Comment by Estarlio on Rationality Quotes October 2013 · 2013-10-16T12:36:58.586Z · LW · GW

It's worth noting that Wilson's comment is A->B, C->D, not A=B, C=D.

Yeah, I know. It's just not clear that you have to love complexity and not like reductionism to get art. It's not A <-> B.

If it's not A <-> B then it's A -> B but even that seems sketchy. Lots of people love spouting, sketching, whatever, complex nonsense without doing anything I'd describe as art.

Of course, it'd help in this situation to be able to point at art - but the whole thought seems very muddled and imprecise, and the issues seems far from the blank assertion it's presented as.

Does that sound like a love of complexity to you?


Comment by Estarlio on Rationality Quotes October 2013 · 2013-10-15T11:34:25.643Z · LW · GW

What about artists who think that reducing things to their bare essentials is the essence of art? Or styles like - well, broadly speaking, anime (or caricatures in general) - that are based on the emphasis of certain basic forms? Or writers like Eric Hoffer - "Wordiness is a sickness of American writing. Too many words dilute and blur ideas. [...] If you have nothing to say and want badly to say it, then all the words in all the dictionaries will not suffice." ?

Comment by Estarlio on Rationality Quotes October 2013 · 2013-10-14T20:06:47.545Z · LW · GW

Setting a price isn't necessarily a decision made with respects to the interests of one company. Not knowing precisely how the marketing groups for medical goods in the US are set up, beyond that they're pretty abusive, I don't care to argue that one way or the other though.

Comment by Estarlio on Rationality Quotes October 2013 · 2013-10-13T14:54:08.440Z · LW · GW

Depends on the price elasticity of demand. If you widen the access to the thing by lowering the price, it's possible that you might make more profit than someone who has fewer customers who they make a lot more profit per customer off of.

Comment by Estarlio on Rationality Quotes September 2013 · 2013-09-13T18:19:07.334Z · LW · GW

Then, to extend the analogy: Imagine that digging has potentially negative utility as well as positive. I claim to have buried both a large number of nukes and a magical wand in the garden.

In order to motivate you to dig, you probably want some evidence of magical wands. In this context that would probably be recursively improving systems where, occasionally, local variations rapidly acquire super-dominance over their contemporaries when they reach some critical value. Evolution probably qualifies there - other bipedal frames with fingers aren't particularly dominant over other creatures in the same way that we are, but at some point we got smart enough to make weapons (note that I'm not saying that was what intelligence was for though) and from then on, by comparison to all other macroscopic land-dwelling forms of life, we may as well have been god.

And since then that initial edge in dominance has only ever allowed us to become more dominant. Creatures afraid of wild animals are not able to create societies with guns and nuclear weapons - you'd never have the stability for long enough.

In order to motivate you not to dig, you probably want some evidence of nukes. In this context, recursively - I'm not sure improving is the right word here - systems with a feedback state, that create large amounts of negative value. Well, to a certain extent that's a matter of perspective - from the perspective of extinct species the ascendancy of humanity would probably not be anything to cheer about, if they were in a position to appreciate it. But I suspect it can at least stand on its own that it tends to be the case that failure cascades are easier to make than cascade successes. One little thing goes wrong on your rocket and then the situation multiplies; a small error in alignment rapidly becomes a bigger one; or the timer on your patriot battery is losing a fraction of a second and over time your perception of where the missiles are is off significantly. - it's only with significant effort that we create systems where errors don't multiply.

(This is analogous to altering your expected value of information - like if earlier you'd said you didn't want to dig and I'd said, 'well there's a million bucks there' instead - you'd probably want some evidence that I had a million bucks, but given such evidence the information you'd gain from digging would be worth more.)

This seems to be fairly closely analogous to Elizer's claims about AI, at least if I've understood them correctly, that we have to hit an extremely small target and it's more likely that we're going to blow ourselves to itty-bitty pieces/cover the universe in paperclips if we're just fooling around hoping to hit on it by chance.

