[Link] The Much Forgotten and Ignored Need to Have Workable Solutions 2015-08-03T22:02:33.510Z
Meetup : Paris Meetup: Saturday, July 11 2015-07-06T21:42:56.543Z
Impartial ethics and personal decisions 2015-03-08T12:14:04.205Z
Meetup : Paris Meetup 2015-02-10T09:39:39.109Z
Open Thread: What are your important insights or aha! moments? 2014-11-09T22:56:57.754Z
Brainstorming: children's stories 2014-02-11T13:23:17.029Z
A Workflow with Spaced Repetition 2013-11-03T15:58:41.117Z
Meetup : Paris Meetup: Sunday, October 6: New people, games... 2013-09-30T22:16:45.283Z
Open Thread: How much strategic thinking have you done recently? 2013-08-28T11:48:25.571Z
Meetup : Paris Meetup: Sunday, May 26. 2013-05-14T20:27:45.433Z
Open Thread: how do you look for information? 2013-05-07T17:22:52.299Z
Meetup : Paris Meetup 2012-08-21T14:35:59.849Z
What have you recently tried, and failed at? 2012-07-05T09:52:54.317Z
Have you changed your mind lately? On what? 2012-06-04T19:54:46.006Z
How do you find good scholarly criticism of a book? 2012-05-24T10:51:38.884Z
"Ask for help on your project" open thread 2012-02-06T21:59:52.817Z
Meetup : Paris, Sunday November 13 2011-11-04T14:39:59.939Z
Posts with comments crash (bug's probably in comment rendering). The comment rss works. 2011-07-16T08:43:35.805Z
Meetup : Paris Meetup 2011-06-22T20:47:46.627Z
Paris Meetup Saturday June 25 2011-06-07T07:49:50.095Z
What can you teach us? 2011-05-28T09:57:10.801Z
Paris Meetup, Saturday April 30th, 2PM 2011-04-24T10:21:38.240Z
Paris Meetup, Saturday April 30th, 2PM 2011-04-02T12:27:11.672Z
Folk grammar and morality 2010-12-17T21:20:46.169Z
Brainstorming: neat stuff we could do on LessWrong 2010-12-13T20:38:25.782Z
What topics would you like to see more of on LessWrong? 2010-12-13T16:20:11.474Z
Counterfactual mugging: alien abduction edition 2010-09-28T21:25:41.142Z
New Discussion section on LessWrong! 2010-09-28T13:08:26.251Z


Comment by Emile on Blind Empiricism · 2017-11-12T23:13:19.078Z · LW · GW

I've been the guy religiously arguing for pushing an early version of the product in front of users as soon as possible (as the saying goes, "if you're not ashamed of your first version then you've released too late"), not in order to learn whether it's a good product or not, but to learn details of what needs to be improved but also what doesn't need to be improved (because nobody cares about / notices the "problem").

A related debate has been about how much you should spec out your product before putting it before customers - Big Design Up Front vs. figure stuff out as we go along based on user feedback. I usually prefer the second, but have to admit that Big Design Up Front is probably the best (albeit less fun) approach. Part of that preference for improvisation is probably because of some halo effect around the fox approach or agile or XP or empiricism or something.

(probably paraphrasing this post a bit) So we probably have an issue where "we" (nerds) have plenty of warnings about trusting theory too much, but few warnings about trusting empiricism too much, so we're bound to end up under-valuing theory. Especially once we start attaching identity labels (hedges vs foxes, scruffies vs. neats, hackers vs. architecture astronauts...).

Comment by Emile on Open thread, Aug. 10 - Aug. 16, 2015 · 2015-08-11T07:32:11.696Z · LW · GW

if I could give them back just ten minutes of their lives, most of them wouldn’t be here.

He's wrong about that. He would need to give them back 10 minutes of their lives, and then keep on giving them back different 10 minutes on a very regular basis.

I disagree. Let's take drivers who got into a serious accident : if you "gave them just back ten minutes" so that they avoided getting into that accident, most of them wouldn't have had another accident later on. It's not as if the world neatly divided into safe drivers, who never have accidents, and unsafe drivers, who have several.

