## Posts

Comment by Dirichlet-to-Neumann on Don't feel bad about not knowing basic things · 2021-06-07T09:22:10.246Z · LW · GW

It was, a little. Truth is I know the basic definition but I've yet to build up enough knowledge and intuition around them to really use them in my research. Thinks analytic vs bounded semigroup, L^\infty calculus, angular sectors and so on.

Comment by Dirichlet-to-Neumann on What's your peace plan? · 2021-05-28T14:01:45.996Z · LW · GW

The Holy Sepulchre has been administered by a Muslim family for centuries because the Ottomans empire was fed up with the different Christian denominations endless fights to pray in the sanctuary.

Comment by Dirichlet-to-Neumann on What's your peace plan? · 2021-05-27T20:29:12.682Z · LW · GW

"I don't know to what degree this represents their current views of Hamas. But whatever Israeli Jews think of Fatah, I believe they would much rather see Fatah in control of Palestine than Hamas. Any external organization facilitating negotiations would be wise to account for this. "

That's probably part of the problem too. If I remember correctly Hamas won the elections a decade or so ago and Israel+the Western governments helped Fatah to stay in power... meaning that right now there is not even a real government to negotiate with.

Comment by Dirichlet-to-Neumann on What's your peace plan? · 2021-05-27T20:24:49.190Z · LW · GW

It's exactly the problem, and the fact that the Hamas started the war just as Netanyahu was losing his grip to power is highly unlikely to be a coincidence.

The fact that Israel lead the best vaccine effort in the world but refused the easy PR move to give vaccine to Palestine is also significant.

Comment by Dirichlet-to-Neumann on [Prediction] What war between the USA and China would look like in 2050 · 2021-05-26T11:47:39.426Z · LW · GW

I'm not sure the victims of, say, Pinochet really appreciate the "we are not expansionist, we are just helping overthrow your democratically elected government in order to maintain our influence on your county's international and economic policy." defense.

Comment by Dirichlet-to-Neumann on [Prediction] What war between the USA and China would look like in 2050 · 2021-05-26T09:32:21.190Z · LW · GW

A few selected thoughts :

1. The number on the US invasion of Afghanistan may explain why it was such a failure. With 10^6 soldiers instead of 10^5 they would probably have been able to really secure the country.
2. I think a protracted war is unlikely because I expect the US to just give up on Taiwan.
3. Expansionism is something that grows on you. After China invades Taiwan, I guess they may become interested in securing some form of control over say Singapore, or Vietnam. The fact that they are not expansionist now does not mean they will not be expansionist then.
4. I think a Chinese invasion of Taiwan is likely to happen way before 2050.
Comment by Dirichlet-to-Neumann on Sherrinford's Shortform · 2021-05-25T14:30:40.165Z · LW · GW

My model is that what is called "left of center" in the USA is "far right, at least economically"* in Europe (and what the USA call "socialism" is "what everyone agrees with".

*"economically" does a fair bit of work here - on issues like immigration for example the left right divide is the same as in the US.

Comment by Dirichlet-to-Neumann on Don't feel bad about not knowing basic things · 2021-05-24T17:23:10.276Z · LW · GW

That's a good layman description - a semi group is basically the exponential of some linear operator. The problem is that I'm supposed to be a bit more than a layman.

Comment by Dirichlet-to-Neumann on Don't feel bad about not knowing basic things · 2021-05-24T11:55:10.737Z · LW · GW

I'm three years into my PhD. Still don't really understand what a semi-group is (something something exponential). I can't remember the formula for the exposants in Sobolev inequality but here it is just my fault for never learning it correctly.

Comment by Dirichlet-to-Neumann on What will 2040 probably look like assuming no singularity? · 2021-05-22T09:48:38.699Z · LW · GW

True but putting them in Northern part of the world may also be a good idea. Right now looking for example at Google's data centers map there seems to be a very small trend toward northern locations (at least in Europe), but it may just be a flux due to local financial incentives being more favorable in some countries.

