Posts

The Triumph of Humanity Chart 2015-10-26T01:41:06.913Z · score: 23 (28 votes)
Short Story: Quarantine 2015-06-10T01:21:39.617Z · score: 20 (20 votes)
Human Capital Contracts 2015-03-10T01:21:34.679Z · score: 12 (14 votes)
Compartmentalizing: Effective Altruism and Abortion 2015-01-04T23:48:53.591Z · score: 22 (32 votes)
'Effective Altruism' as utilitarian equivocation. 2013-11-24T18:35:58.342Z · score: 1 (30 votes)

Comments

Comment by dias on Open thread, December 7-13, 2015 · 2015-12-08T00:22:18.596Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Unfortunately in writing the article Vox themselves seem to have fallen prey to some of the same stupidity; if you're familiar with Vox's general left-wing sympathies you'll be unsurprised that the examples of stupidity used in the article are overwhelmingly from right-wing sources. If you really want to improve people's thinking, you need to focus on your own tribe at least as much as the enemy tribe.

I previously wrote about this here.

Comment by dias on Crazy Ideas Thread - October 2015 · 2015-10-08T23:10:34.458Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I am bound by many contracts signed by Congress and they didn't even have well-aligned incentives.

Comment by dias on Open thread, Sep. 28 - Oct. 4, 2015 · 2015-10-08T23:09:28.229Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks for the suggestions!

  • My plan was to include a 1-day lag of the independent variable as a control variable in some of the regressions and see what effect that had.

  • Yep, plan to do that, and then also add a 'date' control variable as well.

Comment by dias on Open thread, Oct. 5 - Oct. 11, 2015 · 2015-10-05T23:06:33.942Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

repeat, as I posted at the end of the last Open Thread, probably too late in its life for comments.

I'm planning on running an experiment to test the effects of Modafinil on myself. My plan is to use a three armed study:

  • Modafinil (probably 50mg as I am quite small)
  • B12 pill (as active control) or maybe Vitamin D
  • Passive Control (no placebo)

Each day I will randomly take one of the three options and perform some test. I was thinking of dual-n-back, but do people have any other suggestions?

Comment by dias on Open thread, Sep. 28 - Oct. 4, 2015 · 2015-10-03T21:52:58.075Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I'm planning on running an experiement to test the effects of Modafinil on myself. My plan is to use a three armed study:

  • Modafinil (probably 50mg as I am quite small)
  • B12 pill (as active control) or maybe Vitamin D
  • Passive Control (no placebo)

Each day I will randomly take one of the three options and perform some test. I was thinking of dual-n-back, but do people have any other suggestions?

Comment by dias on The Unfriendly Superintelligence next door · 2015-06-27T21:17:19.601Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

You've misunderstood Jacob's suggestion. Under his system there are no 'claims' - the health insurer simply pays for whatever healthcare it thinks will extend promote your health, up to the value it gets from your prolonged health (presumably around $100k / QALY )

Comment by dias on The Unfriendly Superintelligence next door · 2015-06-27T21:15:33.086Z · score: 0 (6 votes) · LW · GW

The government is incentivised to keep people alive and paying tax, and disincentivised to treat people unnecessarily.

Unfortunately I don't think that's true:

Many Californians - most Californians - are assets. That is: productive citizens, or children who will grow up and become productive citizens. Their place is the left side of the balance sheet. Their presence in California increases California's productive power, and thus its value as a financial asset.

As the King begins the transition from democracy, however, he sees at once that many Californians - certainly millions - are financial liabilities. These are unproductive citizens. Their place on the balance sheet is on the right. To put it crudely, a ten-cent bullet in the nape of each neck would send California's market capitalization soaring - often by a cool million per neck.

And we are just getting started. The ex-subject can then be dissected for his organs. Do you know what organs are worth? This is profit!

If we claim to derive the responsibility of government from mere financial prudence, we must explain why the business strategy of culling unwanted subjects for their organs is not viable. Most would not find this profitable strategy consistent with responsibility. Yet, since a sovereign is sovereign, no higher sovereign can exist to outlaw or preclude it. The design must solve this problem on its own.

source

Comment by dias on Short Story: Quarantine · 2015-06-17T02:34:38.870Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks very much, this is very helpful. I had never heard of the books that I guess it looked like I was writing fanfic for!