Sure, those kids that got in trouble are more likely to have problematic personalities, habits, etc. which would make it more likely to get in trouble again - but that doesn't mean more likely than not. Most drivers don't get have (serious) accidents, most kids don't get in (serious) trouble, and if you restrict yourself to the subset of those who already had it once, I agree a second problem is more likely, but not certain.

Comment by Emile on Getting Over Dust Theory · 2015-07-13T08:48:38.370Z · LW · GW

I mean, roughly, that not only are the two empircally indistinguishable, but that I don't even see a reason to care about whether I'm "in a simulation" or not, and it's not even clear what would qualify as a simulation...

Comment by Emile on Rational Discussion of Controversial Topics · 2015-07-01T18:11:18.053Z · LW · GW

A bug breaks it for me now:

I'm on iPad, any topic I click on redirects me to, which doesn't exist. So I can't even read anything but the titles.

...edit: aaand it's been fixed, thanks Cleonid, that was quick :)

Comment by Emile on Open Thread, Apr. 20 - Apr. 26, 2015 · 2015-04-21T21:51:15.411Z · LW · GW

I can't say I ran into it before (whereas "economists think humans are all rational self-interested agents", jeez...)

Comment by Emile on Language Learning and the Dark Arts. · 2015-04-07T16:33:26.942Z · LW · GW

Pretty neat website you got there!

Knocking through a bunch of exercises every day feels efficient but it's not exactly fun and I put in less time than I should.

I've been reviewing Anki pretty much daily for the past couple of years, and I put in enough time to have all my cards reviewed. What helps:

  • Doing it on my smartphones at times were I can't do much else anyway (in public transport, waiting in a queue); the most "productive" thing I could be doing with that time is reading a book, and even then, reading a book standing up is more of a hassle than looking at my smarphone.
  • All the stuff in it is stuff I added myself and considered worth learning, and if I have doubts about something (a card or a whole deck), i'll often suspend or delete it
  • "Finish today's cards" is a reachable, definite, objective (more so than "a bunch of exercises") but I still don't put big pressure on myself, since if I'm too busy to review today, I'll review a bit more tomorrow, and eventually catch up (I don't need to explicitly decide "I'll review some more to compensate", I just will have more due cards tomorrow).
  • I only add new cards if I don't feel overwhelmed by the daily review schedule

(and yes, I've been using this to learn Japanese and to review my Mandarin and German)

Comment by Emile on Request for help: Android app to shut down a smartphone late at night · 2015-04-02T15:05:10.895Z · LW · GW

Alternative implementation: an android widget that posts a "snitch" message somewhere online if ever your phone is unlocked in certain time frames; such that other people can easily see online whether you unlocked your phone in the "forbidden" timeframe.

Comment by Emile on Learning by Doing · 2015-03-24T12:22:40.353Z · LW · GW

As far as I can tell, folks either learn everything beyond the mechanics and algorithms of programming from your seniors in the workplace or discover it for themself.

... or from Stack Overflow / Wikipedia, no? When encountering a difficult problem, one can either ask someone more knowledgeable, figure it out himself, or look it up on the internet.

Comment by Emile on Open thread, Mar. 23 - Mar. 31, 2015 · 2015-03-24T08:57:42.239Z · LW · GW

One charitable interpretation is "it's something you learn by doing, not something you learn by reading".

"Art" has a bit of a double meaning, there's the "something that's pretty/pleasing/aesthetic/original/creative", but there's also the "craft" meaning, as in "the art of XXX".

I want to focus on the "art is inherently intuitive and not about breaking things down into components like science" part. My thought is that these people who say this are confusing their map for the territory. They may not know how to deduce what the perfect painting would look like, but that doesn't mean that it's not possible.

Two reactions to this:

1) If someone says something can't be broken into component parts, a more charitable reading is that they think that trying to do so is a waste of time and less likely to bring progress than just a lot of practice. Even if it's possible in theory, that doesn't mean it's actually a good idea, so warning people against it can be totally reasonable, and isn't "confusing their map for the territory".

2) HOWEVER, in the case of art, most forms of art I can think of - drawing, painting, storytelling, animations, etc. - most definitely CAN be broken into component pieces, and often those component pieces can be broken into component pieces too, etc. - just check out the right section in any library.

