Stupid Questions (10/27/2014) 2014-10-27T21:27:12.573Z
Open Thread, November 15-22, 2013 2013-11-16T01:36:54.422Z
Content writing offer 2011-09-30T22:41:05.995Z
Public Donation List or Putting Peer Pressure to Good Use 2011-08-28T20:36:07.644Z
Madison WI Meetup, Sat Apr 2nd 1PM 2011-03-22T23:59:44.995Z


Comment by drethelin on The rationalist community's location problem · 2020-09-30T17:58:02.876Z · LW · GW

At this point I think enough people have tried to make pitches for various cities that have achieved nothing that I don't really see the value in adding another one to the pile of attempts to get the community as a whole to move somewhere.

On the other hand, a lot of people have moved to a lot of places on an individual or small-group basis so I'm happy to pitch where I live, Madison Wisconsin, as a potential place you might not know about which I think is a pretty good compromise on a lot of things that people want from a place to live. 

Downtown Madison Wisconsin from Above

Madison has a good variety of restaurants, bars, cafes, parks, and other amenities in a small radius. You can rent anything from an efficiency to a whole house in walking distance from all of this without much hassle since there is a large market for student housing due to the relatively huge University in the city.

Rents in this area can vary from 450 a month (if you want to live with me in my house) to around 1800 for a 750 ft 1 bedroom in a brand new high end apartment building a couple blocks away from me. 

Crime: In like a decade parking downtown I have never had my car broken into, although I have had it entered a few times when I left it unlocked. I have never been randomly mugged. My roommate is smol and has walked around here at night for longer than I have and has never had a problem. Like many cities we've had some rioting/looting and increase in other crimes this summer but it's mostly not impacting random people. 

Culture: In normal years, we have a ton of live music and events in various bars, cafes, and theaters, as well as plays, art shows, and so on. Madison is big enough that touring bands usually stop here, although not always, and sometimes if I want to catch a show I have to drive an hour and a half to Milwaukee or 3 hours to Chicago. There is an enormous gaming scene here, with a ton of great MTG players, lots of roleplaying and LARP, as well as tabletop, boardgaming, etc. 

We also have Contra, Swing, and other dance scenes, as well as a few night clubs and an immense amount of bars. 

If you like walking outside, Madison has more parks per capita than any other big city, as well as just tons of trees, gardens, and greenery in most neighborhoods, and multiple lakes and rivers in walking distance of downtown. I can walk from my house to the center of government or into a forest equally easily. If you have a car, you can drive to a ton of state parks in an hour, as well as to The House on the Rock, but even if you don't it's easy to bike to see nature, if that's something you're into. 

We have a start-up and tech job ecosystem, mostly focused around biotech and healthcare industry but we do have a Google office and as well as Epic Systems in the next town over so there is a very significant percentage of people in software also. We have good internet options available if you are going to be working from home going forward too. 

The biggest downsides about living in Madison from my point of view are:

Winter -- Personally I really like having seasons, but if you can't stand cold and snow you will be miserable here for much of the year. 

Population -- Madison only has around 250,000 people, which means that your selection of people to hang out with in niche interest areas is fairly limited. We used to have a nice 8-12 person or so Lesswrong meetup group which fell apart after a bunch of people moved to the Bay Area. If you go to nerdy events you will find that you tend to see a lot of the same people over and over. Depending on your interests, you can still find lots of people to hang out with, but if, eg, you are averse to drinking you may have some trouble. 

Comment by drethelin on The rationalist community's location problem · 2020-09-30T17:19:20.928Z · LW · GW

Driving a car is actually very safe. You can expect to drive a car full-time for 100 years before suffering a lethal accident. 

Comment by drethelin on Baking is Not a Ritual · 2020-06-03T17:14:17.788Z · LW · GW

The only thing I want to add is that despite pretenses to sameness it's useful to remember that not all ovens are equal and having a conscious awareness of oven quirks can help a lot to diagnose what went wrong.

Comment by drethelin on Open & Welcome Thread - February 2020 · 2020-02-28T00:36:25.767Z · LW · GW

the absolutely important part that people seem to miss with a basic 101 understanding of EMH is "hard" in no way means "impossible"

People do hard things all the time! It takes work and time and IQ and learning from experience but they do it.

Comment by drethelin on We run the Center for Applied Rationality, AMA · 2019-12-30T23:17:50.517Z · LW · GW

I believe the reason why is that knowing everyone in the community would literally be a full-time job and no one wants to pay for that.

