Posts

As Few As Possible 2020-07-10T04:37:08.873Z · score: 1 (5 votes)

Comments

Comment by decius on As Few As Possible · 2020-08-02T06:06:16.819Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Why are you characterizing "contraindicated cancer screening" as "healthcare"? In either case, it's not central to the issue where rural specialists have two-month waits for appointments and four-hour waits from the appointment time.

Comment by decius on As Few As Possible · 2020-07-23T06:42:02.071Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

You said "More healtchare isn't always better".

Can you give a central example about a situation where more people receiving healthcare is worse, and why we should characterize that situation as one where more people receive healthcare?

If the government restricts the supply of meat (and food generally is adequately distributed), then the finite supply of meat makes it positional, and the fact that all needs are being met (within the scope of the example, at least) makes the outcome satisfactory.

If you thought that I intended some element of "maximize production even if all needs have already been met", then we have completely failed to communicate.

Comment by decius on As Few As Possible · 2020-07-15T20:36:22.243Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

You're speaking of meat being a positional good, not a need. If luxury food or cosmetic surgery are easily obtained by everyone who wants them, then they stop being even positional goods.

Making more things universal is a goal that goes beyond the scope of providing basic needs, although the mechanism is rather similar. But it would be inhuman to eliminate the idea of positional goods and status entirely.


It makes no difference whatsoever why the scarcity is created- incompetence, malice, and apathy are all causes of waste. Logistical failures are no more tolerable than intentional genocide of equal total deaths.

Comment by decius on As Few As Possible · 2020-07-10T21:39:43.505Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The number of people killed by scarcity is the measure of scarcity. At least until there's enough that nobody is being killed by it. There's no point in trying thought discussion about whether scarcity changes nature after we stop killing people with it, not until we're a lot closer to that.

Comment by decius on As Few As Possible · 2020-07-10T21:35:45.327Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Food being scarce only because so much is destroyed instead of distributed. While people are starving to death for a lack of enough food at all, it isn't "meat" that is scarce, it is "food".


For a particular person, more medical attention might be harmful, but there's no shortage of examples of cases where people are not getting enough medical care because they can't. Sometimes because they can't afford to, sometimes because doctors simply literally refuse to perform certain procedures.

Comment by decius on As Few As Possible · 2020-07-10T14:47:39.576Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

No, and you failed to comprehend what I was saying as soon as you said "For a given amount of scarcity".

Also, the fewer people die, the less scarcity there was. Pretty much linearly.

Comment by decius on How "honest" is GPT-3? · 2020-07-09T02:49:56.992Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

If the prompt was supposed to be examples of good explanations of puns, I'm sure that we can't agree on what a good explanation of puns looks like. But it appears to treat pun jokes and regular jokes equally. And it understands how to make formulaic jokes, but it's impossible for me to tell if it made any adequate ones or just copied them.

Comment by decius on Poly Domestic Partnerships · 2020-07-03T21:28:11.654Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Most of the questions of law will have to be decided by a judge- not just 'ruled on', actually decided by, unless the legislators clear up the uncertainty.

I don't see any place in Somerville code that defines "family" at all, so many things are insufficiently specified (is 'family' even reflexive?).

Comment by decius on Memory is not about the past · 2020-06-17T19:00:04.099Z · score: 5 (4 votes) · LW · GW

The existence of forgetting is necessary, given recall speed that scales with amount of memories, but the haphazard nature of remembering and also of unbidden recall is not.

A garbage collector that periodically deallocated memory addresses based solely on when they had been accessed, or a CPU cache that randomly fetched memory from addresses associated with system instability, would be horrible design choices compared to the ones that were made for computer memory; biological memory lacks design choices.

Transhumanist 'perfect memory' isn't "perfect recall of everything", it's "ability to chose what to recall" combined with "offsite backup capability".

Comment by decius on Wireless is a trap · 2020-06-08T04:40:57.515Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I understand that there's certainly an information-theoretical security flaw, but if there is an attacker who could gain net value by seeing your mouse activity, you should be in a secure facility that prevents eavesdropping and none of the computers allowed in that area should be allowed to have bluetooth trancievers.