Comment by Dirichlet-to-Neumann on What will 2040 probably look like assuming no singularity? · 2021-05-18T19:27:08.418Z · LW · GW

I'm saying a war between China and the USA is a possible scenario (with <50% but >10% probability). The intensity of destruction would depend on how the war is fought, but conditionally on a drawn out war nuclear mutual destruction does not seem implausible to me.

It's hopefully not the only scenario that prevent singularity though.

Comment by Dirichlet-to-Neumann on What will 2040 probably look like assuming no singularity? · 2021-05-18T19:23:11.869Z · LW · GW

Well it was mostly meant as a joke. But here are my probabilities.
- China occupies Taiwan 90% - this is clearly a mid term goal of the current Chinese government.
- The USA defend Taiwan 30% (maybe 50% if the invasion happens in the near future). The USA may or may not hold their defense agreement - I think the later the invasion happens, the more likely it is that the USA just let Taiwan be invaded.

The war could be a quick win for China (they have home advantage). If it keep going for a few years, I still think China will win (the coronavirus crisis is strong evidence that western democracies in general would not be able to adapt quickly to an existential crisis). But a long wars would mean heavy destruction of infrastructure, and would surely increase dramatically the chances of a nuclear war.
I'd say something like 30% chances of a nuclear war, conditional on a drawn out war between the two superpower ?

Comment by Dirichlet-to-Neumann on What will 2040 probably look like assuming no singularity? · 2021-05-18T19:11:22.374Z · LW · GW

Is refrigeration a big part of data centers energy costs ? This would mean the best places for solar energy are also the worst places for data centers...

Comment by Dirichlet-to-Neumann on What will 2040 probably look like assuming no singularity? · 2021-05-18T12:50:34.133Z · LW · GW

An all out war between China and the USA over Taiwan has crippled the whole world.
Good news is AI alignment is not an issue anymore.

Comment by Dirichlet-to-Neumann on Why Democracy? · 2021-05-14T22:34:47.098Z · LW · GW

There are many different ways to look at democracy - one important historical point of view is that the point of democracy is not really to allow coordination to implement policies, but rather to make it impossible to coordinate to implement (unwanted) policies. It's not a bug, it's a feature !
In this sense democracy is not really defined by itself, but rather in opposition to what it is not (i.e. some kind of dictature).

An other interesting point of view (probably historically the first) comes from Aristotle. I'll try to explain it but I'm not an expert on classical political philosophy and English is not my native language so feel free to correct/add clarifications.
The main idea is that what makes humans different from animals is their capacity to engage in political activities (note that political here has a slightly different sense than it has today, both more and less restrictive). A democratic society is simply one where citizen can reach the perfection of their humanity by engaging in political action (which is not restricted to voting, campaigning and wielding power - a conversation about politic at a bar is political action in this sense).

What I think is most interesting in both these viewpoints is that they don't make claim on the efficiency of democracy as a coordination mechanism - in fact, they don't care about efficiency and coordination at all.

Comment by Dirichlet-to-Neumann on Your Dog is Even Smarter Than You Think · 2021-05-07T09:10:10.524Z · LW · GW

If that were the case, don't you think that animals that actually run faster than humans in dense forest would be more intelligent ?

Comment by Dirichlet-to-Neumann on Sexual Dimorphism in Yudkowsky's Sequences, in Relation to My Gender Problems · 2021-05-06T09:49:53.332Z · LW · GW

I doubt this factor is really significant. A quick google search only yielded results for breast cancers, and glancing over at the abstracts I'm skeptical those studies are strong enough to prove a real effect for size (they seem to find an effect for BMI, but BMI affect more than just the number of cells in the body so it is not really significant for our discussion).

Also in the context of health benefit associated with transition this is irrelevant because transitioning will not change your body size...