You can't learn to draw by reading a book, but a good book on drawing can tell you what individual skills you should practice, and how to do so.

Comment by Emile on Open thread, Mar. 23 - Mar. 31, 2015 · 2015-03-23T11:15:59.284Z · LW · GW

Yep, I'm interested!

Comment by Emile on Is arrogance a symptom of bad intellectual hygeine? · 2015-03-23T08:47:36.089Z · LW · GW

I'd say there are cases where it's reasonable to dismiss others' opinions out of hand (apart from politeness etc.) BUT it takes more than "I'm much smarter than them"; there should be a factor like "I have all the evidence they have / I know all they know on that topic" and of course "I have good reasons to believe I'm smarter than them and know more".

And even then it's the kind of thing that's reasonable "on average", i.e. it can be a decent time-saving heuristic if needed, but it can still get wrong. Say Alice is studying for a Masters degree in physics and Bob, a high-schooler who's not exceptionally bright (Alice had better science grades then him in high school), disagrees with her on something about black holes. As a rule of thumb, Alice is probably right BUT it happens that Bob just spent the summer camping with a family friend, Calvin, who's a physicist and just wouldn't shut up about black holes, explaining a bunch of concepts and controversies to Bob the best he could. Now it's pretty likely that Bob is actually right (though Alice might be justified in not listening anyway, depending on how good Bob is at explaining his position).

Comment by Emile on The Strangest Thing An AI Could Tell You · 2015-03-17T08:53:47.442Z · LW · GW

I think that for the specific case of Harry Potter Fanfic, this hypothesis has been disproved by [Yudkowsky, 2010].

Though for "many people's perception of 'quality'", there's probably some truth there.

Comment by Emile on [LINK] Author's Note 119: Shameless Begging · 2015-03-13T08:35:10.079Z · LW · GW

It might be worth rereading the passage in question:

The Confessor held up a hand. "I mean it, my lord Akon. It is not polite idealism. We ancients can't steer. We remember too much disaster. We're too cautious to dare the bold path forward. Do you know there was a time when nonconsensual sex was illegal?"

Akon wasn't sure whether to smile or grimace. "The Prohibition, right? During the first century pre-Net? I expect everyone was glad to have that law taken off the books. I can't imagine how boring your sex lives must have been up until then - flirting with a woman, teasing her, leading her on, knowing the whole time that you were perfectly safe because she couldn't take matters into her own hands if you went a little too far -"

"You need a history refresher, my Lord Administrator. At some suitably abstract level. What I'm trying to tell you - and this is not public knowledge - is that we nearly tried to overthrow your government."

"What?" said Akon. "The Confessors?"

"No, us. The ones who remembered the ancient world. Back then we still had our hands on a large share of the capital and tremendous influence in the grant committees. When our children legalized rape, we thought that the Future had gone wrong."

Akon's mouth hung open. "You were that prude?"

The Confessor shook his head. "There aren't any words," the Confessor said, "there aren't any words at all, by which I ever could explain to you. No, it wasn't prudery. It was a memory of disaster."

"Um," Akon said. He was trying not to smile. "I'm trying to visualize what sort of disaster could have been caused by too much nonconsensual sex -"

"Give it up, my lord," the Confessor said. He was finally laughing, but there was an undertone of pain to it. "Without, shall we say, personal experience, you can't possibly imagine, and there's no point in trying."

The passage is very clearly about value dissonance, about how very different cultures can fail to understand each other (which is a major theme of the story). They don't go into details because the only reasons characters bring it up is to show how values have changed.

And sticking to a less-controversial example would have defeated the point. And for illustrating this point, I much prefer this approach (meta talk between characters about how much things have canged) than one that would go into details of how the new system worked.

Comment by Emile on Succeess depends on finding a balance between "geek" and "jock" · 2015-03-12T17:01:27.827Z · LW · GW

Counterexamples: Bill Gates nor Arnold Schwarzenegger seem respectively 100% geek and 100% jock, and are among the most successful people on earth. Which seem to show you can be extremely successful without "striking a balance".