If you believe that such is the case, then the only people you're going to want looking for that magic wand - if you let anyone do it at all - are specialists with particle detectors - indeed if your garden is in the middle of a city you'll probably make it illegal for kids to play around anywhere near the potential bomb site.

Now, we may argue over quite how strongly we have to believe in the possible existence of magitech nukes to justify the cost of fencing off the garden - personally I think the statement:

if you take a thorough look at actually existing creatures, it's not clear that smarter creatures have any tendency to increase their intelligence.

Is to constrain what you'll accept for potential evidence pretty dramatically - we're talking about systems in general, not just individual people, and recursively improving systems with high asymptotes relative to their contemporaries have happened before.

It's not clear to me that the second claim he makes is even particularly meaningful:

In the real-world, self-reinforcing processes eventually asymptote. So even if smarter creatures were able to repeatedly increase their own intelligence, we should expect the incremental increases to get smaller and smaller over time, not skyrocket to infinity.

Sure, I think that they probably won't go to infinity - but I don't see any reason to suspect that they won't converge on a much higher value than our own native ability. Pretty much all of our systems do, from calculators to cars.

We can even argue over how you separate the claims that something's going to foom from the false claims of such (I'd suggest, initially, just seeing how many claims that something was going to foom have actually been made within the domain of technological artefacts, it may be that the base-line credibility is higher than we think.) But that's a body of research that Caplan, as far as I'm aware, hasn't forwarded. It's not clear to me that it's a body of research with the same order of difficulty as creating an actual AI either. And, in its absence, it's not clear to me that to answer in effect, "I'll believe it when I see the mushroom cloud." is a particularly rational response.

Comment by Estarlio on Rationality Quotes September 2013 · 2013-09-13T16:39:30.791Z · LW · GW

Ah, I think I follow you.

Absence of evidence isn't necessarily a weak kind of evidence.

If I tell you there's a dragon sitting on my head, and you don't see a dragon sitting on my head, then you can be fairly sure there's not a dragon on my head.

On the other hand, if I tell you I've buried a coin somewhere in my magical 1cm deep garden - and you dig a random hole and don't find it - not finding the coin isn't strong evidence that I've not buried one. However, there there's so much potential weak evidence against. If you've dug up all but a 1cm square of my garden - the coin's either in that 1cm or I'm telling porkies, and what are the odds that - digging randomly - you wouldn't have come across it by then? You can be fairly sure, even before digging up that square, that I'm fibbing.

Was what you meant analogous to one of those scenarios?

Comment by Estarlio on Rationality Quotes September 2013 · 2013-09-13T14:54:44.385Z · LW · GW

"The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently."

  • Nietzsche, Morgenröte. Gedanken über die moralischen Vorurteile
Comment by Estarlio on Rationality Quotes September 2013 · 2013-09-13T14:40:53.568Z · LW · GW

when there is no possibility of evidence against a proposition, then a possibility of evidence in favour of the proposition would violate the Bayes theorem.

I'm not sure how you could have such a situation, given that absence of expected evidence is evidence of the absence. Do you have an example?

Comment by Estarlio on P/S/A - Sam Harris offering money for a little good philosophy · 2013-09-13T13:38:52.582Z · LW · GW

I don't see why you'd think it faulty to mention the possibilities there - remember I'm not claiming that they're true, just that they might be potential explanations for the suggested observation.

If you want to share the reason for the downvote, I promise not to dispute it so you don't have to worry about it turning into a time sink and to give positive karma.

Comment by Estarlio on P/S/A - Sam Harris offering money for a little good philosophy · 2013-09-13T00:33:57.489Z · LW · GW

Is it some logical argument she is unable to find a fault in? If so, then how come there are multiple schools of philosophy disagreeing on the basics?

Maybe their level of logic is just low, or they have bad thought habits in applying that logic. Or maybe there's some system level reward for not agreeing (I imagine that publish||die might have such an effect.)