If a given dongle can be spoofed into providing arbitrary HID input (or just arbitrary keystrokes, in addition to mouse movement and clicks), that would be a more serious vulnerability.

Comment by decius on The Stopped Clock Problem · 2020-06-04T19:22:16.031Z · score: 7 (3 votes) · LW · GW

There's also an element of "past performance is not a guarantee of future results". It's possible that someone correctly confidently predicted one thing for exactly the right reasons, and then confidently makes an error in the next thing for almost exactly the right reasons.


Likely, even, because the people who are confident about hard questions are more likely to be overconfident than have superpowers.

Comment by decius on Predicted Land Value Tax: a better tax than an unimproved land value tax · 2020-05-30T13:06:46.560Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

"Undevelopable" does not mean "utterly without use". An area that can't be paved over and built up because it would cause watershed damage might still be usable for grazing cattle. A city block surrounded by blocks that have variances from the building height code is worth less, not worthless.

Comment by decius on Predicted Land Value Tax: a better tax than an unimproved land value tax · 2020-05-30T13:01:02.202Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Suffice it to say that there are epicycles that negate the specific problems that you were pointing at. They almost certainly invoke problems that I'm not capable of identifying.

Comment by decius on Predicted Land Value Tax: a better tax than an unimproved land value tax · 2020-05-28T17:28:09.123Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Bidding on tax bonds would set equally efficient prices on them, since it would be the insurance companies' people bidding on them.

Comment by decius on Predicted Land Value Tax: a better tax than an unimproved land value tax · 2020-05-28T17:26:43.858Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Treasury bonds pay back their principal; deducted improvements would not be added to basis price at the time of sale.

Comment by decius on Predicted Land Value Tax: a better tax than an unimproved land value tax · 2020-05-28T17:23:42.638Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

That's entirely incompatible with the idea of selling the tax liability separately.

Comment by decius on Predicted Land Value Tax: a better tax than an unimproved land value tax · 2020-05-28T00:40:35.163Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

If the insurers go insolvent, does the government default?

I would suggest a system where the government sells bonds linked to specific future tax revenues, and allow a property owner to buy the bond for their own property many years in advance, essentially prepaying the taxes at the current bond rate. If property values and taxes, or even just collections, crash, the bond holders take the loss.

Comment by decius on Predicted Land Value Tax: a better tax than an unimproved land value tax · 2020-05-28T00:31:39.920Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Should undevelopable land adjacent to a formerly rural developed area pay taxes as though it were developed, while giving the developed adjacent land two tax breaks?

Comment by decius on Predicted Land Value Tax: a better tax than an unimproved land value tax · 2020-05-28T00:29:48.309Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW
  • If someone has a lot of wealth stored in land that has been significantly improved, they could bear a larger tax burden than they would be paying under an unimproved land value tax.

I'm not sure why this is considered a weakness, other than the effect is has on incentives; it is easier to offset that effect on incentives than it is to eliminate it.


For example, tax land at its improved value, and allow the cost of any improvements to be deducted against up to half the tax on the land for the entity that made the improvement.

Improved value can be easily determined by market means; either enforce that the owner can always sell at appraised value, or enforce that any buyer can buy at appraised value. I prefer the option where the current owner determines if they will sell, but I can see an argument for letting the current owner determine the value on which they will be taxed, instead.

Comment by decius on Settle Investment Trades Only Daily an improvement? True or False · 2020-05-21T04:43:06.165Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, other orders which are conditional on the price can also result in the market clearing price being undefined.

How do you determine what price to trade at? Is it the market clearing price with lowest/highest volume?

I don't see how you've explained how batching transactions is positive-sum; would it reduce transaction costs? Would it somehow provide net benefit to both buyers and sellers as compared to executing trades as they can be, rather than randomly benefiting some buyers at identical cost to the sellers?


Would the magic surplus be greater if trades were only executed quarterly, or if they were executed hourly- why daily, and not more or less frequently? It's certainly a solid Schelling point, but the math doesn't care about when NYC wakes and sleeps.