Comment by Dirichlet-to-Neumann on Sexual Dimorphism in Yudkowsky's Sequences, in Relation to My Gender Problems · 2021-05-06T09:42:30.656Z · LW · GW

Cancer and heart disease kill most people but kill mainly old people, so their impact on life expectancy is less significant per death than suicide or unintended injuries.

I don't have stats but the link you give seems to be supporting my point : suicide and unintentional injuries amount to 10% of males death and at most 5% of female deaths.
Quick back of the envelope calculation : assuming average age of death by suicide/accident for males is 30, while "all other causes" average age of death is 80, you'd get a life expectation of $0.9\times 80 + 0.1\times 30= 75$ for males and  $0,95\times 80+0,05\times 30=77,5$ for females.
You can play around with the number a bit, but the crux is that younger deaths weight a lot in the average and men tends to die a lot more at a young age due to suicide and riskier activities.

I'm totally not going to look for the relevant stats because I have papers to grade, but my prior is also that men are also more susceptible to heart diseases/cancers in part due to lifestyle choices (ie, eating more meat, smoking, drinking...).

I think lifestyle factors account for most of the difference, and that even if it not all the difference, the health risk associated with sex transition should outweigh any potential gains (I'm also very skeptical that hormone treatment+surgery could really help since they would not affect your basic genetic profile).

(note that this discussion is only valid in the framework of longevity - I'm not discussing the short term potential benefits of transitioning in term of mental health).

Comment by Dirichlet-to-Neumann on Sexual Dimorphism in Yudkowsky's Sequences, in Relation to My Gender Problems · 2021-05-05T10:21:59.151Z · LW · GW

A big part of the difference comes from human males taking part in riskier activities, having a higher suicide rate and generally a less healthy lifestyle. Those are statistically significant differences, but they don't affect individual person. If you are a male, do some reasonable physical exercise and have good food habit while avoiding things that are obviously risky, a big part of the difference vannishes.

Comment by Dirichlet-to-Neumann on What books are for: a response to "Why books don't work." · 2021-04-23T13:39:25.278Z · LW · GW

Books are best seen as a way to keep knowledge than a way to share it. Well, that's what they were designed for (that's what writing is for in fact).

Comment by Dirichlet-to-Neumann on Recently I bought a new laptop · 2021-04-10T21:22:16.101Z · LW · GW

I'd write the conclusion a bit differently : "So thank you to all the people who pick laptops from the top of a spreadsheet and use legible metrics of laptop picking to keep manufacturers honest so I can just go to the computer store nearest to me, buy whatever they advise me, and still end up with something pretty good.

i'm pretty sure I'm the one free-riding here.

Comment by Dirichlet-to-Neumann on Covid 4/9: Another Vaccine Passport Objection · 2021-04-10T10:27:28.639Z · LW · GW

Did you have a look at the https://covidtracker.fr/covidtracker-world/ project ? It does not give the amount of details you used to have for the USA (as it is a French site) but it seems to do what you want country by country.

Comment by Dirichlet-to-Neumann on The Holy Algorithm · 2021-04-10T10:25:06.363Z · LW · GW

In practice it's pretty unlikely (I actually had a look at it recently when I was looking for years where both the feast of St Joseph and the Annunciation fall during the Holy Week and must be pushed back to after Easter).

Comment by Dirichlet-to-Neumann on The Holy Algorithm · 2021-04-05T08:33:28.706Z · LW · GW

Main problem seems to be that the Orthodox church, seeing that the sun was agreeing with the pope, proceeded to declare the sun to be heretic and anathema and to keep its traditional computation.

But the "WCoC" and "simple" solutions seems to be better Schelling points that "do as Catholic do cause the pope has the biggest hat".

Comment by Dirichlet-to-Neumann on The Holy Algorithm · 2021-04-05T08:30:08.224Z · LW · GW

As far as I am aware the computation is in fact a rather simple "first Sunday after the first full moon after the Spring equinox" for the Catholic church, so anybody can just look at the sky and compute the date.

