Comment by davis_kingsley on In My Culture · 2019-03-11T05:58:20.569Z · score: 19 (4 votes) · LW · GW

To be clear I'm not making the claim that what I described above is an endorsed or correct experience, just how I've actually encountered it in practice at times. I'll try and keep track of my impressions when I encounter this sort of thing in the future, and take what you've said here into account.

Comment by davis_kingsley on In My Culture · 2019-03-10T22:59:06.980Z · score: 22 (6 votes) · LW · GW

When I have heard people use this "in the wild", it has at times come off as *extremely* insulting or condescending. In particular, when both participants are part of the same culture, it feels like one participant is making an extremely aggressive conversational move, something along the lines of "I understand this culture/community better than you and I declare that you are Out Of Bounds". It is precisely in heated/tense situations where this most seems to backfire, which makes me skeptical of the utility of this technique "in the wild".

I note that most of the examples you give seem innocuous and legitimate and in fact things I'd like to see more of - but somehow in practice this often seems to backfire in the most important instances, at least when I've seen it done.

Comment by davis_kingsley on Karma-Change Notifications · 2019-03-02T21:31:23.721Z · score: 7 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Great feature, I really like this.

Comment by davis_kingsley on What is a reasonable outside view for the fate of social movements? · 2019-01-08T10:04:50.413Z · score: 39 (10 votes) · LW · GW

I just used for this. Here's my metric, I don't know if you guys count it:

  • -1: Clearly failed, repudiated by history (slavery in the US)
  • 0: Unclear if had any real lasting success
  • 1: Partial success - did something meaningful but has not fully accomplished goals, still active
  • 2: Major success - became a major, lasting cultural force, still active
  • 3: Total or near-total victory (abolitionism in the US), may or may not be still active gave me the following 28 results. I've linked to the Wikipedia pages and provided my rating and brief justification for each. All of these are my attempt to rate these things as a dispassionate evaluator rather than using my own opinions of the value of these movements. My evaluations may be especially inaccurate for non-US political movements, feel free to correct me if you know more than me about any of these:

Slow movement: 0. Slow food is the most impactful aspect of this movement that I can identify and it's unclear to me whether it had any impact other than being a fad, though there's still some activity.

India Against Corruption: 0. Movement broke up via internal schism, and the bill that it was promoting failed. Anti-corruption is still a cause but this particular movement seems to have died out.

Animal rights movement: 2. The animal rights movement has clearly "moved the needle" on some issues and achieved broad mainstream recognition, but there is still a ways to go in terms of the deeper animal rights objectives and their views are far from universally accepted.

Gerakan Harapan Baru (New Hope Movement in Malaysia): 1. After their attempt to create a new political party was rejected, this movement took over an established political party and elected several candidates.

Pro-choice movement: 2. The "pro-choice movement" (supports abortion in the US) is clearly a major cultural force and has achieved several major victories, but is still very much still controversial and some of their gains have been reversed or are at risk of being reversed.

Slow Food movement: 1. This is slightly redundant with the Slow movement as a whole, which I already rated. I gave the Slow movement as a whole a 0 but I'll give Slow Food a 1 since it's been fairly relevant in its sector, albeit thanks to much less ambitious goals.

Effective altruism: 1. EA has moved substantial amounts of money and achieved relevant and growing cultural influence, but is not a "major cultural force" at this phase... yet! Growth mindset! (I'd like to reiterate that this is my private opinion and not that of any org!)

Voluntary Human Extinction Movement: 0. Voluntary human extinction is very fringe. I'm tempted to give it a negative number, but VHE/antinatalism is still somewhat active and it was a rather unlikely position to begin with.

Free love: 1. This movement was ultimately supplanted to a degree by other related causes in the "sexual revolution", but it did have a meaningful impact even if it didn't end up being the "final form". This could be argued to be a 2, I'd rate the sexual revolution as a whole there but free love in particular ended up being marginalized.

Women's suffrage movement: 3. So successful, at least in the West, that every now and then pranksters circulate petitions to "end women's suffrage" and people sign because 'suffrage' sounds like 'suffering' and the suffrage movement has been so effective that it is now broadly disbanded and people don't know what it is anymore.

Black Lives Matter: 1. While this movement certainly achieved prominence and could be said to be a major cultural force in the United States, it remains to be seen how lasting and impactful this will be - the movement is still in its first five years.

Anti-capitalism: 2. Anti-capitalist movements may have failed to overthrow capitalism completely, but they had a lasting impact on world history and are still politically relevant in many areas of the world.

Children's rights movement: 2. Child labor has been greatly reduced, but there's still a ways to go, especially in non-Western countries. This should perhaps be a 2.5 or so?

