action. I think most agree that duplicate help efforts are better than duplicate Netflix show watches. But what to actually do instead is a mystery for many of us.

A whole lot of nerds are looking for ways to massively help, with a fairly small effort/risk for themselves. That probably doesn't exist. You're not the hero in a book, your contribution isn't going to fix this (exceptions abound - if you have an expertise or path to helping, obviously continue to do that! This is for those who don't know how to or are afraid to help).

But there are lots of small ways to help - have you put your contact info on neighbor's doors, offering to do low-contact maintenance or assistance with chores? Offering help setting up video conferencing with their relatives/friends? Sharing grocery trips so only some of you have to go out every week?

Check in with local food charities - some need drivers for donation pick-ups, all need money (as always, but more so), and others have need for specific volunteer skills - give 'em a call and ask. Hospitals and emergency services are overwhelmed or on the verge of, and have enough attention that they don't currently need volunteers, so leave them alone. But there are lots of important non-obvious services that do need your help.

And, of course, not making it worse is helping in itself.

Comment by dagon on Mati_Roy's Shortform · 2020-03-20T04:15:31.410Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Hmm, those examples seem to be just "trade". Agreeing to do something dispreferred, in exchange for someone else doing something they disprefer and you prefer, when all things under consideration are permitted and optional under the relevant moral strictures.

I aimed for non-"political" examples, which ended up sounding ridiculous.

I wonder if that implies that politics is one of the main areas where the concept applies.

Comment by dagon on Mati_Roy's Shortform · 2020-03-18T00:14:30.027Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

It's worth being clear what you mean by "trade" in these cases. Does "moral trade" mean "compromising one part of your moral beliefs in order to support another part"? or "negotiate with immoral agents to maximize overall moral value" or just "recognize that morals are preferences and all trade is moral trade"?

I think I agree that "trade" is the wrong metaphor for models and priors. There is sharing, and two-way sharing is often called "exchange", but that's misleading. For resources, "trade" implies loss of something and gain of something else, where the utility of the things to each party differ in a way that both are better off. For private epistemology (not in the public sphere where what you say may differ from what you believe), there's nothing you give up or trade away for new updates.

Comment by dagon on And was it for rational, object-level reasons? · 2020-03-17T15:20:15.794Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Note that actual reasons aren't available for inspection. The public justification is whatever will appeal to the constituency, the semi-private (among aides and strategists) will be more nuanced, but still spun and workshopped.

There is no X you should take seriously on the object level. X's policies, group-coordination ability, and predicted behaviors should be evaluated independent of X.

Comment by dagon on Could you save lives in your community by buying oxygen concentrators from Alibaba? · 2020-03-16T16:16:19.717Z · score: -4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Is "counterfactual" the right word for this? I might recommend "potential" or "future" (or just leave out the modifier: "can we save lives")? Also, this seems like something that an individual can unilaterally do, so "can I save lives" or "can you save lives" might be a clearer question.

That reformulation would make the next steps on answering clear: figure out the intermediate things that would lead to life-saving, an if they exist and have fairly low risk, then your answer is probably yes.

How would you know when to use it, on whom? How would you know when to stop using it and get to a real ICU? How would you know what maintenance/cleaning is required?

Comment by dagon on Optimization Process's Shortform · 2020-03-16T02:53:28.092Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Small amounts and near-even-money ($90 for $100) are bad intuition pumps - this is in the range where other considerations dominate the outcome estimates. In fact, you probably can't find many people to accept only 11% for a one-year unsecured loan.

Comment by dagon on Optimization Process's Shortform · 2020-03-15T15:25:54.029Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Clearly not all - the extreme version of this is betting on human extinction. It's hard to imagine the payout that has any value after that comes to pass. In some, you can find the conditional wagers that work, in some you can find a better resource or measurement to wager (one gram of gold, or one day's average wage as reported by X government). In many, though, there just is no wager possible, as the utility of the parties diverges too much from the resources available to account for in the wager.

Comment by dagon on Rationalists, Post-Rationalists, And Rationalist-Adjacents · 2020-03-13T22:20:44.117Z · score: 2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I'm always a bit suspicious of identity or membership labels for humans. There are always overlap, change-over-time, and boundary cases that tend to make me throw up my hands and say "ok, be whatever you want!"

