Comment by davex on Time series forecasting for global temperature: an outside view of climate forecasting · 2014-07-20T07:27:02.597Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

If the models depend on factors which cannot be reliably forecast (e.g. "PDO, AMO, and solar cycles" above), then it is a bit of a fake explanation and you can't use them as reliable inputs to a forecast model. Would it be it reasonable to use Akasofu's sine-wave extrapolation of the multi-decadal oscillation in light of the prior two observed "cycles" ?

Also the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation indices are measures of the response of the system, and treating them as a driver of the system smuggles some of the dependent response variables into the supposedly independent predictor variables.

Comment by davex on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 26, chapter 97 · 2013-08-20T16:10:19.020Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW


Comment by davex on Improving Enjoyment and Retention Reading Technical Literature · 2013-08-07T16:14:10.523Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I've enjoyed the Mindhacks tip to write in books -- If you can see how to write it better, summarize it better, index it better, or organize it better, doing so is an active use of the information.

Comment by davex on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 24, chapter 95 · 2013-07-19T17:43:14.792Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Incremental synchronizations are interesting -- if Horcruxes can get out of sync, then the "soul" recovered from each may develop conflicting objectives.

Comment by davex on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 19, chapter 88-89 · 2013-07-01T08:41:57.202Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Perhaps Harry will do something with his personal copy of Hermione and a hack of Merlin's computer.

Just hours before:

"Of course there is!" Harry said. The boy suddenly looked a bit more vulnerable. "You mean there isn't a copy of me living in your head?"

There was, she realized; and not only that, it talked in Harry's exact voice.

Given Voldemort's novel formatting of his brain, Harry's apparently already got the hardware to contain or access one extra soul, how much more would he need for another?

Comment by davex on Don't Get Offended · 2013-03-07T05:56:21.700Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

It seems that it would be easier to keep one's identity small the less one deviates from the norms.

Literally screaming racial slurs in a person's face is an offensive act. Acting cool may be one good defensive strategy, but other strategies are not unwarranted.

Maybe I'm having a problem with 'offended' as a mental state as opposed to something like 'angry'. 'Angry' seems more of a mental state or feeling within yourself, while 'offended' seems less of a feeling but more a description of an act that you are attributing to the other person.

I read this post more as "Don't get angry" than as "Don't get offended" or "Don't feel attacked"

Comment by davex on Neuroimaging as alternative/supplement to cryonics? · 2012-05-15T19:13:13.934Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

How much loss is acceptable in the reconstruction?

I'd imagine the reconstructed minds would be happier with their own fidelity than the deconstructed minds. And that the reconstructor might trade off some fidelity for utility towards whatever purpose they had in doing the reconstruction.

I see and -- are there other good discussions?

The gap between creating a working mind and producing an exact reconstruction seems large.

Comment by davex on Tool for maximizing paperclips vs a paperclip maximizer · 2012-05-13T02:38:23.460Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

My roomba does not just keep sweeping until it runs out of power. It terminates quickly in a small space and terminates slower in a large space. To terminate it must somehow sense the size of the space it is working in and compare it to some register of how long it has operated.

Roombas try to build up a (very limited) model of how big the room is from the longest uninterrrupted traversal it can sense. See "Can you tell me more about the cleaning algorithm that the Roomba uses?" in

Comment by davex on The self-unfooling problem · 2011-10-12T03:27:04.007Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I'm confused about the "hide" part of the initial task, or the "fooling" that needs to be unfooled. The objective function rewards ineffective fooling.

It seems you simply mean "store" such that you can find it.

Comment by davex on GAZP vs. GLUT · 2011-10-06T14:26:48.758Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Eliezer covered some of this in description of the twenty-ply GLUT being not infinite, but still much larger than the universe. The number of plys in the conversation is the number of "iterations" simulated by the GLUT. For an hour-long Turing test, the GLUT would still not be infinite, (i.e., still describe the Chinese Room thought experiment) and, for the purposes of the thought experiment, it would still be computable without infinite resources.

Certainly, drastic economies could be had by using more complicated programming, but the outputs would be indistinguishable.

Comment by davex on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 8 · 2011-09-12T18:18:21.859Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

We know Hermione didn't send herself a signal she could notice instantly on a second iteration. As of ch76, we do not know if she sent herself a signal not instantly noticable.