Comment by dias on Effectively Less Altruistically Wrong Codex · 2015-06-17T02:30:55.541Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

In a small attempt to help, I cross-post all my high-quality LW-relivant posts to LW.

Comment by dias on Short Story: Quarantine · 2015-06-13T21:08:24.699Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I don't suppose someone who knows lisp (?) could explain the comment someone made on reddit here ? Despite writing the original story, I don't understand their explanation!

Comment by dias on Short Story: Quarantine · 2015-06-10T23:18:15.654Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Good idea; done!

Comment by dias on Stupid Questions May 2015 · 2015-06-10T01:10:48.248Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

in which case you would be begging the question.

No, I am explaining how the appearance of transgender people is consistent with the conservative view: they are simply confused. I am not assuming anything.

Comment by dias on Stupid Questions May 2015 · 2015-05-04T02:14:40.843Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

a counterexample to their existing model of the human condition

I'm not sure how this could be counted as a counterexample to anyone's model. Presumably most people would agree that there are people who are confused about their sexuality. It would only be a counterexample to that model if the student was correct, but whether or not the student is correct is precisely what we are discussing.

If James agreed with the student, this would not be a counterexample to his beliefs, and if he disagrees with the student, it he would not agree that they represented a counterexample to the model.

Comment by dias on Stupid Questions May 2015 · 2015-05-04T02:09:10.623Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

What does it mean to be female? It has to be something such that babies, animals and people in tribal cultures can be classified as female or not. Lets call this property, that baby girls, hens and women in hunter-gatherer tribes share, and baby boys etc. do not, property P. People who identify as female are presumably claiming they have property P, and presumably think this is a substantive claim.

Now, could P be something such that merely believing you had property P, made you have property P? Certainly there are some properties like this:

  • X has P if and only if ( X has two x chromosomes OR X believes ( X has property P ) )

but I think this is clearly unsatisfactory. For example, it would mean that an ordinary young boy who, upon being taught about gender for the first time, was momentarily mistaken and thought he was female, would instantly become female. And it would mean that transwomen were asserting a disjunction of a falsehood and a weird recursive clause.

There are social-role based alternatives, along the lines of

  • X has P if and only if ( X wishes to be treated in the typical manner of people with property P )

but this doesn't work for Tomboys, who wish to be treated broadly like boys but are nonetheless definitely girls. Nor does it work for extreme feminists, who do not wish women (including themselves) to be treated in the typical way women are treated.

Now, whether believing something is sufficient to make it true is of course a separate issue from what is politically prudent of you to say. My guess is that your students would ask you this question have a few motivations:

  • If you say that the map is not the territory, they can safely reject you as an outdated and uncaring reactionary, and will reject what you say on other subjects.
  • If you say that believing things makes them true, they can say "even our ultra-conservative republican lecturer agrees".

My advice to you is to say 'mu'. Ask your students what they mean by female, or why they are asking. Then you can respond in the correct manner according to their definition, pointing out that if they don't like the answer, maybe they didn't really mean that definition.

Comment by dias on Who are your favourite rationalist bloggers? · 2015-04-13T22:54:56.957Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I think of it as outsourcing my RSS feed.

Obviously YMMV; I work in investment.

Comment by dias on Who are your favourite rationalist bloggers? · 2015-04-12T23:40:21.900Z · score: 15 (15 votes) · LW · GW

Gwern

Comment by dias on Who are your favourite rationalist bloggers? · 2015-04-12T23:37:47.094Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Divia (and Will?) 's blog on parenting

Comment by dias on Who are your favourite rationalist bloggers? · 2015-04-12T23:37:12.469Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Marginal Revolution

Comment by dias on Who are your favourite rationalist bloggers? · 2015-04-12T23:36:11.688Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Effective Differentials

Comment by dias on Who are your favourite rationalist bloggers? · 2015-04-12T23:35:49.254Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Carl Shulman