Comment by decius on Settle Investment Trades Only Daily an improvement? True or False · 2020-05-16T11:38:28.501Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

If the end-of-day price is above my bid or below my ask, the stock couldn't trade, and the transaction never happens. For that reason there is a moderate incentive not to trade FCOJ futures right before the crop report is revealed, because your offers will have to stand but other parties can wait until after the news is out in order to meet them, and the future actors have an insurmountable information advantage.

It also results in some stop-loss order situations being metaconsistent; the trade price is below the stop-loss trigger point IFF the stop-losses trigger, resulting in multiple market clearing prices.

Comment by decius on Zoom Technologies, Inc. vs. the Efficient Markets Hypothesis · 2020-05-11T23:58:28.785Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Sometimes the market is wrong but the barrier to competition is so high that if you try to take advantage of it you run of money.

Comment by decius on Really Fresh Baking · 2020-05-11T23:48:40.081Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

In my experience, cafeterias are more likely trying to be inoffensive to everybody than to be trying to reduce costs, and in any case their costs per person are lower than the per-person costs of preparing comparable food at most, if not all, qualities of food.

The line between cafeteria and buffet restaurant isn't perfectly defined, and I think that there are already businesses that operate on a cash-per-eater basis that are substantially high-end cafeterias. Shifting to a pay-per-month basis for them seems plausible, but I'm not sure if they get the price per day down to commercially viable levels without sacrificing quality.

I think a tech office cafeteria is going to have a disadvantage in that it is going to provide mostly one real meal per day while also being required to provide snacks and beverages throughout the day, but it might have sufficient funding to be an interesting example.

To test the concept properly I'd want to have a cafeteria located near (within a short walk during lunch break) some (tech?) office buildings that offered monthly memberships as well as daily sales. A company-owned cafeteria for employee use is going to have illegible, although likely higher, value/cost.

Comment by decius on Settle Investment Trades Only Daily an improvement? True or False · 2020-05-11T23:15:08.402Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Daily seems arbitrary, at least as compared to hourly and weekly settling. Hourly settling would seem to provide the same fairness to small investors while still allowing the market to transact during the entire day, instead of only once per day.

If responding to new information during the day is not desired, then less frequent settling is indicated.

Comment by decius on AlphaGo Zero and the Foom Debate · 2020-05-11T10:35:19.302Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Human architecture means that the best humans do not always lose to Alphago, even with their massively inferior computational resources.

Comment by decius on Really Fresh Baking · 2020-05-11T03:52:27.642Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Many meals have prep work which scales extremely well, but are incompatible with small sizes.

A way to take advantage of such a property would be to have a central facility produce lots of high-quality meals for lots of people, serving them hot and fresh at the appropriate time.

Having invented the cafeteria/mess hall model of dining, the problem is in implementing such a result over a large enough scale to be viable. That scale is going to be roughly the number of people that will eat a batch of bread in a sitting while it is still hot and fresh, where the batch size is near the capacity of one person.

Solving the schedule problem and having enough people share mealtimes to make that worthwhile seems difficult on the 10-50 person range, but might get easier above 100 (since the serving window must be longer, so the batches can be timed to be ready at intervals during that window with little extra effort; putting a couple trays of cookie into the oven every 10 minutes is reasonable if you have 10 trays and a 1-hour serving window; having a 1-hour serving window for hot cookies is unreasonable if you are only making a couple dozen.)

Comment by decius on Generalized Efficient Markets and Academia · 2020-05-04T22:25:34.828Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, and to fit the lawsuit against the manufacturer of a faulty microwave or the journal retracting a flawed paper into GEM requires adding epicycles.

Comment by decius on Stop saying wrong things · 2020-05-04T11:30:33.761Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I think you've correctly identified that lots of people believe themselves when they say lots of wrong things, and did a fair job of explaining one part of the ways to reduce that error.

A different alternative worth considering is summarized by "Say enough wrong things that you know for sure that most of them are wrong." In practical terms that means developing three or more mutually contradictory plausible-sounding reasons for what and why. From there, instead of sharing them in a manner where politeness requires that they not be challenged, share them in a manner where politeness requires that they do be challenged, by insisting that most of them are wrong.