Going 100% geek seems like a perfectly viable strategy, especially if you mostly care about success at geeky things (which amazingly a lot of geeks do).

Which isn't to say there aren't any "geek failure modes" to avoid, but "try to strike a balance between geek and jock" doesn't seem like a very useful rule of thumb.

Comment by Emile on Succeess depends on finding a balance between "geek" and "jock" · 2015-03-12T15:50:17.336Z · LW · GW

So this problem already arose at the earliest tribal societies, of the triangular chieftain - shaman - warrior dynamic.

Do you have good anthropological evidence that this "dynamic" actually exists / existed, and corresponds to what you're referring to?

"How our proud ancestors lived" in popular culture is full of bad/old science, romantic notions, nationalist/political propaganda (in either direction), and I trust it as much as I trust talk of "positive energy".

There are a bunch of stories (books, movies, games...) set in a fictional past, and they are often made understandable by projecting modern stereotypes there (because nobody has a good idea what life was millennia ago, and more importantly people don't care, they prefer modern issues with an exotic backdrop). It seems that you're seeing the resemblance of modern social stereotypes with "shamans" or "warriors" in popular culture, and acting as if it revealed some kind of profound truth about mankind.

(note that I don't know that much history or anthropology myself)

Comment by Emile on Defining a limited satisficer · 2015-03-12T12:55:49.802Z · LW · GW

Thinking aloud here:

Say I'm an agent that wants to increase u, but not "too strongly" (this whole thing is about how to formalize "too strongly"). Couldn't I have a way of estimating how much other agents who don't care about u might still care about what I do, and minimize that? i.e. avoid anything that would make other agents want to model my working as something more than "wants to increase u".

(back in agent-designer shoes) So we could create a "moderate increaser" agent, give it a utility function u and inform it of other agents trying to increase v, w, x, y, and somehow have it avoid any strategies that would involve "decision theory interaction" with those other agents; i.e. threats, retaliation, trade ... maybe something like "those agents should behave as if you didn't exist".

Comment by Emile on [LINK] Author's Note 119: Shameless Begging · 2015-03-12T09:14:56.815Z · LW · GW

The bit on legalized rape is an important way of conveying that the future will seem weird and surprising and immoral to us, just like 2015 would seem weird and surprising and immoral to someone from a few centuries ago. I want my science-fiction to show how weird things are likely to be (even if the specific kind of weirdness is of course likely to be very wrong), I don't want it to be a bowdlerized soap opera with robots and lasers in the background.

And if people can't understand that and read any kind of far-off weirdness through the lens of this decade's petty tribal politics, then basically, fuck 'em. I don't want Eliezer or anybody else to bend backwards to avoid being misread by idiots.

And sure, it's bad PR, but it's a bit of a self-fulfilling policy, a bit like how "openly criticizing the Government" is a bad career move for a Chinese citizen.

Comment by Emile on Open thread, Mar. 9 - Mar. 15, 2015 · 2015-03-09T21:26:26.602Z · LW · GW

I'm toying with the idea of programming a game based on .

Are you missing a word there?

Comment by Emile on Impartial ethics and personal decisions · 2015-03-09T09:29:11.417Z · LW · GW

But is caring for yourself and your friends and family an instrumental value that helps you stay sane so that you can help others more efficiently, or is it a terminal value? It sure feels like a terminal value, and your "morality of self-care" sounds like a roundabout way of explaining why people care so much about it by making it instrumental.

Comment by Emile on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 117 · 2015-03-08T21:04:59.094Z · LW · GW

Because children are not fully capable of taking care of themselves, and so there is a norm that all adults (and older children) have a duty of helping and protecting them (even against themselves).

And also because if an adult harms a child, it is much more likely that the victim is innocent and didn't "deserve" that harm than if the victim is an adult.

(and I don't think "greater moral value" accurately describes the situation)

Comment by Emile on Impartial ethics and personal decisions · 2015-03-08T20:04:01.029Z · LW · GW

The Spring and Autumn period definitely seems relevant, and I think someone could get a lot of interesting posts out of it.

Yep, I've been reading a fair amount about it recently; I had considering first making a "prequel" post talking about that period and about how studying ancient China can be fairly interesting, in that it shows us a pretty alien society that still had similar debates.