Comment by Estarlio on Rationality Quotes September 2013 · 2013-09-12T16:04:09.730Z · LW · GW

I don't disagree with you on any particular point there. However, the quote I was responding to wasn't, as I see it, attempting to explore the cost/benefit of raising minimum wage or subsidising the future of children. It was stating that they just shouldn't have kids - and in that much represented an effective blank cheque. That seems the opposite of your, much more nuanced, approach; bound by implications of fact and reason that are going to be specific to particular issues and cases and thus can't be generalised in the same way.

Comment by Estarlio on Rationality Quotes September 2013 · 2013-09-12T15:10:35.882Z · LW · GW


It is true that a woman in such a situation would be well advised to arm herself. However, a complaint about being raped - personal emotional traumas aside - would be a complaint about the necessity of doing so as much as anything else. The response that she should'a armed herself then doesn't address the real meat of the issue; what sort of society we live in, how we want to relate to one another; whether we're to respond with compassion or dismissive brutalism (or at what point on that scale.)

There are things that are the result of natural laws - you jump off a building with no precautions, then you're probably gonna go splat. It makes limited sense to interpret those as complaints about the laws of physics. So, the balance in those cases swings more towards preventative advice in a way that's rarely the case with issues that are the result of human action.

Comment by Estarlio on Rationality Quotes September 2013 · 2013-09-12T14:04:36.125Z · LW · GW

This isn't rational. It's just elitist snobbery. You can use the exact same structure of argument with respect to anything:

Aw, you got raped? Well who told you to go into a room with your friend without a handgun on you? Didn't you know you should be prepared to kill every man around you in case they turn on you?

Structurally identical.

It's an ideology of knives in the dark, the screams of the dying and enslaved, and the blood red light of fire on steel. Those who honestly endorse its underlying principles would just as happily endorse any barbarism on the strength of the defeated's inability to escape it, provided it went on at some suitable distance from them.

Why not be honest and sum up the only real thing it says? - Vae victus.

Comment by Estarlio on Rationality Quotes September 2013 · 2013-09-10T15:57:27.072Z · LW · GW

Why are extremism and fanaticism correlated? In a world of Bayesians, there'd be a negative correlation. People would hold extreme views lightly, for at least three reasons. [...]

For fairness sake.

Comment by Estarlio on Rationality Quotes September 2013 · 2013-09-10T13:25:13.946Z · LW · GW

Strategic nuclear weapons - the original and most widespread nuclear weapons - cannot be used with restraint.

They can. One of the problems that America had, going into the 80s, was that its ICBM force was becoming vulnerable to a potential surprise attack by the CCCP. This concerned them because only the ICBM force, at the time, had the sort of accuracy necessary for taking out hardened targets in a limited strike - like their opponent's strategic forces. And they were understandably reluctant to rely on systems that could only be used for city busting - i.e. the submarine force.

If you're interested in this, I suggest the - contemporary with that problem - documentary First Strike.

Comment by Estarlio on Rationality Quotes September 2013 · 2013-09-10T13:20:19.392Z · LW · GW

I've always wondered why, on discovering nuclear weapons, the leaders of America didn't continually pour a huge budget into it - stockpile a sufficient number of them and then destroy all their potential peers.

I can't think of any explanation bar the morality in their culture. They could certainly have secured sufficient material for the task.

Comment by Estarlio on Rationality Quotes September 2013 · 2013-09-10T13:13:41.253Z · LW · GW

Because it's really really useful?

Comment by Estarlio on High School, Human Capital, Signaling and College Admissions · 2013-09-08T23:15:11.046Z · LW · GW

What’s an example from your own life where building human capital and signaling quality to colleges have come into conflict? How did you resolve the conflict? Do you think you made the right choice? Is there anything you would have done differently?

When I planned to apply for university I had to find somewhere that would let me take A Levels, the cost of A Levels outside of school being prohibitive. Anyway, I eventually found a school that would let me do it. Naturally, however, the requirement to be in school from 8:30-15:00 allowed me far less time than I'd normally have to learn and pursue my own interests - the environment was utter hell if you were trying to learn in your free time. They didn't even really have a library you could go if you wanted somewhere quiet to think; they had a small room with books in that backed onto an open-plan classroom but it wasn't really suitable.