Organic movement: 2. Organic food has become a significant industry and "organic" certifications are now considered important. However, while organic things are trendy at present it's unclear if the influence here will keep growing.

Rural People's Movement: 0. Failed political movement in Weimar Germany. Several of its people were arrested after they began terrorist attacks and the Landvolk newspaper was repeatedly suppressed. Naziism superseded this to some degree; I almost gave this a -1 but it may have been a precursor to later developments.

Mad Pride: 0. Unclear to me whether this has had a substantial or lasting impact. Mental illness terms have been destigmatized to some degree but this seems to me likely the result of broader factors.

Narmada Bachao Andolan: -1. Attempted to stop the construction of a dam - the dam was constructed anyway, and while this group may have delayed that I still count this as distinctly failed.

Temperance movement: -1. This movement was so successful in the short term that they were able to amend the Constitution in the United States and implement Prohibition, but this proved to be dramatically unsuccessful, was repealed less than fifteen years later, and is now widely derided.

Occupy movement: 0. This movement attracted widespread attention for some time, but after the "protest camps" died down it has fallen out of the public eye. It is possible this movement drew national attention to the issue of income inequality but it is unclear that they were responsible or that this will last.

Situationist International: 0. This movement was very influential in France in the late 1960s, but closed down in the 1970s and its lasting impact, if any , is unclear.

Time's Up (movement): 1. This movement is very recent and is broadly part of the #MeToo movement. It is popular in a certain sense but it is unclear whether it will have a substantial, lasting impact (though I certainly hope it does!)

Landless Peoples Movement (South Africa): 0. It is unclear to me whether this movement is really having a big impact.

Pro-life movement: 2. Like the "pro-choice movement", the "pro-life movement" (opposed to abortion in the US) is a major cultural force and has had some victories recently. It is unclear what the lasting impact of this will be, but at least right now it's quite a big deal.

Anti-nuclear movement: 2. The anti-nuclear movement was very effective at stopping nuclear power developments in the West and remains powerful in several respects, but has not achieved or come close to achieving full nuclear disarmament.

Counterculture movement: 2. As Wikipedia says, "The era was also notable in that a significant portion of the array of behaviors and "causes" within the larger movement were quickly assimilated within mainstream society, particularly in the US, even though counterculture participants numbered in the clear minority within their respective national populations."

Brights movement: 0. My assessment is that the Brights movement is an essentially failed rebranding of the atheist/skeptic/secular humanist movement.

Free software movement: 1. The Free software movement has been broadly supplanted by open source, but hasn't been entirely replaced, and is clearly still culturally relevant. If open source were the question I'd probably give it a 2 rather than a 1.

Via Campesina: 1. This movement claims to represent very many people and coined the term "food sovereignty", but it is unclear to me how organized and effective it is. I could easily see this being a 2.

Comment by davis_kingsley on Card Balance and Artifact · 2018-12-28T18:38:57.909Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I am not sure that I could disagree more with this post. I consider Mark Rosewater's "When Cards Go Bad" and the associated ideas to have been extremely damaging to card game design.

(Sorry, hit submit too early, will have more to say in detail later!)

Comment by davis_kingsley on Card Collection and Ownership · 2018-12-27T18:22:34.711Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Interesting. For my part, I was waiting before getting more into Artifact to see what they would do about the obvious balance issues (Axe being the most prominent one), and their recent announcement has me really happy. It turns out I just care so much more about a game *being a good game* than I do about the "physicality" of the cards or whatever.

I've long thought that the physicality of real card games is a downside and that digital games are hugely advantaged by their ability to patch, but that most of the digital game designers were failing to make use of the medium to the fullest by implementing balance patches, instead focusing on "showy" randomized effects and animations that can't be done in paper. I'm really pleased to see that Artifact is going to take a more aggressive approach to balance issues.

Comment by davis_kingsley on How democracy ends: a review and reevaluation · 2018-11-27T23:23:55.205Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

IIRC I've heard it claimed that Mattis is so popular that he could throw a coup, but that might only apply to the Marine Corps.

Comment by davis_kingsley on If You Want to Win, Stop Conceding · 2018-11-23T06:11:10.488Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm actually not sure re: practice. I know people who would just play out the first X turns of a game then reset to get deliberate practice on the openings; I think there's some merit to that, but I also think most people don't practice fighting back from really unpleasant situations enough. Not sure how these effects line up for particular individuals.

Comment by davis_kingsley on Review: Artifact · 2018-11-22T18:34:15.137Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Very cool review, made me seriously consider taking this game seriously.

I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on KeyForge, if you ever feel like posting/formulating those.