I had heard from various sources how Confucius said it was normal to care more about some than others, and it took me a bit of work to dig up what that notion was called exactly.

Comment by Emile on Impartial ethics and personal decisions · 2015-03-08T20:01:21.877Z · LW · GW

What if, for example, the institution of family is crucial for the well-being of humans, and not putting your close ones first in the short run would undermine that institution?

If that was the real reason you would treat your brother better than one kid in Africa, than you would be willing to sacrifice a good relationship with your brother in exchange for saving two good brother-relationships between poor kids in Africa.

I agree you could evaluate impersonally how much good the institution of the family (and other similar things, like marriages, promises, friendship, nation-states, etc.) creates; and thus how "good" are natural inclinations to help our family are (on the plus side; sustains the family, an efficient form of organization and child-rearing; on the down side: can cause nepotism). But we humans aren't moved by that kind of abstract considerations nearly as much as we are by a desire to care for our family.

Comment by Emile on Impartial ethics and personal decisions · 2015-03-08T19:55:30.662Z · LW · GW

Suppose I get my weights from inside me, and you get yours from inside you; then we might not be able to coordinate, instead wrestling each other over the ability to flip the switch.

In practice people with different values manage to coordinate perfectly fine via trade; I agree an external source of morality would be sufficient for cooperation, but it's not necessary (also having all humans really take an external source as the real basis for all their choices would require some pretty heavy rewriting of human nature).

Comment by Emile on Plane crashes · 2015-03-08T19:51:45.415Z · LW · GW

Yeah, that was my thought too - after an accident, everyone is more careful and diligent, because there will be a search for someone to blame, and that's really not a good time to be asleep at the wheel, whatever your level of responsibility.

Comment by Emile on Towards a theory of nerds... who suffer. · 2015-03-03T09:55:21.268Z · LW · GW

Maybe practice editing more? If you suck at it, rewriting /editing your posts will only make you better at it. It might be a bit of work, it might take a bit of time, but it's nice to take ten minutes of your time to save thirty seconds to a hundred readers (and more importantly to save all the time wasted by comments who misunderstood part of what you said and the ensuing back-and-forth).

(I personally don't have much time to spend reading long preachy walls of texts telling me about my supposed self-hatred; I didn't downvote your post but skipped to the discussion because the post itself wasn't very engaging and seemed to get things wrong fairly quickly)

Comment by Emile on Ask me anything. · 2015-02-16T17:53:55.852Z · LW · GW

I suspect most people here find this post very confusing as they don't know who you are (I don't recognize your username), and it's not really clear what you're getting at or why we would want to ask you anything.

Comment by Emile on Is Pragmatarianism (Tax Choice) Less Wrong? · 2015-02-12T18:00:04.963Z · LW · GW

A bit of a nitpick (which could explain some of the reception you're getting here): I don't think the term "Pragmatarianism" is a good description for your proposal, it's just an unrelated name that sounds good. Might as well say 'I'm calling this proposal "Sensible Tax Policy"' or 'My idea, called "Reasonablism", is that...', etc.

A more modest and descriptive name would probably be better received, especially in places who dislike marketing.

Comment by Emile on Discussion of concrete near-to-middle term trends in AI · 2015-02-10T08:49:07.671Z · LW · GW

Okay, though we're still far from a true robot butler. I don't know if we're ten years away though, especially if you're tolerant in what you expect a butler to be able to do (welcome guests, take their names, point them in the right direction, answer basic questions? We can already do it. Go up a flight of stairs? Not yet.)

Comment by Emile on Discussion of concrete near-to-middle term trends in AI · 2015-02-10T08:45:10.047Z · LW · GW

There are already quite a few of them deployed in stores in Japan, interacting with customers, so for now it's going okay :)

Comment by Emile on Discussion of concrete near-to-middle term trends in AI · 2015-02-09T13:23:15.942Z · LW · GW

It's debatable how much a "remote controlled helicopters with a camera" should fall under "robotics"; progress in that area seems pretty orthogonal to issues like manipulation and autonomy.