Comment by dias on Who are your favourite rationalist bloggers? · 2015-04-12T23:34:11.685Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Katja Grace's Meteuphoric

Comment by dias on Who are your favourite rationalist bloggers? · 2015-04-12T23:32:58.211Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Preemptive Whitespace

Comment by dias on Initiation Ceremony · 2015-04-12T23:31:58.080Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I like the test. It seems to have multiple levels, each of which Brennan passes:

  • Can you do a simple bayes theorem calculation?
  • Can you resist conformity bias when necessary?
  • Can you spot when you're fed bad data?
Comment by dias on Can You Build a Better Paper Clip? · 2015-04-10T23:06:55.645Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

There are cases like this!

  • There were some people who drilled very straight tunnels and laid fibreoptic cables through them. They knew people were willing to pay a lot for this, but didn't realize it was High-Frequency-Traders wanting a faster connection between Chicago and NYSE.
  • Some producers of intermediate goods see demand fluctuate from month to month, but have little idea why, or whether the fluctuations will persist.
Comment by dias on Open thread, Mar. 23 - Mar. 31, 2015 · 2015-03-25T01:27:01.354Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Do people who passionate argue for buying a home instead of renting violate the Efficient Market Hypothesis?

The explanation for this market inefficiency, as for so many others, is the government. There are massive tax benefits to owner-occupied housing, like the non-taxation of imputed rent. This means that the value of a house to a homeowner exceeds the value to a landlord. This plus the liquidity-constraints of the marginal homebuyer mean that the marginal house is worth more to the marginal homebuyer than he is able to pay for it.

As for whether people are arbitraging this or not? Yes, millions of middle class homebuyers are arb'ing this, saving themselves a huge amount of money.

Comment by dias on Continually-adjusted discounted preferences · 2015-03-25T01:21:27.099Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think so - an important part of Pascal's Mugging is that the demon acts second - you produce a joint probability and utility function, and then he exploits the fact that the former doesn't fall as fast as the latter rises.

Comment by dias on Human Capital Contracts · 2015-03-12T00:36:54.315Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, I meant over adult children. I don't think this has much impact on minors.

Comment by dias on Human Capital Contracts · 2015-03-11T00:38:48.874Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

My pleasure! I love blog page-views.

Comment by dias on Continually-adjusted discounted preferences · 2015-03-11T00:08:29.093Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It also means that discovering the universe is older than we currently expect ould significantly raise the EV of such research. Any probability of non-finite history could cause the EV to blow up.

Comment by dias on Human Capital Contracts · 2015-03-11T00:03:19.634Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Hmm, an interesting combination of arguments!

I'll have to think about rebuttals. My concern is that by explicitly mentioning arguments that I think are silly we give them a certain level of credence. In some cases I've tried to indirectly address them, but maybe I should put more work into that. Alternatively I could write a separate 'Common Objections' article.

I'm really glad to see other people thinking these thoughts, and I would love to figure out how to make this a reality.

Awesome! I don't have much in the way of practical ideas here, beyond talking about it, writing about it, and posting links in high-readership locations.

Comment by dias on Human Capital Contracts · 2015-03-10T23:56:49.903Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, that section is called speculative for a reason!

I guess the attractiveness of this option partly rests on whether you think parents generally have too much or too little influence/incentive/involvement in their children or not.

Comment by dias on Human Capital Contracts · 2015-03-10T23:53:24.335Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I think the same essential abuses that exist with debt exist here, so time-limitation (say equity stops yielding returns after 15-20 years, and can be discharged by bankruptcy) is important.

Yeah, so in the examples I assumed a 20yr duration. Note that student loan debt is currently not able to be discharged through bankruptcy though.

I worry about abuses when the equity stake is high. If you're a mentor, and your investment decides they don't really want to prioritize income maximization, what will you do?

Take a loss? Investors are used to small parts of their portfolio going badly. Obviously they'd prefer this not to happen. (Also you could limit the size of the equity stake).

Would the way to optimize returns involve hiring those you've invested in yourself (or arranging some convenient swap, if such direct employment is forbidden), and perhaps result in a system that looks either nepotistic or like indentured servitude?