Comment by Dirichlet-to-Neumann on A use for Classical AI -- Expert Systems · 2021-03-31T07:48:30.672Z · LW · GW

First question : have you any experience in teaching ? People who don't tend to underestimate badly how hard teaching is and how rare true self-teacher are.

It's not a simple case of giving an answer, and giving a more detailed answer if the student does not understand. You need an adaptability that seems to be outside the reach of AI right now (emphasis "now"), as the exact same answer will be luminous for one student and completely obscure for an other. Besides teaching has a lot to do with transmitting tacit knowledge that is not easily shared through text or videos.

And you also have to take into account that for most student the main motivation to learn is a mixture of carrot/stick grades and something that comes from the personal relation with the teacher in a way that an online experience will not be able to replicate.

Comment by Dirichlet-to-Neumann on Bureaucracy is a world of magic · 2021-03-30T15:34:06.888Z · LW · GW

The crux is that you must be annoying but in a sweet, non-threatening kind of way, over wise your interlocutor may switch to actively against you.

Comment by Dirichlet-to-Neumann on Bureaucracy is a world of magic · 2021-03-30T13:18:40.160Z · LW · GW

I'm currently applying for short-term position at my university in France. There are 15 identical positions open for the next year, but for some reason I need to fill in (the exact same) documents individually for each of those positions. Pretty fun...

On a more serious note, my experience with administration and bureaucracy has been that going to the office in person, being very polite, saying abundantly that you are sorry to cause a disturbance, and making clear that you won't leave until your problem is fixed do wonders. After 30min of you saying "I understand that I'm asking for something I've no right to, but could you pretty please do it nonetheless, even the most rule-loving employee will either cave in to your demand or send you to someone with actual power of fixing thing.

Comment by Dirichlet-to-Neumann on Bureaucracy is a world of magic · 2021-03-30T13:11:34.691Z · LW · GW

There seem to be a lot more identity theft online than in real life, so my prior is that identity theft is either easier or more rewarding when done through computers...

Comment by Dirichlet-to-Neumann on Covid 3/25: Own Goals · 2021-03-30T08:52:13.746Z · LW · GW

I'm a bit late with this but I think the French site https://covidtracker.fr/ should have everything you want in term of Covid data. It has a focus on France but also gives data for other countries (and the "World" page is in English).

Comment by Dirichlet-to-Neumann on Covid 3/18: An Expected Quantity of Blood Clots · 2021-03-18T17:18:44.745Z · LW · GW

France's government was nicely explicit in their handling of the AstraZeneca stupid crisis. They basically said "We don't want to stop distributing it but Germany has stopped so we have to stop too".

Also government officials and ministers have made public, non-ironinc comment like "Macron is now as good as epidemiologists".

Comment by Dirichlet-to-Neumann on Fun with +12 OOMs of Compute · 2021-03-06T23:05:21.033Z · LW · GW

The crystal nights story is pretty good but it stabbed my willing suspension of disbelief right in whatever is its vital organ when the Phites casually and instantly begin manipulating matter in the outside world at the speed of their simulation. Real physical experimentation has a lot of trial-and-error processes as you try to get your parameters to the optimal position - no amount of a priori explicit knowledge will enable you to avoid slowly building up your tacit knowledge.

Comment by Dirichlet-to-Neumann on I'm still mystified by the Born rule · 2021-03-06T21:40:42.323Z · LW · GW

I'll add to what you said in your main comment and the one below that the $L^2$ norm is also the build-in norm of human beings (and arguably all animals), as we evaluate distances in $R^3$ in the Euclidean norm (of which the $L^2$ norm is a generalisation) rather than the $L^1$ or $L^\infty$ norms.
The \$L^2 norm also seems to be the norm of the physical world - Newton's laws for example use the Euclidean norm.