Comment by drethelin on Uber Self-Driving Crash · 2019-12-03T00:52:09.603Z · LW · GW

It is especially the case that it should prioritize braking in uncertainty when it's a lonely road with no one behind

Comment by drethelin on Open & Welcome Thread - November 2019 · 2019-11-21T22:06:12.832Z · LW · GW

Simplest answer: twitter is where everyone else is, which makes it the simplest and easiest way to interact conversationally with potentially anyone on earth without an intro or in-person meeting.

In addition, twitter enables easy one-to-many communication for celebrities who want to spread memes, and brevity is the soul of wit.

Comment by drethelin on Dependability · 2019-03-28T18:03:44.092Z · LW · GW

That just makes an opening like "I have become very, very interested in developing a skill that I call Dependability." even more annoying to me.

Comment by drethelin on Dependability · 2019-03-26T23:59:46.582Z · LW · GW

I disapprove of the lesswrongy tendency to try to coin new words or new meanings for old words for concepts that already exist and are useful.

Comment by drethelin on You Have About Five Words · 2019-03-13T06:47:32.511Z · LW · GW

Walmart coordinates 2.2 million people directly and millions more indirectly.

Even the boy scouts coordinates 2.7 million.

Religions coordinate, to a greater or lesser extent, far more.

The key to coordination is to not consider yourself as an individual measuring out a ration of words you can force x number of people to read. Most people never read the bible.

Comment by drethelin on Nyoom · 2018-10-13T15:45:30.460Z · LW · GW

The sensation of new 'vistas' of options and subjective preferences opening up is a very familiar one to me in a similar way from a combination of a) getting actually good socks and shoes and b) lifting sufficient weights that my legs are strong enough to lift me up stairs/hills easily. Doing a bunch of squats once a week means that if people happen to be walking together and we go up a hill i'm no longer suffering, I'm doing fine, and this similarly means that a lot more things which would be terrible are fine journeys.

To people in general I strongly recommend getting your feet measured in width and height as well a length, and shopping around for shoes that actually fit if you can, as this makes a huge difference in how long you can walk before your feet start to hurt. In addition, things that you don't really think about like sole thickness and material and sock materials can make a surprisingly large difference.

Comment by drethelin on Anti-social Punishment · 2018-10-11T20:07:00.070Z · LW · GW

I think an under-appreciated aspect is suspicion of Officially Altruistic behavior. A ton of things people do even in countries that weren't run by communists that appear to be altruistic are actually self-enriching, and in addition a ton of things people do to help the less fortunate actually end up hurting them. I would yell at a lot of people if they started ostentatiously saying they were sacrificing for my benefit when I had never asked them to, and you could easily frame that as "anti-social punishment" if you BELIEVE that they're actually helping, but from a suspicious perspective they're both probably not actually helping me and they're also helping themselves.

Comment by drethelin on The Rocket Alignment Problem · 2018-10-10T16:19:18.538Z · LW · GW

I liked this at first, but about 6-7 paragraphs of back-and-forth in I got really tired, started skimming, and then realized it went on for way more pages.

I get that your internal experience of trying to talk to people about AI risk feels like going on and on in this sort of "humble and correct person argues with smugly incorrect person forever" way but I don't think that's a good format for actually convincing people.

Comment by drethelin on Open Thread September 2018 · 2018-09-13T03:19:52.188Z · LW · GW

Something I've been thinking of doing is asking a lot of specific people I like who else would have to move somewhere before they would move and seeing if there's a smallish cluster

Comment by drethelin on Open Thread September 2018 · 2018-09-12T22:14:00.100Z · LW · GW

I've been thinking a lot lately about where I want to live long-term. I'm currently in Madison Wi, which is really nice, but kinda small and has an unfortunately hot/humid summer. Financially I can live pretty much anywhere I want, except maybe Monaco.

Things I want, not in order of importance:

1. A nice house. In an ideal world, the house would house several of my closest friends, be walkable to parks, shops, and restaurants, and be close enough to other friends that they drop by regularly. I am also very interested in running a public space or a semi-public space adjacent or close to the house, possibly a makerspace, possibly a cafe, or something else. This is one of the reasons it's not instantly obvious that I should move to Berkeley or Manhattan or something. I'm financially well-off but there's like, an order of magnitude in difference in cost of having a nice big place to live. On the other hand, I'm also pretty flexible about living in apartment or something, but for the long term I much prefer having a space I own and can modify and build up to become better and better over the years.