It's certainly more difficult, but I think it's better to say a thousand things, 1% of which are right (and know that 99% of them are wrong), then to say three things, two of which are right (even knowing that one of them is likely to be wrong). Say as many wrong things as you can afford to, because if you can't tell the wrong from the right without saying.

Comment by decius on Does the 14-month vaccine safety test make sense for COVID-19? · 2020-05-04T09:44:49.655Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I believe so, but I lack the requisite domain-specific knowledge to extract it, or even to evaluate those reasons once they have been extracted.

The thing about the size of the federal government is that there was a team of people with domain-specific knowledge integrating and responsive to public comments and suggestions from people with and without domain-specific knowledge. Their records *ARE* available, if you can figure out what to ask for.

The general summary is probably fairly accurate, but it would be a major error to think that the actual policy was strictly to highly optimize for the fairly accurate summary.

Comment by decius on Generalized Efficient Markets and Academia · 2020-05-04T09:31:30.624Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

No, and yes.

For mousetraps, it has the implicit problems with ignoring the effects of marketing on customer decision.

For academic theories, it has the implicit problem where the *consumers* (the scientific community, which is presented with multiple theories and forms a consensus around zero or more of them) is being misstated as the producer.

You can get paid for seeing an error in someone's mousetrap design and making a design that lacks that error, even if the error is "bad marketing". You can't get paid for seeing an error in a mousetrap buyer, especially if that error is "ignores the exemplary marketing or otherwise makes decisions based on the wrong factors".

Academia pays in prestige, but it doesn't pay in prestige for "doesn't join or change the consensus"; it pays a little bit to join the consensus and a fair bit more for publishing results that change the consensus, but joining it is much easier than changing it.

Comment by decius on Generalized Efficient Markets and Academia · 2020-05-04T09:22:49.243Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yes. That is a limitation of the model.

No, it's mot *my* model.

But within the model, marketing is one of the factors that determines the quality of a mousetrap.

Comment by decius on How to evaluate (50%) predictions · 2020-05-03T04:08:14.040Z · score: 8 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Phrase your predictions in the manner such that if you said "I bet [statement] at the odds implied by N% certainty", there would be more money bet against you than money offered at better odds.

Comment by decius on Does the 14-month vaccine safety test make sense for COVID-19? · 2020-05-03T03:12:49.221Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The odds that there's some serious side effect that isn't extinction-level are many orders of magnitude higher, and the approval system was made in advance with the full knowledge and careful consideration of the potential of epidemics.

Comment by decius on Generalized Efficient Markets and Academia · 2020-05-03T03:09:57.444Z · score: 2 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, GEM does not permit there to be money on the ground. It's one of the limitations of the model.

Which is a great reason to not use it to model situations where there is money on the ground.

Comment by decius on Generalized Efficient Markets and Academia · 2020-05-03T03:07:59.892Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

There's no way to profit off of people preferring to buy mousetraps that are lest effective at trapping mice because, in that framing, the best mousetrap is *not* the one that is most effective at trapping mice.

You also can't profit off of people buying fake 0-day exploits, unless you're selling the best 0-days.

Comment by decius on Why anything that can be for-profit, should be · 2020-05-03T03:04:37.153Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Naive algorithmic anything-optimization will not make those subtle trade-offs. Metric maximization run on humans is already a major failure point of large businesses, and the best an AI that uses metrics can do is draw awareness to the fact that the metrics that don't start out bad become bad over time.

Comment by decius on Why anything that can be for-profit, should be · 2020-05-03T03:01:36.943Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

e.g. microprocessor research, psychology as applied to advertising.

Comment by decius on Generalized Efficient Markets and Academia · 2020-05-01T02:14:06.041Z · score: 2 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Within the constraints of GEM, a 'better mousetrap' is one that customers agree is better.


The best theory isn't the one that most accurately predicts reality, it's the one that the academics agree is best.