In this post, I'm confused by the phrase "in the sense of this particular community" for a description that does not mention community. The definition seems to be closer to "rationality-seeker" as a personal belief and behavior description than "rationalist" as a member or group actor.

Comment by dagon on Why don't singularitarians bet on the creation of AGI by buying stocks? · 2020-03-12T20:50:09.846Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW
If you believe in the singularity, why aren't you betting on it?

I gave some reasons that it's hard to bet on it, but I also want to point out that your premise is false. A whole lot of us _DO_ invest in various ways that differ from a total market index. I hold a number of stocks, and I'm using this opportunity to increase my stakes in many. I also have some non-stock investments which will outperform based on my model of the future (and the differential of that model from "common wisdom").

Comment by dagon on Why don't singularitarians bet on the creation of AGI by buying stocks? · 2020-03-11T17:32:46.878Z · score: 7 (5 votes) · LW · GW

There are different "shapes" of AGI success. Some of them will benefit current leading companies which you can buy today. Some of them will create new companies that get most of the gains, costing you if you're long on the current leaders. Some of them (cf. definition of "singularity") change so many things about the world that your current paper/electronic "investments" just cease to have meaning.

Comment by dagon on Simulacra and Subjectivity · 2020-03-11T16:23:11.388Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Hmm. I still suspect I'm more fluid than is implied in these models. I think I'm mostly a mix of cluster thinking (I recognize multiple conflicting models, and shift my weights between them for private beliefs, while using a different set of weights for public beliefs (because shifting others' beliefs is relative to my model of their current position, not absolute prediction levels - Aumann doesn't apply to humans)), and I do recognize that I will experience only one future, which I call "objective", and that's pretty much rational-postmodernist level 1. I watch for #2, but I'm sure I'm sometimes susceptible (stupid biological computing substrate!).

Comment by dagon on Vulnerabilities in CDT and TI-unaware agents · 2020-03-10T16:59:36.330Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I like this line of thinking - the impact of awareness of future changes in utility function is under-studied. I do wish we'd stop bothering with the strawman of naive-CDT, it's distracting and wasteful to dismiss this thing that nobody is seriously arguing for.

It's probably time we start to get more formal about what a reward is - are we modeling it as point-in-time desirability of the state of the universe (I hope), or as an average over time or cumulative value over time (more complicates, and probably unnecessary)?

And that leads to a modeling question of what to optimize when you think a reachable universe state will have positive utility for some time an negative utility for some time. Expected inconsistency really breaks a whole lot of foundational assumptions of decision theory.

Comment by dagon on The Heckler's Veto Is Also Subject to the Unilateralist's Curse · 2020-03-09T20:27:55.884Z · score: 9 (2 votes) · LW · GW

There's a bit of difference between action and veto depending on substitutability of alternatives. If a UN member vetos something, a separate coalition (or single member) can often take the action without sanction (and can veto censure), so the UN is less effective, but not actually blocking of the action.

Other kinds of acts are fully prevented by a veto.

This is relevant to friendly AI thinking, in the tradeoff of power and safety in an untrusted agent.

Comment by dagon on Simulacra and Subjectivity · 2020-03-09T20:19:45.462Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Another way of exploring my confusion: can you give an example where this model was more predictive or made better recommendations than a simpler "public communication is an idiosyncratic mix of correct beliefs, incorrect beliefs, intentional signaling and unintentional signaling" explanation?

Comment by dagon on romeostevensit's Shortform · 2020-03-09T19:44:22.597Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This would very much confuse things. Predictions resolve based on observed, measurable events. Models never do. You now have conflicting motives: you want to bet on things that move the market toward your prediction, but you want to trick others into models that give you betting opportunities.

Comment by dagon on Simulacra and Subjectivity · 2020-03-06T22:21:22.113Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I think I'm still confused, or maybe stuck at a low (or maybe high! unsure how to use this...) level. I do my best for my private maps and models to be predictive of future experiences. I have no expectation that I can communicate these private beliefs very well to most of humanity. I am quite willing to understand other individuals' and groups' statements of belief as a mix of signaling, social cohesion, manipulation, and true beliefs. I participate in communication acts for all of these purposes as well.

Does this mean I'm simultaneously at different levels for different purposes?