2. People. My best friend and one of my partners lives in Madison at the moment, but most everyone else I like to spend time with or who wants to spend time with me seems to live on one of the coasts or are scattered elsewhere. This is the aspect for which Berkeley is the most obvious winner: I know a ton of rationalists, like meeting new ones and rat-adjacents, and in general like having social situations that I don't personally have to seek out or plan. In the Bay Area, there are tons of regular events that I can go to without having to do the leg-work myself. In addition, there are millions of other people in places like the bay area and NYC of varying kinds and personalities.

3. Climate: I'm big, and while I'm losing weight I still get hot and sweaty very easily. My ideal place in terms of year round climate is the Faroe Islands, where it stays between 33 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit year round in the capitol city. I'd like a place where I can walk around without wanting to die for much of the year. The Bay Area is pretty good for this, but still tends to make me sweaty in the afternoons, especially if I'm walking around the hilly parts of San Francisco. At this point I'm pretty resigned to this, but it's still a factor in where-to-live tradeoffs. I also really enjoy having Seasons, love Autumn and Spring, so places that are as similar all year round as the bay are less preferable in that respect.

4. Walkability/transitability. This one is pretty standard. I like being able to go cool places without having to spend hours in traffic or hassle hugely to park my car.

5. Culture: I like living in a place that has lots of little cafes and bookstores and restaurants that are around, as well as museums and bars and live music and stuff. To a lesser extent I care about the culture of the kinds of people who live in the city, but in practice I'm going to end up mostly hanging out with small subcultures anyway.

6. Something one could summarize as Coolness/Importance: I like the idea of being involved in Big, World-changing Things, despite being very lazy. Places like Manhattan, Hollywood, SF, etc. are attractive at least partially because I can see and potentially participate in important cultural events and shifts. This is one of the things I could conceivably do in Madison but, like assembling a friend group of like-minded people from eg grad students, would be a lot of work.

7. The classic things like low-crime and not too smelly/loud would be good but I can mitigate most of these by living in nicer parts of places. Still, not a zero-factor.

8. I like the idea of being a locally medium-to-high status person whose place people like to visit and who people talk to when they want introductions, as a sort of community nexus type thing. This obviously trades off against moving to places where such people already exist.

One of the options I'm considering is buying a big house in Madison and setting it up something like REACH or the Blackpool EA hotel, and trying to lure rationalists to come live here, as well as making it an outreachy type place for local potential rats. The plus side is I'd get to stay in the city I know like, the downside is it would be a lot more work and potentially not even achieve the kind of life I want. But if I succeed in creating a mini-hub, I'll get to have pretty much all I want for like, 1/10 the cost of moving to SF. Another option is to nominally stay in Madison, but travel 2-3 months out of the year, probably in deepest winter/summer.

I'm looking for input like: direct recommendations for specific cities in ways I probably haven't considered, people who specifically like me commenting that they want me to live in their city, case studies/reports of people who have moved and think they're similar enough to me to give me good input, comparisons from people who have lived in multiple Big Cities as to which are Better, and whatever else people feel like mentioning. Also I want horror stories of living in Manhattan, SF, Berkeley, LA, and Seattle (this is my current shortlist).

Thanks in advance!

Comment by drethelin on Worrying about the Vase: Whitelisting · 2018-06-26T06:50:25.047Z · LW · GW

I think most hard engineering problems are made up of a lot of smaller solutions and especially made up of the lessons learned attempting to implement small solutions, so I think it's incorrect to think of something that's useful but incomplete as being competitive to the true solution rather than actually being a part of the path to it.

Comment by drethelin on CFAR Reunion · 2018-06-26T05:15:34.426Z · LW · GW

I'm gonna be looking for rides to/from Berkeley if, anyone is planning on driving and has space in their car.

Comment by drethelin on Prisoners' Dilemma with Costs to Modeling · 2018-06-21T18:47:21.821Z · LW · GW

I always like Game Theory that has simple advice applicable to real life: If you want people to cooperate with you, Be Comprehensible!

Comment by drethelin on Wirehead your Chickens · 2018-06-20T16:53:05.188Z · LW · GW

People have values other than suffering/non-suffering, such as autonomy. You may say "animals don't suffer from lack of autonomy" or "I don't care about animal autonomy" but you need to make that case rather than saying people are just being dumb.

Comment by drethelin on Hufflepuff Leadership and Fighting Entropy · 2018-06-07T05:45:33.030Z · LW · GW

I feel like asking people to do a favor for you is a lot more credible/enjoyable/smooth* if you're also doing them a favor or have done them favors in the past, or have been seen doing favors for others. This is a lot easier in certain environments, eg if a bunch of people are helping put a large structure** together, it becomes second nature to offer to hold something for someone briefly, or to ask someone to hand you a tool or a piece of the structure. Environments that are less goal-oriented have a harder time with this because the tasks that need to be done are less immediately seen as for a specific person or needed by a specific person.