I resolved this by convincing the school change their registration procedures for the sixth form so that people could sign themselves in and out of school when they weren't meant to be in class.

Do I think I made the right choice? Well, it wasn't a bad choice. But there were better choices - I've since learned that some universities let you join without pre-existing qualifications if you do a bit of hoop-jumping, and I'd probably do that if I were doing it over again. Given what I knew then though I don't think I could have done much better.

Comment by Estarlio on Rationality Quotes September 2013 · 2013-09-05T22:51:39.125Z · LW · GW

IIRC they decided not to use chemical weapons because they were under the impression that the Allies had developed comparable capabilities.

Comment by Estarlio on Rationality Quotes September 2013 · 2013-09-04T23:10:25.570Z · LW · GW

Foundations matter. Always and forever. Regardless of domain. Even if you meticulously plug all abstraction leaks, the lowest-level concepts on which a system is built will mercilessly limit the heights to which its high-level “payload” can rise. For it is the bedrock abstractions of a system which create its overall flavor. They are the ultimate constraints on the range of thinkable thoughts for designer and user alike. Ideas which flow naturally out of the bedrock abstractions will be thought of as trivial, and will be deemed useful and necessary. Those which do not will be dismissed as impractical frills — or will vanish from the intellectual landscape entirely. Line by line, the electronic shanty town grows. Mere difficulties harden into hard limits. The merely arduous turns into the impossible, and then finally into the unthinkable.


The ancient Romans could not know that their number system got in the way of developing reasonably efficient methods of arithmetic calculation, and they knew nothing of the kind of technological paths (i.e. deep-water navigation) which were thus closed to them.

Comment by Estarlio on A Rational Argument · 2013-09-04T23:03:04.043Z · LW · GW

Why? Assuming I vote randomly all I'm doing is increasing the noise to signal ratio. If everyone you force to do it votes randomly then it'll average out.

Comment by Estarlio on Rationality Quotes August 2013 · 2013-08-15T00:23:06.557Z · LW · GW

And, while you were writing, someone would provide the wanted answer ;)

Comment by Estarlio on Procedural Knowledge Gaps · 2013-08-14T14:50:06.363Z · LW · GW

Doing a wide range of tasks I'm not familiar with, and learning them well and quickly, has done wonders for my ability to just say, 'Fuck it, I'm me and I can do whatever I'm paid to. I've done stuff I didn't know how to do before.'

It also helps to know what the complexity of the task is have little self-affirming narratives - if you know that people who you don't consider smarter than yourself have done something, and have some idea about stacked complexity, then it becomes a lot easier to say something like "This really isn't that complicated, I just don't know how to do it yet, but that guy does it and he's an idiot - and he probably didn't spend years really learning it."

If you can draw parallels with what you already know, that can help too.

Comment by Estarlio on Rationality Quotes August 2013 · 2013-08-11T17:59:38.962Z · LW · GW

Is the distribution for mathematicians in general stochastic with respect to IQ and a wealthy upbringing / proximity to cultural centres that reward such learning? That might give you signs of whether wealth / culture is a third correlate.

Otherwise, one way or the other, I'm not sure one person shifts the prob any appreciable distance.

Comment by Estarlio on Rationality Quotes August 2013 · 2013-08-07T17:35:56.669Z · LW · GW

Of course all societies have punishments, but that doesn't address the point you were responding to which was that Linus was more on the power-play end of the spectrum. The ratio of reward to punishment, your leverage as determined by the availability of viable alternatives, matters in determining which end of that spectrum you're on.

And that has implications for the quality of work you can get from people - while you may be punished for blatantly shoddy work, you're not going to be punished for not doing your best if people don't know what that is. The threat of being fired can only make people work so hard.

Comment by Estarlio on Welcome to Less Wrong! (6th thread, July 2013) · 2013-08-07T12:46:45.936Z · LW · GW

Are misunderstanding more common over the telephone for things like negotiation?