You might not want to use a signal that could be detected by yourself during an obliviation event in order to make sure the signal isn't telegraphed to the obliviator.

Harry might think that if one needed to signal obliviation, it might be best to detect it safely in the future, unless he thought he could make use of an instantly detectable signal and a tactical response would be worth risking interception. In Ch. 6 he risked interception of the signal (he told the potential obliviator McGonnagal about it) in order to forestall obliviation. I doubt that that tactic would work with Mr. Hat and Cloak/Ms. Veil/...

Comment by davex on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 8 · 2011-09-07T09:51:43.957Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I doubt the Ch. 6 signal was magic, since he'd invented it and the recognition code before knowing about magic, and implemented during his first shopping trip. I don't think you'd need magic to signal obliviation or a full-on groundhog day attack.

Magic-wise, I'd suppose that obliviation would make a rememberall signal permanently, but then it seems like that would be important to for obliviators to counter somehow.

Magic leaves an armory worth of potential Chekov guns laying around. If owling hand grenades isn't enough to win the next war, it should be something interesting.

Comment by davex on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 8 · 2011-09-06T18:17:23.317Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'd think the chances are fair that Harry passed his Chap 6 obliviation signaling method onto his allies. If she is paranoid enough to key it for disorienting encounters with powerful wizards, the chances are high they might end up talking about encounter N.

What would signal would Harry think best? Something you could detect at the time of signalling, like a broken toothpick in your pocket, or a signal detectable safely in the future, like a penmark on the inside of your pocket? Probably both.

Comment by davex on Hollow Adjectives · 2011-05-05T18:09:42.695Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

With a lever, and a place to stand, you can lift the barbell.

Defining omnipotence in respect to all possible beings seems more like "suprapotent" or "ultrapotent".

How is this the actual meaning of "omnipotence" and how does it relate to "a descriptor who's actual meaning makes an argument self-evidently bad, but which is sound if you do really think about it"

I'd taboo "actual" and "really".

Comment by davex on Extremely Important Cell Phone Feature Missing · 2011-05-03T19:46:57.854Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Hams do this sort of thing already. If they could hook their G3 cell phone to a car battery and easily make it into a G3 APRS digipeater, they would do that too.

If the cell phone towers are down, maintaining a charge cell phone battery is near useless in current emergencies.

Comment by davex on Extremely Important Cell Phone Feature Missing · 2011-05-03T19:40:17.419Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

You need the distinct transmit/receive channels for full-duplex communication. The frequencies often only differ by <10MHz or so, with the uplink band being adjacent to the receiving band so they can share the same antenna an RF circuitry. The RF circuitry isn't the technical difficulty, it's in the software/firmware that is controlling the hardware. With some firmware/software changes, cell phones should be able to do some ham-APRS-like protocol.

The Hams have already solved this once using APRS at 144.39MHz, and it's dumb that we don't have a similar solution ported to cell phones at a convenient one of their working frequencies when not in reach of an on-line tower.

Comment by davex on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 7 · 2011-01-30T06:22:26.035Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think I saw a demo, or video a demo, about 15 years ago, of the ERICA gaze-tracking program at UVA where onlookers could see the screen change characters while the person whose gaze was being tracked couldn't see the changes. If I remember correctly, it was a screen of normal text in MS-Word or something that would mutate into gibberish where the user wasn't watching.

Comment by davex on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 6 · 2010-11-28T03:01:33.114Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

After reading that Bones and Dumbledore had timeturners, and remembering that if the ministry hands them out to schoolchildren, I thought probably any ministry official rating an iPhone, Blackberry, or Franklin Planner would have one as well. So, certainly the Dark Lord should/could/would have recognized their utility and gathered a few for his side.

Comment by davex on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 5 · 2010-11-27T03:57:37.544Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

A 6 hour simulation buffer would explain a T-6hour limit, but not that you couldn't go back into the same simulation buffer more than once, or that you couldn't operate on the 4 disjoint 6-hour segments of the 24 hour limit.

With an un-shelled Time Turner, could Harry go backwards from 23:59 to 17:59, then cover most of the same 6 hour interval again by jumping back from 00:01 the next day to 18:01?

Depending on how the 6 hours in 24 constraint is imposed, (Scotland's midnight-midnight, noon-noon, whenever the operator's variable 24-30hour days roll over, 9:00pm-9:00pm, a leaky-bucket token at 15sec/min, or whatever), what happens at 9 hours past lunch could be odd.