(Though on the other hand modern drones are better at mechanical control "just" remote control: good drones have a feedback loop so that they correct their position)

Comment by Emile on Discussion of concrete near-to-middle term trends in AI · 2015-02-09T11:12:51.840Z · LW · GW

We won't have robot butlers or maids in the next ten years.

(for what it's worth, I work on this robot for a living)

Comment by Emile on Je suis Charlie · 2015-01-15T23:47:54.283Z · LW · GW

I think my chain falls of on the idea that we can assign reliable probabilities to various hypotheses, prior to our own thorough investigation of the available scientific material.

Yep! We do it all the time! How likely do you think it is that the city of New York has just been destroyed by a nuclear blast? That your parents are actually undercover agents sent by Thailand? That there is a scorpion in the sandwich you're about to eat? Most people would consider those extremely unlikely without a second thought, and would not feel any need for a "thorough investigation of the available scientific material". And that's a perfectly sensible thing to do!

Comment by Emile on Je suis Charlie · 2015-01-15T11:34:37.458Z · LW · GW

I guess we can agree that the most rational response would be to enter a state of aporia until sufficient evidence is at hand.

Not really; consider how much effort is worth investigating the question of whether Barack Obama is actually secretly Transgender, in different scenarios:

  • You just thought about it, but don't have any special reason to privilege that hypothesis
  • Someone mentioned the idea a a thought experiment on, but doesn't seem to think it's even remotely likely
  • Someone on the internet seems to honestly believe it (but may be a troll or time cube guy-level crazy)
  • A vocal group on the internet seems to believe it
  • Several people you know in real-life seem to believe it

If you think that even in the first case you should investigate, then you're going to spend your life running over every hypothesis that catches your fancy, regardless of how likely or useful it is. If you believe that in some cases it deserves a bit of investigation, but not others, you're going to need a few extra rules of thumbs, even before looking as the evidence.

Comment by Emile on Open thread Jan. 5-11, 2015 · 2015-01-05T15:40:32.690Z · LW · GW

I've used The bootstrap framework to make web apps that don't look horribly ugly. Learning all the things you'd need to make apps that use that (so a bit of JS, CSS, HTML, etc. as sixes_and_seven says) would probably be a good start. (It would be probably easier than trying to make good-looking CSS from scratch, which is more of a pain).

Comment by Emile on Inverse relationship between belief in foom and years worked in commercial software · 2015-01-05T12:52:36.660Z · LW · GW

Side note: I keep seeing a bizarre assumption (which I can only assume is a Hollywood trope) from a lot of people here that even a merely human-level AI would automatically be awesome at dealing with software just because they're made of software. (like how humans are automatically experts in advanced genetic engineering just because we're made of DNA)

Not "just because they're made of software" - but because there are many useful things that a computer is already better than a human at (notably, vastly greater "working memory"), so a human-level AI can be expected to have those and whatever humans can do now. And a programmer who could easily do things like "check all lines of code to see if they seem like they can be used", or systematically checking from where a function could be called, or "annotating" each variable, function or class by why it exists ... all things that a human programmer could do, but that either require a lot of working memory, or are mind-numblingly boring.

Comment by Emile on Paris LW Meetup - LHC Exhibit - 17/01/2015 · 2015-01-01T22:01:58.447Z · LW · GW

I should be there.

Comment by Emile on Open thread, Dec. 8 - Dec. 15, 2014 · 2014-12-08T16:03:19.384Z · LW · GW

Maybe completely blanking on that question is a sign of having studied some physics?

Comment by Emile on [deleted post] 2014-12-08T14:37:49.382Z

That's the kind of knowledge humanity is better off not having.

Comment by Emile on December 2014 Monthly Bragging Thread · 2014-12-02T08:59:37.262Z · LW · GW

There's already a thread in discussion:

Comment by Emile on Open thread, Nov. 24 - Nov. 30, 2014 · 2014-11-24T13:12:54.425Z · LW · GW

?! But your name seems even less tractable to yourself than mine is, and I don't worry about that!

(also, if you take into account the probability that they will link those comments to you, and that they will think badly of you because of it, no?)

Comment by Emile on Memory Improvement: Mnemonics, Tools, or Books on the Topic? · 2014-11-22T13:59:38.282Z · LW · GW

exactly what the singularity is god for

... I'm not sure whether that is a misspelling ... (Freudian slip?)