Comment by Estarlio on Rationality Quotes August 2013 · 2013-08-07T12:43:29.946Z · LW · GW

Note that management of any kind involves creating incentives for your employees/subordinates/those-who-listen-to-you. The incentives include both carrots and sticks and sticks are punishments and are meant to be so.

Punishments seem to have rapidly decreasing returns, especially given the availability of alternatives that are less abusive. Otherwise we'd threaten to people when we wanted to make them more productive, rather than rewarding them - which most of the time we don't above a low level of performance.

Comment by Estarlio on Rationality Quotes August 2013 · 2013-08-05T16:06:31.470Z · LW · GW

Well, I think the thrust of the quote had more to do with being confident in your own projects. But I'll try to do an answer to your point because I think it's important to recognise the limitations of domain specialists - some of whom just aren't very good at their jobs.

If you're not on your team of expert surgeons, you're gonna be screwed if they're not actually as expert as you might think they were. There's a bit in What Do You Care What Other People Think? Where Feynman is talking about his first wife's hospitalisation - and how he had done some reading around the area and come up with the idea that it might be TB - and didn't push for the idea because he thought that the doctors knew what they were doing.

Then, sometime later, the bump began to change. It got bigger—or maybe it was smaller—and she got a fever. The fever got worse, so the family doctor decided Arlene should go to the hospital. She was told she had typhoid fever. Right away, as I still do today, I looked up the disease in medical books and read all about it. When I went to see Arlene in the hospital, she was in quarantine—we had to put on special gowns when we entered her room, and so on. The doctor was there, so I asked him how the Wydell test came out—it was an absolute test for typhoid fever that involved checking for bacteria in the feces. He said, "It was negative." "What? How can that be!" I said. "Why all these gowns, when you can't even find the bacteria in an experiment? Maybe she doesn't have typhoid fever!" The result of that was that the doctor talked to Arlene's parents, who told me not to interfere. "After all, he's the doctor. You're only her fiancé." I've found out since that such people don't know what they're doing, and get insulted when you make some suggestion or criticism. I realize that now, but I wish I had been much stronger then and told her parents that the doctor was an idiot—which he was—and didn't know what he was doing. But as it was, her parents were in charge of it.

Anyway, after a little while, Arlene got better, apparently: the swelling went down and the fever went away. But after some weeks the swelling started again, and this time she went to another doctor. This guy feels under her armpits and in her groin, and so on, and notices there's swelling in those places, too. He says the problem is in her lymphatic glands, but he doesn't yet know what the specific disease is. He will consult with other doctors. As soon as I hear about it I go down to the library at Princeton and look up lymphatic diseases, and find "Swelling of the Lymphatic Glands. (1) Tuberculosis of the lymphatic glands. This is very easy to diagnose . . ."—so I figure this isn't what Arlene has, because the doctors are having trouble trying to figure it out.

[Feynman moves onto less likely possibilities]

One of the diseases I told Arlene about was Hodgkin's disease. When she next saw her doctor, she asked him about it: "Could it be Hodgkin's disease?" He said, "Well, yes, that's a possibility." When she went to the county hospital, the doctor wrote the following diagnosis: "Hodgkin's disease—?" So I realized that the doctor didn't know any more than I did about this problem. The county hospital gave Arlene all sorts of tests and X-ray treatments for this "Hodgkin's disease—?" and there were special meetings to discuss this peculiar case. I remember waiting for her outside, in the hall. When the meeting was over, the nurse wheeled her out in a wheelchair. All of a sudden a little guy comes running out of the meeting room and catches up with us. "Tell me," he says, out of breath, "do you spit up blood? Have you ever coughed up blood?" The nurse says, "Go away! Go away! What kind of thing is that to ask of a patient!"—and brushes him away. Then she turned to us and said, "That man is a doctor from the neighborhood who comes to the meetings and is always making trouble. That's not the kind of thing to ask of a patient!" I didn't catch on. The doctor was checking a certain possibility, and if I had been smart, I would have asked him what it was. Finally, after a lot of discussion, a doctor at the hospital tells me they figure the most likely possibility is Hodgkin's disease. He says, "There will be some periods of improvement, and some periods in the hospital. It will be on and off, getting gradually worse. There's no way to reverse it entirely. It's fatal after a few years."