Comment by Dirichlet-to-Neumann on Anna and Oliver discuss Children and X-Risk · 2021-02-27T21:36:43.749Z · LW · GW

When getting married meant "having a wife that would take care of you so you can focus on your works" or even "get a big fortune/political power from your wife" it was certainly beneficial for ambitious or want-to-be world changing MEN to get married. For women it was pretty different, and as a matter of fact the (rare) examples of women I know who were hugely influential before the 20th century often went unmarried (think Sophie Germain, Maria Gaetana Agnesi, Hypatia, or Johan of Arc, Catherine of Sienna...).

For women holding positions of power, a general trend seems to be that they held power either as a regent for an absent husband or underage child, or if holding the power in their own name kept unmarried. Elisabeth I of England is an obvious example.

Comment by Dirichlet-to-Neumann on Anna and Oliver discuss Children and X-Risk · 2021-02-26T13:26:03.737Z · LW · GW

Depending on your evaluation of AI timelines, children of AI-conscious parents have a much higher chance of being AI-conscious, so consider having kids a long-term investment in AI research...

Comment by Dirichlet-to-Neumann on Media Bias · 2021-02-22T22:09:17.092Z · LW · GW

I'm French, and although I know quite a bit about the French press (as my father happens to be a journalist), I know next to nothing about press outside France.

So here are my two cents about media economy, from a French perspective.

1) In France, most media outlets are subsidized by the government. This is at least one way to give them a bit of financial slack that they can (hopefully) use for quality journalism (unlikely, but still more likely than in a full on competition for the fittest meme to sell). Generally, the most financial slack newspaper have the more they can let their journalist do their job conscientiously...

2) The Canard Enchainé (Chained Duck) is a French journal which does not rely much on official sources. Mostly because their reputation allows them to get unofficial sources very easily. They are very good at what they do, which is uncovering scandals, frauds, corruption and general silliness involving politicians and businesses. And they seem to do very well financially, mostly because their reputation allows information to come to them spontaneously. They are not exempt of selective reporting, but as their business model is mainly to laugh at/denounce politicians, they target everybody relatively fairly.

Comment by Dirichlet-to-Neumann on Notes on Amiability · 2021-02-16T09:52:24.046Z · LW · GW

My reading of this comes mainly from MacIntyre to be honest (and a bit of Allan Bloom too).

Comment by Dirichlet-to-Neumann on Notes on Amiability · 2021-02-15T21:55:57.139Z · LW · GW

I don't have time to read your post seriously today*, so I apologise if I'm a bit redundant, but I just wanted to use this occasion to praise Jane Austen.

Amiability is the main virtue in Jane Austen books - in fact one could say that Austen's novel are mainly about (the difference between) agreeableness and amiability. Fanny Price and Anne Elliot exemplify amiability ;  Wickham, Mary and Henri Crawford exemplify agreeableness without amiability. Other characters like Emma or Elisabeth Bennet must learn to distinguish between agreeableness and amiability.

As I understand it, the main difference is that agreeableness is the ability to make other like you, while amiability is the virtue that makes you worthy of being liked (in this sense amiability holds in Jane Austen works a position quite similar to charity in Christian philosophy).

One consequence of this distinction is that you should try to associate with people who are really amiable rather than just agreeable, as you will learn amiability by imitation and emulation.

*I plan to do it in a few days, I like your posts ;)

Comment by Dirichlet-to-Neumann on How Should We Respond to Cade Metz? · 2021-02-13T18:41:41.546Z · LW · GW

Too bad. I think it is a fine mechanism to keep newspapers honest.

Comment by Dirichlet-to-Neumann on How Should We Respond to Cade Metz? · 2021-02-13T18:19:31.412Z · LW · GW

Does an "right of answer" exist in the American press ?

In France, if you think a newspaper article has damaged your reputation/framed you in a wrong way/distorted the truth about you, you get a "right of answer" which allows you to write a short piece to be published in the next edition of the newspaper where you can discuss your point of view. I think Scott should use it if something similar exists in the USA...