If You Want to Win, Stop Conceding

2018-11-22T18:10:31.439Z · score: 49 (25 votes)
Comment by davis_kingsley on If You Want to Win, Stop Conceding · 2018-11-22T16:37:56.474Z · score: 26 (10 votes) · LW · GW

One important caveat to this is that it doesn't mean you have to fight as hard as possible in every single battle, play out every single hand, or otherwise fight ferociously on an *object* level - you should be fighting ferociously on a *meta* level. It's fine, and perhaps even necessary in many games, to concede some battles in order to win the war.

(inspiration for this comment goes to Rationalist Discourse Club user "Bar Fight", who pointed out "good post, but 'concede less' is extremely bad advice for most poker players"!)

Schools Proliferating Without Practicioners

2018-10-26T05:25:03.959Z · score: 36 (14 votes)
Comment by davis_kingsley on Nyoom · 2018-10-13T19:21:21.149Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

I don't consider "the title of this post is almost completely uninformative" to be a minor issue, nor do I consider "it doesn't signal in-group enough" to be an issue at all. I know the author personally and she's probably way more "in-group" than I am, I'd just prefer to see posts here with more informative titles, especially if they don't pertain as directly to the main topics of the site.

(I was wondering if there was going to be a Big Rationalist Lesson at the end, since the title didn't tell me it was just a scooter review.)

Comment by davis_kingsley on Nyoom · 2018-10-13T14:58:09.519Z · score: 5 (13 votes) · LW · GW

I like this post in several respects but it doesn't really feel like LW content to me, especially given the title.

Comment by davis_kingsley on We can all be high status · 2018-10-12T16:16:02.507Z · score: 8 (3 votes) · LW · GW
There's a possibility for corruption here, as I briefly mentioned, if people get so deprived that they will sacrifice their other needs or values for the sake of status alone.
I considered that to be obvious in writing this. I'm not necessarily talking about the problem of getting status regardless of everything else. I'm also not talking about how to get status as an individual. I'm rather talking about getting the whole community a sense of status while keeping our other values intact.

Yes, I think giving the community a "sense of status" has substantial risks of exacerbating the corruption that I mentioned earlier. In other words, I think recognizing achievements is nice, but making that recognition too systematic leads to significantly increased gaming of that system, Goodharting, etc.

Comment by davis_kingsley on We can all be high status · 2018-10-11T19:11:24.181Z · score: 12 (8 votes) · LW · GW

My sense is that increasing the amount of time and attention that we pay to status and related dynamics is extremely negative; I don't expect it to help and I think that issues related to these situations get significantly much worse when people are consciously targeting them.

As C.S. Lewis said in his excellent talk "The Inner Ring":

The torture allotted to the Danaids in the classical underworld, that of attempting to fill sieves with water, is the symbol not of one vice, but of all vices. It is the very mark of a perverse desire that it seeks what is not to be had. The desire to be inside the invisible line illustrates this rule. As long as you are governed by that desire you will never get what you want. You are trying to peel an onion: if you succeed there will be nothing left. Until you conquer the fear of being an outsider, an outsider you will remain.
This is surely very clear when you come to think of it. If you want to be made free of a certain circle for some wholesome reason—if, say, you want to join a musical society because you really like music—then there is a possibility of satisfaction. You may find yourself playing in a quartet and you may enjoy it. But if all you want is to be in the know, your pleasure will be short lived. The circle cannot have from within the charm it had from outside. By the very act of admitting you it has lost its magic.

And later:

The quest of the Inner Ring will break your hearts unless you break it. But if you break it, a surprising result will follow. If in your working hours you make the work your end, you will presently find yourself all unawares inside the only circle in your profession that really matters. You will be one of the sound craftsmen, and other sound craftsmen will know it. This group of craftsmen will by no means coincide with the Inner Ring or the Important People or the People in the Know. It will not shape that professional policy or work up that professional influence which fights for the profession as a whole against the public: nor will it lead to those periodic scandals and crises which the Inner Ring produces. But it will do those things which that profession exists to do and will in the long run be responsible for all the respect which that profession in fact enjoys and which the speeches and advertisements cannot maintain.

This is essentially my view. I do not think it is generally productive to concern yourself with being In or High-Status or Getting Invited to the Right Parties or Being Talked About; I think it is productive to focus on the work that actually builds and contributes to the project, and let the parties and invitations and all that come as they may (or may not).

Comment by davis_kingsley on thought: the problem with less wrong's epistemic health is that stuff isn't short form · 2018-09-07T21:55:41.855Z · score: 8 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Both, but the sidebar widget is the main thing I miss. I notice that I still use it on the EA Forum, for instance, which has much of old-LW's structure. On current LW I have to scroll down a lot on the front page to see recent comments and they don't appear while reading posts, which IMO quite reduces my engagement.