Comment by davex on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 5 · 2010-11-24T02:18:13.862Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Any reasoning from Bella's apparent knowledge should take into account the Dementor-induced censoring of good memories, (e.g., sun, clouds).

Perhaps she can still remember parts of the plans that went wrong without remembering the successful parts.

Comment by davex on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 5 · 2010-11-10T02:13:50.419Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Two materials is true for a solid rocket motor, casing/nozzle + propellant. However, instead of a bare motor lit with a simple Incendio, this muggle tech seems to be a fully tricked out Berserker PFRC rocket complete with an electronic ignition.

Comment by davex on An Xtranormal Intelligence Explosion · 2010-11-08T20:04:37.403Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Conflicts between subgoals indicate premature fixation on alternative solutions. The alternatives shouldn't be prioritized as goals in and of themselves. The other aspects of their evaluation would fit better as goals or subgoals to be optimized. A goal should give you guidance for choosing between alternatives.

In your example, one might ask what goal can one optimize to help make good decisions between policies like "replace old buildings with better ones" and "don't lose architectural masterpieces"?

Comment by davex on Waser's 3 Goals of Morality · 2010-11-08T19:24:15.895Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

In your example, money versus happiness is a choice between alternatives. Whatever goal you are trying to optimize towards should provide the guidance in making the choices between alternatives.

Language about "Over-optimizing" one alternative at the expense of another distracts from identifying your real goals and how you make the tradeoffs to achieve them

Comment by davex on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 4 · 2010-11-05T21:31:29.514Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

My posts was fuzzily asking a couple things: one about what Voldemort in MOR would/should/did do, where I read your answer as that we should look to the natural world, and a more general one about beings in general, where it is obvious that they do indeed copy themselves.

In the biological world, resources are limited, and we're in competition with fairly evenly matched competitors. AI-wise, I don't see how we could effectively limit the resources or interfere with the fidelity for a sufficiently advanced AI.

Back to the particular example of horcruxes in MOR, It seems like the costs and perhaps fidelity are significantly different than canon (Bacon's diary?), and I wonder if that will have interesting implications.

Comment by davex on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 4 · 2010-11-05T19:40:11.330Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

If it is a "very recently" created horcrux, one thing it means is that the maker is healthy enough to make horcruxes. Taken with Ch54, killing-curse ricochets might not be as damaging as one expects.

Comment by davex on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 5 · 2010-11-03T16:02:17.693Z · score: 12 (12 votes) · LW · GW

A copy with knowledge of a Azkaban at a certain time seems forbidden from approaching/entering Azkaban at a prior time. See "Azkaban's future couldn't interact with its past, so she hadn't been able to arrive before the DMLE had gotten the message," in Ch55. The restraint isn't so much when the DMLE gets the message, it's when Azkaban sends the message. It can't send a message that affects its past.

Azkaban might be a good place to try a can of Comed-tea.

Comment by davex on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 4 · 2010-11-02T17:42:10.331Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

How do we know that one needs to eliminate another soul in order to do horcrux-like magic?

If copies require wiping out of existing virtual machines, population growth should be impossible. Since, at least in the muggle world, population growth happens, would this be evidence against a theory of a simulated world?

Also, if the Bacon Diary is a "very recent" Horcrux, wouldn't that imply the cost to the original is not a strict division?

Comment by davex on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 4 · 2010-11-02T16:51:24.895Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Perhaps I'm dense, but the obvious bits seem interesting. If resources are limited, each copy would end up sharing a smaller fraction of the same pool. If there is some fidelity loss in the copying, copies may have conflicting objectives. The risk of a duplicate becoming a rival seems non-trivial. If there a significant cost/damage to the original in the copying process, perhaps most would not.

MOR's horcruxing process seems different than canon, and the differences between what is required by the author's narrative, by what actually happens in biology, or by what would hypothetically happen in really-real reality given some future copying process seem non-obvious.

ETA: It seems like Toby's comment uses "is" to prove "ought", and extending that to cover future mind copying does the same.

Comment by davex on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 4 · 2010-11-02T15:33:22.076Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Copying mind state differs from sexual or asexual reproduction. I was wondering how the MOR soul-splitting, copying, backup, imprinting, and possession mechanism works and how it might be exploited.