[Gets convinced to lie to her that it's Hodgkins - lie falls through]

For some months now Arlene's doctors had wanted to take a biopsy of the swelling on her neck, but her parents didn't want it done—they didn't want to "bother the poor sick girl." But with new resolve, I kept working on them, explaining that it's important to get as much information as possible. With Arlene's help, I finally convinced her parents. A few days later, Arlene telephones me and says, "They got a report from the biopsy." "Yeah? Is it good or bad?" "I don't know. Come over and let's talk about it." When I got to her house, she showed me the report. It said, "Biopsy shows tuberculosis of the lymphatic gland." That really got me. I mean, that was the first goddamn thing on the list! I passed it by, because the book said it was easy to diagnose, and because the doctors were having so much trouble trying to figure out what it was. I assumed they had checked the obvious case. And it was the obvious case: the man who had come running out of the meeting room asking "Do you spit up blood?" had the right idea. He knew what it probably was!

I felt like a jerk, because I had passed over the obvious possibility by using circumstantial evidence—which isn't any good—and by assuming the doctors were more intelligent than they were. Otherwise, I would have suggested it right off, and perhaps the doctor would have diagnosed Arlene's disease way back then as "tuberculosis of the lymphatic gland—?" I was a dope. I've learned, since then.


Point being, disinvolving yourself from decisions is not a no-risk choice, and specialists aren't necessarily wise just because they've sat through the classes and crammed some sort of knowledge into their heads to get a degree. Assigning trust is a difficult subject.

There's a book called The Speed of Trust - and that's pretty much what you give up in being involved in complex decisions where you're not a specialist and where the specialists are actually really good at their jobs - a bit of speed.

Comment by Estarlio on Rationality Quotes August 2013 · 2013-08-05T14:53:40.549Z · LW · GW

Gregory (Scotland Yard detective): “Is there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention?”

Holmes: “To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.”

Gregory: “The dog did nothing in the night-time.”

Holmes: “That was the curious incident.”

  • “Silver Blaze” (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)
Comment by Estarlio on Rationality Quotes August 2013 · 2013-08-04T19:57:52.115Z · LW · GW

That's a hard problem, with no reasonable way to measure it in in a large population in sight, or even direction of the relationship taken into account. Ideally you'd take a bunch of kids and look at their brains and then see how they grew up and see whether you could find anything that altered the distribution in similar cases - but ....

Well, you see the problem? It's a sort of twiddling your thumbs style studying, rather than addressing more immediate problems that might do something at a reasonable price/timeline.

Comment by Estarlio on Rationality Quotes August 2013 · 2013-08-03T18:39:09.908Z · LW · GW

I remember a response to this which goes something like - when you have eliminated the impossible, what remains may be more improbable than having made a mistake in one of your earlier impossibility proofs.

Comment by Estarlio on Arguments Against Speciesism · 2013-08-02T16:31:02.264Z · LW · GW

If you view human potential as valuable then you end up saying something like that people should maximise that via breeding up to whatever the resource boundary is for meaningful human life. Unless that is implicitly bound - which I think to be a reasonable assumption to make for most people's likely world views.

Comment by Estarlio on Rationality Quotes August 2013 · 2013-08-02T14:09:33.651Z · LW · GW

Or thinks he's got better leverage than you.

Comment by Estarlio on Arguments Against Speciesism · 2013-07-29T15:27:43.125Z · LW · GW

The "loss of all the future experiences of the babies" bit doesn't apply here. Animals stay creatures without moral worth through their whole lives, and so the "suffering and death of the animals" here has no moral value.

Pigs can meaningfully play computer games. Dolphins can communicate with people. Wolves have complex social structures and hunting patterns. I take all of these to be evidence of intelligence beyond the battery farmed infant level. They're not as smart as humans but it's not like they've got 0 potential for developing intelligence. Since birth seems to deprive your of a clear point in this regard - what's your criteria for being smart enough to be morally considerable, and why?