*in the sense that gears turning is smooth

**perhaps a geodesic dome

Comment by drethelin on Strong Votes [Update: Deployed] · 2018-06-02T06:29:49.711Z · LW · GW

I think you should give more time for the current multipliers to play out. In addition, I think having a separate button for super up-voting is better than click and holding, especially for mobile use and compatibility with different interfaces.

edit - also we ALREADY have a system for Chosen Ones to super-upvote or super-downvote things by promoting them or moderating them out of existence, I'm not sure why we need to add an extra form of super-multiplier effect.

Comment by drethelin on [deleted post] 2018-05-12T03:09:15.851Z

this is the only post of yours I've seen and it's meta whining, and long for that. My guess is the rest of your posts take a long time to say stuff people don't want to read.

Comment by drethelin on [deleted post] 2018-04-07T17:40:02.454Z

what? Why? As far as I can tell my thread was posted before that one?

Comment by drethelin on [deleted post] 2018-03-19T04:44:08.692Z

The main thing I want to say is that it's a huge error to leave something as a coordination problem when it doesn't have to be. The way stag hunts work IRL is by people going "Hey, who wants to go on a Stag Hunt?" and if sufficient people to capture a stag sign up, then the hunt happens. If they don't, there's no situation where a bunch of people waste their time on an impossible stag hunt. You can also do this in the Dragon Army sense by commanding a stag hunt take place as the lord, but either option is better than there being some important, valuable task that has a chance of failing based entirely on individual judgments of whether other individuals will participate.

Comment by drethelin on Inconvenience Is Qualitatively Bad · 2018-03-05T00:30:04.245Z · LW · GW

Sometimes I feel like we lose out on a lot of potential human energy by not having good social or work systems for distributing tasks to people for whom they don't feel like inconveniences

Comment by drethelin on Sacred Cash · 2018-03-05T00:22:25.362Z · LW · GW

I like this but the main thing I think is missing is the concept of capital. Money making money, leading to a surplus in the future. There's also a big difference between spending your interest and spending your principle.

Comment by drethelin on [deleted post] 2018-01-18T08:18:57.906Z

I think a relevant factor is that people are fully capable of switching the frame from counting up to counting down depending on how they want to spin something. It's not just a case of "People have personalities where they naturally count up/down", but more that people can (if unreliably) acccess either viewpoint when convenient.

Comment by drethelin on The Solitaire Principle: Game Theory for One · 2018-01-17T07:25:50.854Z · LW · GW

This is a neat idea but too long and repetitive. You use a ton of examples when the message gets across after 2 or 3.

Comment by drethelin on Open thread, August 14 - August 20, 2017 · 2017-08-15T15:39:43.088Z · LW · GW

There aren't that many people, so the benefits would be minor. Once you've swiped a couple thousand times you're probably through most of the tinder users within your demographic preferences.

Comment by drethelin on Open thread, August 14 - August 20, 2017 · 2017-08-15T15:38:00.411Z · LW · GW

Why would it hack itself to think it's getting paperclips if it's originally programmed to want real paperclips? It would not be incentivized to make that hack because that hack would make it NOT get paperclips.

Comment by drethelin on Can anyone refute these arguments that we live on the interior of a hollow Earth? · 2017-07-22T19:54:40.281Z · LW · GW

This is why we need downvotes.

Comment by drethelin on Open thread, Jul. 17 - Jul. 23, 2017 · 2017-07-20T17:13:12.933Z · LW · GW

You can justify a belief in "Induction works" by induction over your own life.

Comment by drethelin on Against lone wolf self-improvement · 2017-07-07T21:38:01.855Z · LW · GW

I strongly disagree. Most classes are pathetically slow and boring, not to mention expensive and time consuming. For one example, I've learned more history just reading books on my own than I ever did in History class, and it's not like I got bad grades back when I was in school. Showing up and being "carried along" was basically worthless.

It's likely that there are some kinds of classes that are functionally better than learning on your own, but given that the vast majority of classes on most topics are de facto going to be aimed at the lowest common denominator, you're gonna have to put in a lot of work to find good ones.

Comment by drethelin on Open thread, Jul. 03 - Jul. 09, 2017 · 2017-07-07T18:34:02.163Z · LW · GW

Voiding a transaction deletes it (I'm pretty sure), which removes the information trail. The other way records the transactions, so if they end up being criminal, the cashier in question is caught.