Comment by davis_kingsley on thought: the problem with less wrong's epistemic health is that stuff isn't short form · 2018-09-06T23:46:46.132Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

One thing I'll point out is the "recent discussion" feels less accessible than on old LW (requires scrolling), and the lack of a "top users, 30 days" section probably decreases my engagement a bit as well - both because of the lack of a "leaderboard effect" and because it can be useful to look at that to see who's been posting interesting content that I might otherwise have missed.

Comment by davis_kingsley on Great Founder Theory · 2018-09-06T13:25:13.093Z · score: 11 (4 votes) · LW · GW

It... sorta feels like you've reinvented the (broadly discredited) Great Man theory of history? The focus on institutions mitigates one of the problems with that theory, but I think it may just be kicking the can down the road a bit.

While there are some highly effective and influential organizations and institutions that seem to have greatly benefited from strong leadership from founders (Naval Reactors Branch under Rickover), there are others where this story is much more dubious (Bell Labs).

Comment by davis_kingsley on Isolating Content can Create Affordances · 2018-08-31T04:53:57.955Z · score: 18 (5 votes) · LW · GW

My friend FireBatVillain drew my attention to the following study: You Can't Stay Here, The Efficacy of Reddit's 2015 Ban Examined Through Hate Speech. He points out that this study indicates after hateful subreddits were banned from Reddit, the removal of the offending subreddits did not cause "hate speech" to increase on other parts of the site - on the contrary, even subreddits that saw an influx of users who had formerly used the banned areas did not see significant changes in "hate speech" usage.

In other words, this study shows an instance where the existence of spaces for certain types of bad content was increasing their prevalence, and removing those spaces did not cause the content to "spill back" into the rest of the site.

Now, one difference between this and my original claim is that the spaces in question were not explicitly containment areas - however, I still consider this to be relevant supporting evidence.

Comment by davis_kingsley on Isolating Content can Create Affordances · 2018-08-24T04:22:24.301Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Great points here. The UI/UX distinction is key here in my view - when the act of creating a containment space necessarily makes the existence of such a space visible, the problem I've described is much more relevant than when the existence sort of space is not immediately apparent to users - even if via simple obscurity in a huge list, as with IRC.

(One potential way to address this in Discord is to make the containment space opt-in, but in my experience this has not been particularly effective, in part because the best way to do this on Discord (roles) is itself quite easy to notice.)

Comment by davis_kingsley on Isolating Content can Create Affordances · 2018-08-23T19:52:04.427Z · score: 30 (9 votes) · LW · GW

And yet I now notice people saying things along the lines of "SlateStarCodex is a place to go for culture war things" and the like. If that was intended that's fine, but I think culture war stuff on SSC absolutely falls into the category where an affordance is being created.

Isolating Content can Create Affordances

2018-08-23T08:28:52.961Z · score: 60 (25 votes)
Comment by davis_kingsley on What are your plans for the evening of the apocalypse? · 2018-08-03T14:16:52.811Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I suspect a lot more people would start attending church.

Comment by davis_kingsley on On the Chatham House Rule · 2018-06-14T14:12:21.931Z · score: 24 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I generally agree with this post. In my experience with several events operating under this rule:'

1. Many people disregard the rule or don't take it very seriously.

2. Others may not hear that the rule is in effect at all, especially if they arrive late or otherwise miss orientation.

3. This creates a negative selection effect where the only ones openly discussing specifics of an event that is covered by the rule are those who don't take the rule very seriously - generally speaking, these are not the people who would be most optimal as the public face of the event.

I do think the principle behind the rule is useful, but in practice I have noticed that it often seems more of a hindrance than a boon. I somewhat worry that having multiple rules will increase noncompliance or misunderstandings, however, which seem frequent even as it stands.

Comment by davis_kingsley on Societal Growth Requires Rehabilitation · 2018-05-28T06:59:59.149Z · score: 15 (6 votes) · LW · GW

At the risk of sounding elitist, you mention people who are nonverbal and struggle with abstract concepts. To be frank, the community is not oriented towards those people, does not particularly try to serve them, and would be stretched very thin if it tried to do so. I suspect that efforts headed in such a direction would be counterproductive.

That isn't to say that we shouldn't try to be inclusive - but at some point a line should be drawn with respect to who is and isn't in our target audience, and I think "this person does not grasp abstract concepts" is far over that line.

Duncan Sabien on Moderating LessWrong

2018-05-24T10:12:26.996Z · score: 38 (18 votes)
Comment by davis_kingsley on Affordance Widths · 2018-05-12T21:47:03.730Z · score: 4 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'd like to see more examples, though it's quite possible they're sensitive or otherwise bad to discuss in public. But right now I feel that I understand the model in theory but not at all where I should be applying it.