Comment by Estarlio on Arguments Against Speciesism · 2013-07-29T13:44:50.330Z · LW · GW

Granted, but do you really think that they're going to be so incredibly tasty that the value people gain from eating babies over not eating babies outweighs the loss of all the future experiences of the babies?

To link that back to the marginal cases argument, which I believe - correct me if I'm wrong - you were responding to: Do you think that meat diets are just that much more tasty than vegetarian diets that the utility gained for human society outweighs the suffering and death of the animals? (Which may not be the only consideration, but I think at this point - may be wrong - you'd admit isn't nothing.) If so, have you made an honest attempt to test this assumption for yourself by, for instance, getting a bunch of highly rated veg recipes and trying to be vegetarian for a month or so?

Comment by Estarlio on Arguments Against Speciesism · 2013-07-29T12:29:35.393Z · LW · GW

How do you reconcile that with:

a society in which some babies were (factory-)farmed would be totally fine as long as the people are okay with it

This definitely hits the absurdity heuristic, but I think it is fine. The problem with the Babyeaters in Three Worlds Collide is not that they eat their young but that "the alien children, though their bodies were tiny, had full-sized brains. They could talk. They protested as they were eaten, in the flickering internal lights that the aliens used to communicate."

Comment by Estarlio on Arguments Against Speciesism · 2013-07-29T11:47:54.233Z · LW · GW

So, presumably, if you were destined for a life of horrifying squicky pain some time in the next couple of weeks, you'd approve of me just killing you. I mean ideally you'd probably like to be killed as close to the point HSP as possible but still, the future seems pretty important when determining whether you want to persist - it's even in the text you linked

A death is bad because of the effect it has on those that remain and because it removes the possibilty for future joy on the part of the deceased.

So, bearing in mind that you don't always seem to be performing at your normal level of thought - e.g. when you're asleep - how do you bind that principle so that it applies to you and not infants?

Comment by Estarlio on Arguments Against Speciesism · 2013-07-29T00:14:03.273Z · LW · GW

How do you avoid it being kosher to kill you when you're asleep - and thus unable to perform at your usual level of consciousness - if you don't endorse some version of the potential principle?

If you were to sleep and never wake, then it wouldn't necessarily seem wrong, even from my perspective, to kill you. It seems like your potential for waking up that makes it wrong.

Comment by Estarlio on The Robots, AI, and Unemployment Anti-FAQ · 2013-07-28T19:37:15.617Z · LW · GW

Why is the IQ 70 kid not able to do laundry as so many others once did earlier, if the economy is so productive - shouldn't someone be able to hire him in his area of Ricardian comparative advantage?

The left tail on the distribution for inventive, creative, bright people seems highly likely to be fatter than the right tail. You need to be genetically gifted enough and have had the right encouragement, and lived in the right intellectual environment, to go on to create neat inventions and research and so on - that automation supposedly frees people up for/ If it is, then rather than freeing people up for better jobs, it frees people up to compete for a finite number of worse jobs.

Or, in other words, it seems to me like there's a non-trivial possibility that the people who were doing admin tasks are being displaced into doing laundry tasks instead. That what would have been being done by the 70 IQ kid is now being done by a 100 IQ adult.

Comment by Estarlio on No, Really, I've Deceived Myself · 2013-07-14T13:03:26.820Z · LW · GW

suffice to say there are questions unanswered by viewing only the scientific side

Do you have a list?

Comment by Estarlio on A Gamification Of Education: a modest proposal based on the Universal Decimal Classification and RPG skill trees · 2013-07-08T03:09:08.994Z · LW · GW

I'm reminded of a couple of students at a German university last year who studied all the material by dividing up the classes between them and exchanging notes, took all the exams, and passed in a few months. The university then turned around and sued them for studying too fast.

It is not in a University's interests to do a good job. It's like any other company: The aim is to extract the most $$$ from you while they give up the least value in return.

In highly competitive markets this leads to fairly marginal profits. But formal education is not a competitive market. Not at all. Very tightly regulated.