Just as situations change and the best mousetrap for securing a clay granary is not the best mousetrap for a nursery, the best theory is not constant over time- but when a new theory becomes best, it is coincident with it becoming the academic standard.

Comment by decius on Why anything that can be for-profit, should be · 2020-04-30T03:22:07.508Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

There's a middle ground between having an organization be profitable, and an organization optimizing for profitability.

Comment by decius on Why anything that can be for-profit, should be · 2020-04-30T03:21:14.212Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I'll go one step further: Anything that can be a for-profit loop already is.

> a product to certain beneficiaries, whether clean water for poor rural areas, or a non-rival good such as research for the world at large.

If those rural areas would be able to purchase clean water, or a way of producing their own clean water, in a manner profitable to investors in the rural water service area, they would.

Where the world at large pays for research results, those fields are privately funded.

Comment by decius on What's Hard About Long Tails? · 2020-04-23T22:05:00.227Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

> If anything, the problem is worse, because now the company has eliminated most of the “warning bells” - the more-frequent fires which are big but not disastrous.



Why would preventing small fires, which are qualitatively different from and causally unrelated to supervolcano eruptions, eliminate any of the "warning bells" suggesting that supervolcano eruptions are a thing?


"Ignoring breakdowns of the model" means the same thing as "using the model where it is useless"; that can serve an illustrative purpose, but it means that in order to apply that metaphor to something real, you must first demonstrate that the negative impact of that thing /actually/ follows the behavior of the power law even for very large N; you can't just observe it for small N and extrapolate.

For example, insurance companies have a hard cap on liability. If every policy they have outstanding is filed for the policy limit, there is no additional source of liability to be had- their tail actually has a hard cutoff. That still allows actual claims to exactly match a power law for all observed cases.

Comment by decius on Conflict vs. mistake in non-zero-sum games · 2020-04-23T21:52:54.254Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I was speaking of inequality generally, not specifically housing inequality.

The entire point was a cheap shot at people who think that inequality is inherently bad, like suggesting destroying all the value to eliminate all the inequality.

Comment by decius on Does the 14-month vaccine safety test make sense for COVID-19? · 2020-04-22T23:01:05.893Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

There's a very tiny percentage chance that there's a completely unexpected long-term complication. Widespread distribution and vaccination with such a complication could be extinction-level.

Comment by decius on Don't Use Facebook Blocking · 2020-04-22T22:35:25.169Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Having a high-drama discussion fully public violates a heuristic of "don't air your dirty laundry in public", and I don't understand that heuristic enough to advocate it.

Comment by decius on Holiday Pitch: Reflecting on Covid and Connection · 2020-04-22T22:02:11.667Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW
those who are emotionally central to you, no matter the distance

I suspect that it would be better to build a norm of "People who are physically distant from you and important", because there will be social pressure (even unintentional) from people who are physically nearby to be declared 'most important', and a norm of preferring to include distant people partially counters that.

Comment by decius on The Hammer and the Mask - A call to action · 2020-04-22T21:27:35.199Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It looks like an exhaust port that incorporated a heat sink and moisture separator is plausibly more effective at preventing pathogen escape, but it has to be high-volume enough to pass a sneeze without it blowing out along the face.

Comment by decius on The Hammer and the Mask - A call to action · 2020-04-22T21:15:52.000Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

And, as I've said above, I think that it's not sufficiently safe to assume that they inactivate within seconds of drying out.

Comment by decius on Don't Use Facebook Blocking · 2020-04-22T21:14:36.831Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Publicly visible posts seem like the exception rather than the rule, and it seems odd to anticipate that people will regularly take steps to observe comments by people that they have blocked.

Comment by decius on Don't Use Facebook Blocking · 2020-04-22T21:12:16.289Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

As I understand the mechanics, people who block a lot of people are equal to people who have been blocked by a lot of people, in terms of what they can see in such a discussion.

Comment by decius on Conflict vs. mistake in non-zero-sum games · 2020-04-22T21:08:29.794Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Preventing development limits the increase in desirability, which reduces market clearing price.

It's more negative for the rich than for the poor, and as such reduces inequality.