Comment by davis_kingsley on Terrorism, Tylenol, and dangerous information · 2018-05-12T21:11:06.383Z · score: 12 (3 votes) · LW · GW

While the late 19th and early 20th century anarchist attackers often wanted to target the well-off (and indeed carried out many assassination attempts in service of this goal), they weren't averse to making indiscriminate attacks as long as the target was vaguely upclass - consider the Cafe Terminus attack or the Galleanist Wall Street bombing, which were indiscriminate in nature.

Similarly, the anarchist doctrine of "propaganda of the deed" held that attacks would break down the state's monopoly on violence and show the people that revolution was possible, and as such the attacks were valuable simply as demonstrations, even if they did not kill their intended targets; the 1919 Galleanist bombings, while notionally assassination attempts against various powerful figures, killed only a night watchman and blew a servant's hands off, but were still considered blows struck for anarchy.

My sense is that Galleani and his followers would have been quite happy to crash vehicles into crowds of people, especially in financial or government districts, but they didn't much realize it was an option.

Comment by davis_kingsley on Terrorism, Tylenol, and dangerous information · 2018-05-12T20:53:44.519Z · score: 8 (2 votes) · LW · GW

If I were Tom Clancy I hope that I would not have published Debt of Honor. I don't know whether terrorists were inspired by it, but at least for me it's pretty clearly in the "not worth the risk" category.

In some respects the 9/11 attacks can be considered similar to the Tylenol incident (though obviously much more devastating) - an incident took place using a method that had been theoretically viable for a long time, prompting immediate corrective action.

One of the reasons those attacks were so successful is that air hijacks were relatively common, but most led "only" to hostage scenarios, demands for the release of political prisoners, etc - in point of fact the standard protocol was to cooperate with hijackers, and as Wikipedia says "often, during the epidemic of skyjackings in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the end result was an inconvenient but otherwise harmless trip to Cuba for the passengers." Post-9/11, hijacks began being taken much more seriously.

(There were actually many terrorist attempts against airplanes in the time shortly after 9/11, though most were not hijack attempts - the infamous "shoe bomber" who attempted to destroy an aircraft in flight a few months later, only to be beaten and captured by other passengers, was maybe the most well known.)

Comment by davis_kingsley on Terrorism, Tylenol, and dangerous information · 2018-05-12T17:49:10.303Z · score: 13 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, I worried about this myself for some time. Ultimately I decided that terrorist organizations already know about this method and it is being widely discussed in the media, so the number of potentially dangerous people who would hear about it here first is comparatively low. Further, this method is primarily suited towards indiscriminate attacks, which I am somewhat less worried about compared to alternatives.

Terrorism, Tylenol, and dangerous information

2018-05-12T10:20:28.294Z · score: 171 (53 votes)
Comment by davis_kingsley on Duncan Sabien: "In Defense of Punch Bug" · 2018-05-06T14:07:44.459Z · score: 21 (5 votes) · LW · GW
Is Duncan/Conor OK with you linking his content here at LW? (There are of course reasons why I think this is a sensible question to ask, but I won't be going into them here.)

Yes, he Is.

Duncan Sabien: "In Defense of Punch Bug"

2018-05-03T08:26:30.641Z · score: 78 (31 votes)
Comment by davis_kingsley on Sad! · 2018-04-23T06:25:59.864Z · score: 7 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I suspect, though I am not certain, that your grandparents' view is that gay marriage isn't marriage, that they cannot be seen to countenance or respect it, and that the damage to the family is sad and unfortunate but ultimately not particularly relevant to their decision, which is theologically rather than socially motivated.

See for instance Matthew 10:34-37, which while not specifically about gay marriage in particular does seem to deal with matters where religious and family ties come into conflict:

"34 Do not think that I came to send peace upon earth: I came not to send peace, but the sword. 35 For I came to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. 36 And a man’s enemies shall be they of his own household. 37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me."

I'm not sure what group or denomination your grandparents are from, and there are quite varied perspectives on this, but I suspect they still love their daughter and find the circumstances heartbreaking, yet nevertheless cannot take action that seems to them to endorse or condone sinful behavior, even if it leads to sorrow and conflict within their family.

Comment by Davis_Kingsley on [deleted post] 2018-03-21T07:46:24.607Z

Great post! I especially like your description of the different Knights and of the "stag hunt" dynamic in general. I think I've very likely been in the white role at times in other groups. However, there's a dynamic near to this one that I also see a lot - that's one where all the relevant scaffolding has been built, the systems are in place, the group can start choosing "stag" if it wants to, but this isn't common knowledge yet.

I have often encountered (what I believe to be) this second dynamic, and it strikes me as very important - if the situation really is such that a little push can tip the balance into the "stag" equilibrium, doing that is crucial! Distinguishing between these two states seems hard and I'd quite like to be better at it.