Comment by drethelin on Strong men are socialist - how to use a study's own data to disprove it · 2017-05-31T06:20:33.655Z · LW · GW

Sarcastic and rambling and not in a fun way to read. Either get to the point faster or make your asides less about mocking your target and more interesting.

Comment by drethelin on [deleted post] 2017-05-31T05:59:20.374Z


Comment by drethelin on [deleted post] 2017-05-31T05:41:38.498Z

That's kind of unfair, considering the sheer amount of point-scoring going on in the original post.

Comment by drethelin on [deleted post] 2017-05-29T21:52:04.926Z

I like this comment but I think what this and the original trollpost miss out on is that LW community in general, due to having a lot of people with autism and sensory issues, has a ton of people who actually do NOT have "reasonable expectations of what other people want to guide their behavior". The OP quoted here is making a common typical-mind type error. Of COURSE it's better to live with people who intuit your preferences and act in accordance to them without being told what they are. But it's obnoxious to shit on attempted to solutions to a problem by insisting that morally good people could never have the problem in the first place.

Comment by drethelin on [deleted post] 2017-05-29T21:40:58.142Z

It's an appeal to authority and someone shitting on an organization based on one line of a lesswrong comment by one member of that organization, with no request for clarification or depth.

Comment by drethelin on [deleted post] 2017-05-29T21:34:05.480Z

Our ability to concretely describe the effects of social groups on people in general are kind of limited, but things like "person X joined social group Y and now they concretely do behavior Z" are available. If you see people join a group and then become concretely worse (in your own assessment), I think it can be valuable to refer to specifics. I think it can be important and virtuous to convey what you think is a pernicious process, and unfortunately naming someone you personally know is a very effective, if cruel way to do it. Anecdata, and especially anecdata based on the content of someone's facebook feed, is not a great snapshot of a person at different times, but it's still a source of information.

I'm not sure what you think a better sort of way to deliver this sort of message is, but to some extent any nicer way to do it would be less effective in conveying how bad you think the situation is.

Comment by drethelin on [deleted post] 2017-05-29T21:17:34.718Z

I disagree.

Comment by drethelin on [deleted post] 2017-05-29T21:08:52.798Z

Personally I think having some people living in a house who know how to improve and maintain it is a good way to avoid many of the potential longterm problems of living in what's likely to be a century old building.

Comment by drethelin on [deleted post] 2017-05-29T20:52:53.769Z

This is why we need downvotes.

Comment by drethelin on [deleted post] 2017-05-29T20:43:20.299Z

This is why we need downvotes.

Comment by drethelin on Develop skills, or "dive in" and start a startup? · 2017-05-29T20:35:18.573Z · LW · GW

iteration speed is less important than core quality I think. Minecraft was worth millions while still in alpha/beta and that didn't depend on how fast it was updated.

Comment by drethelin on The Ancient God Who Rules High School · 2017-04-12T17:21:01.713Z · LW · GW

this is why we need downvotes

Comment by drethelin on The Ancient God Who Rules High School · 2017-04-12T17:18:17.230Z · LW · GW

Part of being rational involves not trying the same thing over and over that doesn't work. Giving people the factually correct, simple advice that you believe does not work.

Comment by drethelin on The Ancient God Who Rules High School · 2017-04-06T01:07:41.599Z · LW · GW

"Anyone can just do x" is an insane and unrealistic way to frame solutions to a problem. Like saying "to stop the obesity epidemic we just need to tell people they have to eat less and exercise more." or "we should tell people to save more money for retirement" the fact that you can frame a solution in simple terms does not in fact make it a non-issue.

also for much of the year in America going to school DOES in fact involve getting up well before dawn.

Comment by drethelin on OpenAI makes humanity less safe · 2017-04-06T00:58:25.488Z · LW · GW

It might! the fewer people who are plausibly competing in arms race the more chance of negotiating a settlement or simply maintaining a peaceful standoff out of caution. If OpenAI enables more entities to have a solid chance of creating a fooming AI in secret, that's a much more urgent development than if China and the US are the only real threat to each other, and both know it.

Comment by drethelin on Globally better means locally worse · 2017-03-22T23:40:00.803Z · LW · GW

Planned obsolescence is technically difficult: it's relatively easy to design and use a material which lasts indefinitely, but harder to design a machine around materials that last a specified period and then fail. You need to tread the tight-rope between "too shitty to buy" and "too high quality to require frequent replacement."