Comment by Dirichlet-to-Neumann on How Should We Respond to Cade Metz? · 2021-02-13T18:04:56.243Z · LW · GW

Yeah, they did not even tried to discuss what could make it attractive in the first place, too busy looking for trace of sexism, racism and stuff.

Comment by Dirichlet-to-Neumann on How Should We Respond to Cade Metz? · 2021-02-13T17:38:55.547Z · LW · GW

Comment by Dirichlet-to-Neumann on The Story of the Reichstag · 2021-02-09T22:51:35.862Z · LW · GW

To be more precise, in a Girardian sense Germany and France where able to reconcile thanks to using the Nazis/Pétain as scapegoats. Hence the factually dubious but politically crucial discourse of both De Gaulle and Adenauer after the war ("Nazis where a minority, Germans where only following out of fear, they didn't know about the Holocaust" and "from the beginning everybody in France was supporting De Gaulle"). This allowed both countries to cast their culpability away while still accepting that their governments did evil things, and for German to consider the defeat as a liberation. In Japan, the only condition of the capitulation was that the Emperor would stay on the throne. This made it impossible to operate the same scapegoating and this is why Japan has such an ambiguous attitude toward the war (plus the atomic bombs gave them a very good reason to present themselves as victims, even if the destructions at Hiroshima and Nagasaki where not really different from classical bombings such as Tokyo or Dresden).

Comment by Dirichlet-to-Neumann on Killing the ants · 2021-02-09T22:43:04.693Z · LW · GW

Yes it does, as they are future moral agent. To be precise, I think that the potentiality to be a moral agent is enough, so babies (even unborn) and cryonic patients are covered. (in fact if one particular animal showed sign of being a moral agent, that would be enough for me to grant the status to its whole species).

Comment by Dirichlet-to-Neumann on Don’t Fear The Filter · 2021-02-08T17:54:51.617Z · LW · GW

What are you talking about ? What has quantum computing to do with faster than light travel ?

Entangled particle "communicate with each other instantly", but the no-communication theorem is a well known result in quantum mechanic (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No-communication_theorem) that shows that entanglement can not be used to transmit information (i.e. messages or matter) faster than light.

Comment by Dirichlet-to-Neumann on Don’t Fear The Filter · 2021-02-08T15:16:58.688Z · LW · GW

As far as I am aware entanglement does not violate Einstein's rule, as no information is transmitted between entangled particles - you can not use entanglement to transmit information faster than light. So no "quantum teleportation" is possible (and anyway entanglement requires the actual particles to travel and they can not do this faster than light either).

Comment by Dirichlet-to-Neumann on Don’t Fear The Filter · 2021-02-08T15:16:32.392Z · LW · GW

As far as I am aware entanglement does not violate Einstein's rule, as no information is transmitted between entangled particles - you can not use entanglement to transmit information faster than light. So no "quantum teleportation" is possible (and anyway entanglement requires the actual particles to travel and they can not do this faster than light either).

Comment by Dirichlet-to-Neumann on Don’t Fear The Filter · 2021-02-08T14:29:48.450Z · LW · GW

I'm not sure I understand exactly what you say, but given my understanding of current physics the speed of light is a hard barrier in the general relativistic framework, and one that is unlikely to be overturned, because any new theoretical physic should have relativity as a special case (just like Newtonian mechanic is a special case of relativity where you can consider v/c=0.

Comment by Dirichlet-to-Neumann on The Story of the Reichstag · 2021-02-08T14:24:03.231Z · LW · GW

Given the state of diplomatic relations between Germany and it's historical enemies France and Poland, and given the state of diplomatic relations between Japan and it's neighbours China and Korea, I think the answer is already pretty obvious...

Comment by Dirichlet-to-Neumann on Killing the ants · 2021-02-08T13:48:09.339Z · LW · GW

I think your last sentence is a good summary of my position on this matter: you have a moral duty to all moral agents in general - but only to moral agents. Non-moral agents are out of bound (although you can still exert charity toward them if you want, it's just not a moral duty).