Comment by davis_kingsley on Demon Threads · 2018-02-25T12:45:42.146Z · score: 5 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I would like for us to stop using this term. I don't think "demon thread" really says much that "terrible thread" doesn't, and while I think some of the observations you've made about these threads are helpful, the introduction of "demon thread" as yet another jargon term is IMO becoming annoying.

Comment by davis_kingsley on Circling · 2018-02-20T18:27:10.078Z · score: 37 (9 votes) · LW · GW

I want to flag that I am pretty confident that I've heard circling facilitators boasting about having had people cry during circling. I don't think it's an explicit directive, but it does seem to be something that at least some value or interpret as a sign of deepness.

Comment by davis_kingsley on Circling · 2018-02-19T07:50:09.751Z · score: 20 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Do keep in mind that Hamming circles have some very relevant differences from the sort of circling being described here. As someone who has facilitated many Hamming circles, I consider them broadly unrelated aside from both having "circle" in the name.

(probably you know this already, but just making sure!)

Comment by davis_kingsley on Circling · 2018-02-19T06:21:42.851Z · score: 25 (11 votes) · LW · GW

I quite disagree - this is just the sort of thing that I am worried will become more common (and more enforceable) with the upcoming moderation changes.

I think my disgreement may come from fundamentally different notions of what posting to the front page of LW is - in my view, it's starting a public conversation. That conversation might well move in a direction you don't want, but that's the way it is - and I don't think the conversation starter should have any special rights, explicit or implicit, to control that conversation.

I want to be very clear that I don't think Unreal is being all that rude or unreasonable with their request - and that's in fact precisely why I'm worried! If the request were obviously cruel or foolish that would be one thing, but something like this might well become accepted - and I think if requests like this are accepted there may well be a chilling effect on the overall discourse here, and it will occur in a way that is quite hard to see in the moment.

Comment by davis_kingsley on [Meta] New moderation tools and moderation guidelines · 2018-02-18T05:12:41.656Z · score: 21 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I quite dislike the idea of people being able to moderate their content in this fashion - that just isn't what a public discussion is in my view - but thanks for being transparent about this change.

Comment by davis_kingsley on Circling · 2018-02-17T20:44:04.315Z · score: 33 (11 votes) · LW · GW

(disclaimer: I've done a fair bit of circling and "authentic relating," probably dozens of hours, but am by no means an expert.)

Thanks for the post! I have had a lot of fun circling and in some cases I have seen it lead to interpersonal breakthroughs. Further, I perceive at least some applications to rationality. However, my sense is that circling falls into the same category as lucid dreaming, memory palaces, or various other interesting techniques - fun, but not really in alignment with the core spirit of rationality. Lucid dreaming can be used to train noticing confusion; circling can be used to train relevant skills as well. However, that doesn't make either a core part of the program.

I would recommend circling to many people as a fun and interesting exercise; I would not recommend it as the forefront of rationality development. I also notice that I feel a sense of apprehension around these communities becoming too intertwined, in part because many people in the circling community are, as you say, New Age hippie self-help guru types. As a result, I've intentionally shied away from exploring this area more despite quite appreciating it - I'm not sure the epistemics are there and I'm very worried about these sorts of ideas having an undue influence on the rationality development project.

Comment by davis_kingsley on Doing good while clueless · 2018-02-17T01:42:48.923Z · score: 9 (3 votes) · LW · GW
The classic heuristics and biases literature is about things like the planning fallacy; it has very little to say about intuitions about human value, which is more in the domain of experimental moral philosophy.

Fair point, though I do think it provides at least weak evidence in this domain as well. That said, there are other examples of cases where intuitions about human value can be very wrong in the moment that are perhaps more salient, - addictions and buyer's remorse come to mind.

I'm willing to entertain this as a hypothesis, although I'd be extremely sad to live in this world. I appreciate your willingness to stick up for this belief; I think this is exactly the kind of getting-past-blindspots thing we need on the meta level even if I currently disagree on the object level.


So as I mentioned in another comment, I think basically all of the weird positions described in the SSC post on EAG 2017 are wrong. People who are worrying about insect suffering or particle suffering seem to me to be making philosophical mistakes and to the extent that those people are setting agendas I think they're wasting everyone's time and attention.