Comment by dagon on How did the Coronavirus Justified Practical Advice Thread Change Your Behavior, if at All? · 2020-03-06T20:12:12.001Z · score: 8 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Based on a number of inputs, including that thread, but with unclear causality levels:

  • bought a pulse oximeter and better thermometer.
  • bought copper tape, covered back of phone and two doorknobs of my house.
  • wash my hands more often and more thoroughly than previously.

Already doing or based on other things (company policy, county recommendation):

  • stopped taking train to work about a week ago.
  • working from home starting today.
  • canceled two business trips, one international.
  • Already keep two weeks food and medication (intended to increase, but failed).
  • Take vitamin D - I live in Seattle and don't see the sun regardless.

Questionable decisions where advice perhaps should have changed my mind:

  • I'm flying to Arizona to visit my elderly parents this weekend.
  • I'm still eating a fair bit of food prepared by strangers who may not quarantine themselves soon enough - in restaurants and by delivery.
Comment by dagon on A critical agential account of free will, causation, and physics · 2020-03-06T19:24:14.513Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

(minor point - most of the text remains valid)

This contradicts naive determinism: the idea that one's action is necessarily determined by some known, computable function.

Wait. This only contradicts strawman-naive determinism. Regular naive determinism that one's action is determined by some computable function, which need not be known. And "computable" is pretty lenient for this view - it still counts if the universe itself is the only engine which can hold the computation, which it performs in real-time.

Naive determinism ABSOLUTELY includes both being wrong and lying about your expected future actions.

Comment by dagon on Simulacra and Subjectivity · 2020-03-06T04:21:04.027Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

But really, how does this framework work when the level-1 beliefs are false? One example is a church-heavy township where everyone does actually believe their god is real (level 1, private and public beliefs match) and over time people start to question, but not publicly (level 2), then start to find reasons that religion was a useful cohesive belief, without actually believing it (level 3?).

Is there a framework for staying in level 1, but being less wrong, or including other's beliefs in your level-1 model without getting stuck in higher levels where you forget that there IS a truth?

Comment by dagon on Simulacra and Subjectivity · 2020-03-06T01:53:54.093Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Wait, really? That's totally now how I read it. I thought the simulacra levels were divergence between public and private beliefs. People start realizing that the 'shared map' is chosen for reasons other than correspondence with territory, and begin to explicitly model the map-sharing processes separate from map-validating ones.

Comment by dagon on Simulacra and Subjectivity · 2020-03-05T18:15:44.867Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

A topic that came up last time and I didn't see a great answer for: where does truth fit in here? Does the idea of rent-paying beliefs have any intersection with this framework?

Comment by dagon on How many people in the Bay Area are infected with Covid-19 as of the end of 2/29/2020? · 2020-03-04T17:31:38.528Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Do we have a concise time-range-line for progress of infection in an individual? Something like (note: numbers made up, I'm looking for better ones):

  • 0 - contact with source of infection.
  • 2-5 days - virus replicated enough to be contagious
  • 4-6 days - testing would show positive
  • 8-15 days - symptoms begin
  • 12-20 days - recovery or death
  • 15-30 days - no longer contagious

Models come out VERY different depending on the distribution of timings you assign to these points. Specifically, the time from contagion-capable to detection-and-isolation is the difference between hundreds of already-infected and tens of thousands.

Comment by dagon on How should I be thinking about the risk of air travel (re: Coronavirus)? · 2020-03-02T23:04:45.775Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I suspect you won't be able to estimate with small enough error bars to know whether the marginal increase in risk of infection by one plane ride is more or less than the reduction in risk by the more comfortable and (presumably) less metropolitan place in Arizona. My intuition is that if you compare it to any major coastal city, you're better off in AZ, even considering travel risk. Even more so if this is a change from urban to low-density suburban living and you do actually semi-quarantine (only go out rarely, and only at times of low crowds).

IMO, the main problem with flying is the airports, which have a high density of people who've recently been at a large variety of places. If you can arrange to fly to and from regional airports without international flights, that's probably a plus.

All that said, I still rate the overall risk for healthy young to middle-aged US urbanites to be fairly low. I recommend most of your optimization to be on the comfort and short-term-panic-survivability side of things, more than the minimization of exposure to the virus. For that criterion, AZ seems like a clear win for you.

Comment by dagon on Daniel Kokotajlo's Shortform · 2020-03-02T20:57:24.678Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

(oops. I now realize this probably come across wrong). Sorry! I didn't intend to be telling you things, nor did I mean to imply that pointing out more subtle variants of known info-hazards was useless. I really appreciate the topic, and I'm happy to have exactly as much text as we have in exploring non-trivial application of the infohazard concept, and helping identify whether further categorization is helpful (I'm not convinced, but I probably don't have to be).