Comment by Emile on xkcd on the AI box experiment · 2014-11-21T08:34:41.393Z · LW · GW

(ok, I deleted my duplicate post then)

Also worth mentioning: the Forum thread, in which Eliezer chimes in.

Comment by Emile on [deleted post] 2014-11-20T09:36:40.550Z

From here:

(Do not write his name in the comments without the dots. Writing his name online summons him. I'm not joking.)

(not that this policy has been applied much here; and indeed he has been summoned)

(I also wondered whether it was that person, but decided the russian thing made it unlikely)

Comment by Emile on Open thread, Nov. 17 - Nov. 23, 2014 · 2014-11-18T23:09:34.748Z · LW · GW

What's so great about impacting the status quo? That doesn't seem like something worth aiming for. I mean, yeah, sure, most ways of making the world a better place impact the status quo; but most ways of making the world a better place involve making noise at one point of the other, that doesn't mean that making noise is some great thing we should aim for.

Things that make the world (or lesswrong, or your family, etc.) a worse place are more likely to make people upset than things that make the world a better place. There are also more ways to make things worse than to make things better.

Comment by Emile on Open thread, Nov. 17 - Nov. 23, 2014 · 2014-11-18T17:13:01.920Z · LW · GW

if I'm not upsetting some people, I'm not doing a good job

Why?? I occasionally hear that repeated, but it sounds like a cheap excuse to act like a dick, or to retroactively brush off when people point out when you said something wrong in public. It calls to mind the image of a lazy teen spouting out every random stupid idea that goes through his mind and considering that the essence of being a Brave Independent Thinker.

(this is not targeted at you, Capla, I haven't been paying special attention to your posts)

Comment by Emile on Open thread, Nov. 3 - Nov. 9, 2014 · 2014-11-07T22:41:57.583Z · LW · GW

As others mentioned: mining, special manufacturing exploiting microgravity.

A lot of competition and innovation in the area of data transfer protocols and encryption and localization and espionage increasing the need for engineers that can build, test and maintain new communications directly from orbit, which is cheaper than launching prototype after prototype.

A fad for having a marriage and honeymoon in space, making luxury space hotels commercially viable.

Companies having headquarters in space as the ultimate signal. Especially if it gives them an advantageous legal environment.

China wanting to outshine the US, so heavily subsidizing the stuff above for it's citizens / companies.

Space junk becoming enough of a problem that specialized repair and disposal jobs become viable, mostly financed by the satellite insurance companies.

Some of the things above increasing the number of space flights, and so decreasing prices and making a few more uses become viable.

Comment by Emile on The Danger of Invisible Problems · 2014-11-07T13:24:23.011Z · LW · GW

I was expecting you to write about another kind of invisible problem, one that you just don't know exists, such as "I have really bad breath". That kind of problem is harder to detect!

Comment by Emile on Academic papers · 2014-10-30T22:53:31.063Z · LW · GW

(you also have "soundign" in your article)

Comment by Emile on Open thread, Oct. 27 - Nov. 2, 2014 · 2014-10-28T22:01:47.190Z · LW · GW

Apparently I have 6887 cards (though that includes those I suspended because they're boring, useless, too difficult, duplicated, or possibly wrong; I tend to often suspend cards instead of deleting them); of those around 3000 are Chinese pinyin cards I automatically created with a Python script (I set them up to get between 1 and 5 new ones per day, depending on how busy I tend to be), 1000 are Japanese (the biggest deck of manually-entered cards), and the remaining decks rarely go over 300 cards.

I study probably between 20 and 40 minutes per day, usually in public transit or during "downtime" (waiting in line, carrying the baby around the house hoping for him to sleep, in the restroom, the elevator...). The time depends of how many new cards I entered recently.

Comment by Emile on Open thread, Oct. 27 - Nov. 2, 2014 · 2014-10-28T21:46:19.587Z · LW · GW

You may be interested in "Chimpanzee Politics", by Frans de Waals (something like that), which is about exactly that (observing a group of Chimps in a zoo, and how their politics and alliances evolves, with a couple coups).