I agree that these positions are mistakes. That said, I have three replies:

  1. I don't think the people who are making these sorts of mistakes are setting agendas or important policies. There are a few small organizations that are concerned with these matters, but they are (as far as I can tell) not taken particularly seriously aside from a small contingent of hardcore supporters.
  2. I worry that similar arguments can very easily be applied to all weird areas, even ones that may be valid. I personally think AI alignment considerations are quite significant, but I've often seen people saying things that I would parse as "being worried about AI alignment is a philosophical mistake", for instance.
  3. It is not clear to me that the "embodied" perspective you describe offers especially useful clarification on these issues. Perhaps it does in a way that I am too unskilled with this approach to understand? I (like you) think insect suffering and particle suffering are mistaken concepts and shouldn't be taken seriously, but I don't necessarily feel like I need an embodied perspective to realize that.
Comment by davis_kingsley on Doing good while clueless · 2018-02-16T17:50:57.598Z · score: 17 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I find this claim very surprising - in many respects it seems in opposition to a lot of the models that are conventionally used here. (That doesn't, of course, mean that it's wrong.) I think the classic heuristics and biases view holds that many of our default intuitions are predictably inaccurate. In fact, I've often thought that this community doesn't go far enough in skepticism of default "embodied concepts" - for instance, I believe there are many both in broader society and in this community for whom human sexuality is outright negative on net, and yet I see extremely few willing to entertain this notion, even as a hypothesis.

I do think that the sort of view you describe is clearly much better than the old transhumanist "my body is a meat prison" view, but my sense was that comparatively few significantly endorsed that and little policy was based on it in any case.

I'd be interested in hearing examples of scenarios where you believe important policies seem disaligned with embodied values; I find this claim very bold and am quite interested in figuring out whether there's a good way to test it. If true, it could necessitate a serious realignment of many groups.

Comment by davis_kingsley on Adequacy as Levels of Play · 2018-02-16T07:32:08.945Z · score: 4 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Excellent comment! I don't agree completely but I appreciate your taking the time to engage in such detail.

I think that concentrating efforts on the meta-game can be useful, and as you say can be one of the best ways to deal with situations that are currently extremely competitive. That being said, to me this seems almost evidence for competitiveness as a relevant aspect; these sorts of approaches become necessary only when applying standard methods won't work because the level of competition is already high.

In many fields, you can win by just showing up and "doing it right" - only in fields with serious competition, where you can reasonably expect that people have reached the limits of the current approaches, is the meta approach really necessary. That said, as you point out you often need to take a new approach in order to do something really revolutionary, even if it's easy to beat the current competitors in the field...

Comment by davis_kingsley on "Backchaining" in Strategy · 2018-02-15T11:39:13.720Z · score: 5 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Interesting suggestion! Is there a starting point you would recommend for this sort of study?

Comment by davis_kingsley on "Backchaining" in Strategy · 2018-02-15T09:39:46.863Z · score: 4 (1 votes) · LW · GW
  1. I'm trying to draw parallels to things like "We're going to win this war by winning a large naval set piece battle somewhat to the east of the line connecting the Bonin and Mariana Islands". Overspecific final plans is one of the weaknesses that this approach can lead to.
  2. What constitutes advantage is usually somewhat overt. Even if the final goal is illegible, there are usually some promising trails to follow, and making progress on those is usually readily legible, as is building general capacity for your project/group. It's important to test early and test often, of course!
  3. I'm not quite sure what this question is cutting towards, could you perhaps rephrase it?
Comment by davis_kingsley on "Cheat to Win": Engineering Positive Social Feedback · 2018-02-13T17:36:23.511Z · score: 4 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I quite agree that deciding not to worry about certain things (barring very strong warnings/overrides/etc.) across given periods is reasonable. That said, I've still had quite favorable interactions that began with that sort of unhelpful criticism and turned into either helpful criticism or more cooperative interaction.

Comment by davis_kingsley on "Backchaining" in Strategy · 2018-02-12T09:07:08.051Z · score: 7 (3 votes) · LW · GW

There are many other situations where this sort of thing applies, some with quite more serious consequences than a game of chess.

For instance, during World War II the Imperial Japanese Navy had a strategy called Kantai Kessen ("naval fleet decisive battle", often referred to simply as the Decisive Battle Doctrine), which was essentially a big backchain of this sort.

Reasoning that a naval war between Japan and the United States would culminate in a decisive battle between the fleets and that winning this battle would win the war (as it had for the Japanese with the Battle of Tsushima against the Russians in 1905), Japanese strategists designed a war plan that focused heavily on putting themselves into a strong position to initate such a decisive battle, chaining back from this all the way to the level of what types of ships to build.

However, this reasoning backfired. The Japanese fixation on concentrating forces for a major battle lead them to ignore elements of the war that could have given them an advantage. For instance, Japan never had a serious anti-commerce raiding strategy on either offense or defense; their submarines were focused on whittling down the enemy fleet in preparation for a final battle and they neglected attacks on US shipping and inadequately defended their own shipping from similar methods.

By contrast, while the United States had begun the war with similar "decisive battle" ideas (these were quite in vogue thanks to Mahan's influence), they were ironically forced to come up with a new strategy following heavy losses at Pearl Harbor. Their "island hopping" strategy focused on building incremental advantages and didn't rely on staging a specific battle until circumstances presented that as the best option - and indeed proved far more effective.