My suspicion suggests not. What are the odds that the people who represent the most attractive investment (at current rates) also represent the best employees for your business? In general business in the US has been moving increasingly towards outsourcing over time - for example, few businesses own their property any more - and I would expect this to be the same.

Comment by dias on Human Capital Contracts · 2015-03-10T23:48:16.462Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I basically agree with everything you said.

With regards the race and socio-economic background issue, I agree, only noting that this is similarly an issue for job applications and other financial products. Reality is not race-blind; at some point you have to deal with it, and this is not a special case.

Perhaps it would be easier to do in England (or some other non-US country) for this reason.

Comment by dias on Human Capital Contracts · 2015-03-10T23:45:56.081Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, good point. You could address this through contingencies - have it be part of the contract that you had to carry on in engineering - but I expect investors would simply have to take the hit. This is basically the issue I was talking about in the section on Adverse Selection.

Comment by dias on Human Capital Contracts · 2015-03-10T23:44:42.501Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The expected income of an incoming freshman engineering student versus the expected income of a graduating engineering student are two very different numbers.

Yup, I agree. Incoming freshmen who said they wanted to do engineering might get a slight discount - only a year or two in, once they've passed some courses and actually declared would they get the full discount. I figure this is the sort of thing the market is capable of pricing in.

Comment by dias on Compartmentalizing: Effective Altruism and Abortion · 2015-01-17T02:43:03.273Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Congratulations! You are very unusually virtuous.

Comment by dias on Compartmentalizing: Effective Altruism and Abortion · 2015-01-09T02:06:28.280Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Sure, maybe you think it's not morally obligatory. But EAs who think it's good to give 10% generally think it's better to give 20%, and similarly maybe it is permissible to abort a baby but morally better to not.

Comment by dias on Compartmentalizing: Effective Altruism and Abortion · 2015-01-09T02:04:58.387Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

you would support impregnating every fertile female, voluntarily or forcibly, if you expect this to maximize QALY

No, but that's not what the repugnant conclusion is. The RC is about the desirability of an end-state - highly populous worlds could be very desirable and yet some methods for achieving such worlds still be morally impermissible. There can be side-constraints, to use Nozick's (?) terminology, or other values at stake.

You might find [this article] on population ethics interesting.

Or do you qualify it by saying "maximize the QALYs of everyone who is already alive"?

I think there are many plausible approaches, including a consequentialism-of-rights. I included "maximize the QALYs of everyone who is already alive" because I wanted to show that the argument applied to many different systems, but I do not actually think that system is very plausible.

Then you are back to the definition of when to count fetus as alive,

I agree that many arguments can ultimately be reduced to arguments about the moral status of fetuses - in fact I say so in the OP!

and this is again a Schelling point argument, EA or no EA.

But here I must disagree. It seems plausible that there is actually a fact of the matter whether one has moral value / how much value one has. I don't think this is particularly controversial, except I guess to some anti-realists.

Comment by dias on Compartmentalizing: Effective Altruism and Abortion · 2015-01-09T01:51:26.915Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah there are many cases where the math I did would produce a different answer. But I think this concern at least remains hypothetical.

Comment by dias on Programming-like activities? · 2015-01-08T02:27:07.139Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

pick-pocketing

If you add "socially useful" or "not immoral" obviously this is excluded.

Comment by dias on Compartmentalizing: Effective Altruism and Abortion · 2015-01-08T02:17:17.746Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Your guess would be mistaken! I think I am much more concerned about the autonomy than the average EA, which is a large part of the reason I write the only libertarian effective altruist blog I'm aware of.

But most EAs do not seem to care about autonomy, hence why I pointed out than autonomy arguments, a classic pro-abortion argument, are not available to them.

Meta: I think you may have had a negative reaction to my post because you (perhaps reasonably) pattern-matched me as an ideological opponent, which I think is a (perhaps reasonable) mistake. I think some of my other posts, like this one, this one or this one might be more to your taste.

Comment by dias on Compartmentalizing: Effective Altruism and Abortion · 2015-01-08T02:09:39.177Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yes I deliberately avoided discussing the law for this reason, and to try to keep down the number of open worm-filled cans.