Could, for instance, Harry split his soul into its separate agents without the act of murder? Or is the important part of the Horcrux magic stealing someone's soul to use as media to make a copy your own soul? How close are Harry's suppositions in Ch20 to the MOR-reality?

Comment by davex on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 4 · 2010-11-01T21:28:15.193Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Chap 65:

Harry's treatment of the different (agents?) in his head make me wonder about the MOR Horcrux mechanics and the possibility of making copies of a being. If the horcrux copying process is repetatively damaging, like analog copies of a wax cyinder recording, there would be a degradation in each stage, and the last horcrux, Harry would be the poorest copy. Or if each horcux was same-quality, there might have been only something like limitations on the first analog-digital conversion, and successive generations of copies might be exact, like digital-to-digital. The ability to copy consciousness is interesting. One can, a la Star Trek transporters, destroy the original to keep from having duplicates, you could let either the scanning process not destroy things, or you could make the construction process repeatable. High-fidelity digital reproduction make software and IP copies have constant marginal cost, and I wonder what that might mean for copies of consciousness.

If Voldemort can have a number of horcruxes, each of which can regenerate a new Voldy, why can't he generate multiple selves from them? Would a being with the ability to copy itself do so, or not? A team of Voldemorts, or post-horcrux-Voldemorts would be more powerful and resilient than a single one. Or is Voldemort too selfish to work with himself?

Comment by davex on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 4 · 2010-10-27T16:44:55.006Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Ch 54 (emphasis in original)

Are things like the "insanely powerful opponent", the spell caught on the end of the wand, and wizardry run wild and then controlled when "[t]he man threw his wand away from himself (he threw away his wand!)" like stuff in canon, Or is this something we should take particular note of?

Perhaps Voldemort/Quirrell are manifestations of something insanely powerful that really does not want to be examined by human science?

Comment by davex on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 4 · 2010-10-27T13:58:39.403Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I read it as too late for Harry to save himself. And before that, Voldy was already gone, prior to Bahry's reflexive stunner spell.

Comment by davex on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 4 · 2010-10-27T13:45:38.414Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Auror Bahry threatened some "area effect curses" and "anti-disillusionment" charms, so they seem to have some effective methods if they suspect invisible adversaries.

Comment by davex on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 4 · 2010-10-26T18:43:57.869Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I think the title was redacted in order to not give the game away too early, as in Chapter 9.

Maybe the magical incompatibility is real, and perhaps the dark social engineering behind the Stanford Prison Experiment relates to Chapter 16, Lateral Thinking. In Ch16, there's almost the same words in all-caps dizzying his brain. It might be explained by the sense of doom and magical incompatibility. Also Ch16 has “Mr. Potter, I never said you were to kill. There is a time and a place for taking your enemy alive,..." If Quirrell senses similar doom on his side, framing Harry as the Dark Lord and almost capable of breaking his most trusted lieutenant out of Azkaban might be a cunning lateral-thinking plot to dispose of all but a fragment of his nemesis without using anything direct.

Comment by davex on The Science of Cutting Peppers · 2010-09-13T21:27:16.521Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

My favorite method is to cut it in half vertically/meridianally without cutting the core nor the stem portion, crack the two sides away from the core and discard it, then flatten and slice up the sides. With care, the core is undisturbed and intact, and you can slice up the rest quickly--maybe 15-20 sec per pepper to julienned, another 15 to diced.

However, if you are looking for pretty rings, which I think are often far too large to be bite size, my* method doesn't produce them.

(* 'my method' meaning as a friend/chef taught me, and is partially illustrated in Rombauer's "Joy of Cooking")

Following the theme of the post, perhaps the lesson is for one to look for sources outside oneself for criticism and alternatives so you can identify opportunities and metrics for improvement

Comment by davex on Rationality quotes: September 2010 · 2010-09-07T18:55:32.670Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

"Hence our truth is the intersection of independent lies."

-- Richard Levins, "The Strategy of Model Building in Population Biology" American Scientist, V. 54, No 4, Dec 1966, pp421-430.

It is part of this paragraph on p. 423:

"Therefore, we attempt to treat the same problem with several alternative models each with different simplifications but with a common biological assumption. Then, if these models, despite their different assumptions, lead to similar results we have what we can call a robust theorem which is relatively free of the details of the model. Hence our truth is the intersection of independent lies."