Now, there are of course other factors at work here - the US had very relevant industrial and commerce advantages, for instance - but this does seem a non-toy example where focusing on chaining backwards from a desired end point too far in the future led to serious strategic errors.

Comment by davis_kingsley on "Cheat to Win": Engineering Positive Social Feedback · 2018-02-12T05:38:08.966Z · score: 17 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Good post! That said I personally think engaging with "haters" can be quite valuable. I've had positive interactions with many people despite very rocky beginnings - often, the difference between a hater and a supporter is just a few simple misunderstandings.

Of course, there are some who will just go after you for destructive reasons, and it's good to avoid them. But I think it pays to be careful about writing people off as haters - once you've adopted a policy of not engaging with "haters", it becomes really easy and tempting to write off legitimate critics and thus miss out on relevant information and feedback.

Comment by davis_kingsley on "Backchaining" in Strategy · 2018-02-10T09:31:23.382Z · score: 12 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Hmm, I view those as medium-term goals, where this method can be quite effective - but note even there the threat of lost purposes. Decreasing the defense budget is likely a proxy for another, deeper, goal. If you build an organization and program dedicated to decreasing the defense budget and it turns out that other paths would have been more effective, you may find yourself constrained by the actions you've already taken.

On the other hand, many of the early actions you might take do build up the sort of generalized advantage you might be able to use even if another scenario proves to be more relevant - but once you get far enough on the chain you risk overcommitting to one particular route or subproblem.

"Backchaining" in Strategy

2018-02-09T12:01:54.523Z · score: 45 (16 votes)
Comment by davis_kingsley on Adequacy as Levels of Play · 2018-01-24T16:49:15.515Z · score: 7 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I think the problem with not recognizing speedrunning is less the absurdity heuristic and more just having the wrong information? There are many things that are not "respectable" or "mainstream" but are taken very seriously (many video games, fanfiction, editing certain Wikipedia pages, etc. etc.). My sense is that it's quite possible for an outsider to assess this by checking out fan communities and the like.

Comment by davis_kingsley on Adequacy as Levels of Play · 2018-01-23T20:21:12.946Z · score: 3 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Agreed. The modern Olympics used to mandate amateurism, and while this was originally classist in nature, it evolved into a means of preventing other excesses. (That said, amateurism is now gone from the Olympics for every sport other than wrestling). College sports in the NCAA currently have a weird pseudo-amateurism where student-athletes are not supposed to be compensated for their skills so as to prevent undue focus on athletics, but perks and benefits (of varying degrees of subtlety) are very obviously still present.

Comment by davis_kingsley on Adequacy as Levels of Play · 2018-01-23T00:15:00.626Z · score: 3 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Huh, interesting. I should maybe edit this post with an alternate example, but I think the point more or less stands.

Adequacy as Levels of Play

2018-01-22T20:57:41.557Z · score: 59 (21 votes)
Comment by davis_kingsley on Aliveness · 2018-01-18T19:55:29.559Z · score: 11 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Can I suggest picking a different name for this term? A similar but relevantly different concept exists in martial arts and has been discussed here before.

Levels of Play

2017-12-06T21:55:42.429Z · score: 13 (6 votes)
Comment by davis_kingsley on Speculative rationality skills and appropriable research or anecdote · 2015-07-22T00:42:05.834Z · score: 7 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Disclaimer: I work for CFAR and might well be biased in this response. That said, at CFAR we don't (re)name techniques or exercises in order to obscure what we teach or to try and grow an insular community - we do so to improve comprehension and skill acquisition.

For instance, we used to call our class on implementation intentions "Implementation Intentions", but we changed the name to TAP (Trigger-Action Planning) because that was much more memorable and provided a better handle for people to use the technique. (Compare "I'm going to make a TAP for that" to "I'm going to set up some implementation intentions for that", or "How many TAPs have you set up recently?" to "How many goals have you created sets of implementation intentions for recently?")

In other words, our goal isn't to hide the source of this material - in fact, we explicitly discuss the source material and provide links to relevant research in our workbooks - but rather to aid ease of use and ease of learning.

As for the more general point, CFAR is quite interested in spreading the information that we teach, developing new techniques, and furthering the art and science of rationality.

Several of our alumni have gone on to teach CFAR material to interested folks in their own area. We've provided multiple scholarships to people attending workshops with an explicit goal of taking what we teach and bringing it to underserved communities. We hold an alumni reunion yearly where CFAR staff and alumni share what they've learned and give mini-talks on the latest interesting developments in or promising avenues for rationality training.

I suspect that, if anything, CFAR would like to be doing more to bring this material to a wider audience - there's only so much time in the day, though!