Comment by dias on Compartmentalizing: Effective Altruism and Abortion · 2015-01-08T02:07:34.126Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Full open boarders, although Michelle partly disagreed here, and many have concerns about immigration's effects on domestic policy/crime etc.

Comment by dias on Compartmentalizing: Effective Altruism and Abortion · 2015-01-08T02:00:49.593Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

As someone who's had a very nuanced view of abortion, as well as a recent EA convert who was thinking about writing about this, I'm glad you wrote this. It's probably a better and more well-constructed post than what I would have been able to put together.

Thanks! It took a long time - and was quite stressful. I'm glad you liked it.

The argument in your post though, seems to assume that we have only two options, either to totally ban or not ban all abortion,

I actually deliberately avoided discussing legal issues (ban or not ban) because I felt the purely moral issues were complicated enough already.

Actually, I can imagine that a manner of integrating EA considerations into my old ideas would be to weigh the value of the fetus not only by its "personhood", but also its "potential personhood given moral uncertainty".and its expected QALYs.

Yeah, if you want to do both you need a joint probability distribution, which seemed a little in-depth for this (already very long!) post.

Comment by dias on Compartmentalizing: Effective Altruism and Abortion · 2015-01-08T01:56:25.400Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah I think the repugnant conclusion is not actually very repugnant; it just seems so because of scope insensitivity.

But I would stress that the argument I make doesn't rely on your having a goal of maximizing QALYs. You might assign some credence to other moral views that take a stance on aborting fetuses; deontology, for example, or even just 'maximize the QALYs of everyone who is already alive.'

Comment by dias on Compartmentalizing: Effective Altruism and Abortion · 2015-01-08T01:52:26.451Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

On the other hand we also have to take into account the reduced quality of other people's lives due to the existence of the new person: the resources she will consume, the work required to bring her up.

Yep, but it seems plausible these would be outweighed by the value she will create for others, assuming she eventually gets a job, pays taxes, etc. Assuming you think humanity is net positive value, absent some particular reason to think the child will be negative it seems reasonable to assume she will be positive.

Btw, I think temporal discount is necessary but it's not exponential as naively thought but linear wrt time of Big Bang. I can explain why if it's interesting. The overall utility function has to be bounded (i.e. there is also a spatial discount).

Yes please!

Comment by dias on Compartmentalizing: Effective Altruism and Abortion · 2015-01-08T01:50:03.768Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The physical state of the fetus is not in question; the 'surprising discovery' here would be that an abortion has some quality of badness, one which is not implied by a subjective observer's desires or a full and complete understanding of the physical system.

I think I have two responses:

  • Firstly, I sometimes am convinced to change my mind on moral issues as a result of purely moral arguments. Something like moral uncertainty seems to be at play.
  • I think there's some danger of equivocation with "full and complete understanding of the physical system." Maybe if I knew the position of each atom, and had all the systems-level understanding that would imply, then there would be no moral uncertainty. But it seems possible that I could have a 'full understanding' in the conventional, more banal sense, and also have moral uncertainty, even if some strong version of physicalism is true.
Comment by dias on Compartmentalizing: Effective Altruism and Abortion · 2015-01-08T01:42:34.322Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Else we'd say abstinence is fairly reprehensible, since it also prevents the creation of new people.

Yeah, I realise they're quite related positions. I often feel guilty for not having had children yet.

Can we factor that in?

My guess is that because everything is linear, treating a fetus as being like 0.3-person-weight will give you the same answer as treating them as having 1-person-weight with probability 30%

Comment by dias on Compartmentalizing: Effective Altruism and Abortion · 2015-01-04T23:51:17.363Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

There are a couple of very good comments on the EA forum cross-post, like this, this and this

Comment by dias on How I Lost 100 Pounds Using TDT · 2014-12-29T01:54:36.105Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Great post. You can think of lots of on-going choices like this; whether to be nice to colleagues, for example, or making an effort to drive efficiently in a similar way. Accruals based accounting also gives you similar results, if you can manage the trick of actually assigning some amount of extra weight, unhappiness etc. to each unnecessary food item consumed.