Comment by dagon on Daniel Kokotajlo's Shortform · 2020-03-02T18:24:26.813Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Interesting. I'd like to explore the distinction between "risk of converging on a dis-preferred social equilibrium" (which I'd frame as "making others aware that this equilibrium is feasible") and other kinds of revealing information which others use to act in ways you don't like. I don't see much difference.

The more obvious cases ("here are plans to a gun that I'm especially vulnerable to") don't get used much unless you have explicit enemies, while the more subtle ones ("I can imagine living in a world where people judge you for scratching your nose with your left hand") require less intentionality of harm directed at you. But it's the same mechanism and info-risk.

Comment by dagon on Daniel Kokotajlo's Shortform · 2020-03-02T17:12:08.177Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not sure I follow the logic. When you say "searching for equilibria", do you mean "internally predicting likelihood of points and durations of an equilibrium (as most of what we worry about aren't stable)? Or do you mean the process of application of forces and observation of counter forces in which the system is "finding it's level"? Or do you mean "discussion about possible equilibria, where that discussion is in fact a force that affects the system"?

Only the third seems to fit your description, and I think that's already covered by standard infohazard writings - the risk that you'll teach others something that can be used against you.

Comment by dagon on Raemon's Scratchpad · 2020-02-28T00:40:58.719Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I don't know of any good way to signal or display that a comment has multiple parents, and thus "merges" two threads. There are a number of boards and discussion systems where a moderator closes a thread (either making it read-only or just deleting unwanted further follow-ups) to keep noise down.

Note that this is a problem in verbal debates as well - there are always sub-points that spawn further sub-points, and even if you notice a merge point, it's hard to remember that you did.

Comment by dagon on Matthew Barnett's Shortform · 2020-02-28T00:36:21.598Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

People clearly DO want to die - $2.2 billion dollars of actual spending (not theoretical "willingness to pay") on alcohol in the US in 2018.

Comment by dagon on Jimrandomh's Shortform · 2020-02-27T20:57:54.057Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

How many passengers were exposed? Capacity of 2670, I haven't seen (and haven't looked that hard) how many actual passengers and crew were aboard when the quarantine started. So maybe over 1/4 of exposed became positive, 6% of that positive become serious, and 10% of that fatal.

Assuming it escapes quarantine and most of us are exposed at some point, that leads to an estimate of 0.0015 (call it 1/6 of 1%) of fatality. Recent annual deaths are 7.7 per 1000, so best guess is this adds 20%, assuming all deaths happen in the first year and any mitigations we come up with don't change the rate by much. I don't want to downplay 11.5 million deaths, but I also don't want to overreact (and in fact, I don't know how to overreact usefully).

I'd love to know how many of the serious cases have remaining disability. Duration and impact of survival cases could easily be the differences between unpleasantness and disruption that doubles the death rate, and societal collapse that kills 10x or more as the disease directly.

Comment by dagon on Slack Budget: 3 surprise problems per week · 2020-02-26T23:18:16.017Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I like this conceptualization a whole lot. Structure your reserves such that the replenish rate matches the frequency of need: it's OK to dip into daily reserves once a day or so, and monthly reserves about once a month. If you have recently used more of your reserves (or something is coming up that you predict will need more), you should restructure a bit to increase your replenishment rate.

Comment by dagon on Matthew Barnett's Shortform · 2020-02-26T20:34:42.433Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Quite. Those with capability to actually prepare or change outcomes definitely SHOULD do so. But not by worrying - by analyzing and acting. Whether bureaucrats and politicians can or will do this is up for debate.

I wish I could believe that politicians and bureaucrats were clever enough to be acting strongly behind the scenes while trying to avoid panic by loudly saying "don't worry" to the people likely to do more harm than good if they worry. But I suspect not.

Comment by dagon on Matthew Barnett's Shortform · 2020-02-26T18:37:46.930Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not sure exactly what I'm saying about how and whether you used knowledge personally. You're free to value and do what you want. I'm mostly disagreeing with your thesis that "don't worry about it" is a syndrome or a serious problem to fix. For people that won't or can't act on the concern in a way that actually improves the situation, there's not much value in worrying about it.