The competition for education comes almost entirely around costs for most people. They view education as an expense, not as an investment - which is quite reasonable when you consider the likely quality they're going to get - and aim to minimise that expense. Offer people a better education and the majority of them won't be willing to pay much for it, offer them a cheaper education though, or a faster one - which amounts to more or less the same thing....

That's the financial side of things anyway, and one of the reasons I think your idea's just never going to happen.



One would determine what to learn based on statistical studies of what elements are, by and large, most desired by employers of/predictors of professional success in a certain field you want to work in.

  1. I don't know, but I wouldn't think this data's going to be available or reliable. Google did their own research on this, which suggests to me that the data wasn't available when they looked for it elsewhere. One thing's just that everyone's going to record things slightly differently - there's not an industry standard for measuring this sort of stuff that I'm aware of. The other is that most places are not particularly rational about their HR procedures - there are a set of skills that go into even the basic recording of data that I'd not expect them to have. I'd expect it to be more like they sit there with a sheet of paper that they're marking 1-10 based on their subjective opinion of your answer to a question. That's probably the extent of any data most people will be expected to generate and, perhaps, keep.

In the case of desired by employers I suspect you might find the data was actually contradictory to predictors of success a lot of the time too. I know, when I go for interviews, I tone down a lot of the qualities that let me do things easily - the corollary of don't dress better than the boss is don't act smarter/more skilled than the boss - most people like to hire people they can use as tools for their own success, not colleagues who they have to work with. Especially considering lots of economic behaviour seems to be self-justifying/rent-seeking.


That said, I would imagine that what you really want to do is to follow up with people who've left university, both those who won and those who lost, and ask them what they wish they'd known then that they know now. Certainly, a few years out of the gate, I could give my university a great deal of feedback.


2 . The incentives in HR seem to be to be risk averse. To find reasons not to take people on. If you hire someone and they do really well then you don't get rewarded, whereas if you hire someone and they're awful then your job is at risk. If that's heavily weighted in the decision maker's consideration, then giving people more granular data will result in dramatically fewer hires, since the probability of a concurrent set of criteria being fulfilled is the multiple of its individual probabilities. Even if the individual probabilities are quite high, HR managers will be able to talk their way into using a great number of individual criteria and then you'll be hung.

3 . It makes the market more competitive, not necessarily in a good way. Students take on a great deal of the financial risk in education these days. Which honestly seems the wrong way around, but there you go. If rich people can afford to grind their way higher up the tech tree, then you're essentially pricing poor people out of the market. The rich person only has to be ahead by one or two points - you're probably going to pick someone who's even slightly better on paper over someone worse. So there's an incentive to have large steps in your pricing.

Comment by Estarlio on Rationality Quotes July 2013 · 2013-07-07T02:01:39.204Z · LW · GW

Do you have data for prevalence in this respect?

As a martial artist and as someone whose been in fear of getting the crap knocked out of them in the past this just doesn't line up with my experience. There's a degree of focus that goes on in fights that largely excluded feelings of excitement, it's not like being on a rollercoaster. At least not for me. Fighting feels more like floating if it can be said to be like anything,I just get incredibly tuned in and a lot stronger than usual.

Admittedly I don't think everyone experiences it like that, some people probably do enjoy it.

Comment by Estarlio on Rationality Quotes July 2013 · 2013-07-04T22:59:11.064Z · LW · GW

Because the consequences of losing are so terrible, people tend to avoid serious fighting if they can. Being hunted - a far more likely state - is decidedly un-fun.

Comment by Estarlio on Rationality Quotes July 2013 · 2013-07-03T11:36:38.727Z · LW · GW

Depends how great the variance is. Sounds better if you say that people benefit from having things they're learning related to familiar topics.

Comment by Estarlio on Rationality Quotes July 2013 · 2013-07-02T13:07:53.208Z · LW · GW

Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare.”

I believe that one's meant to be a Japanese proverb.

Comment by Estarlio on Rationality Quotes July 2013 · 2013-07-02T12:14:47.335Z · LW · GW

Virtue of flawed research insiders won't not criticise the flaws, but they will follow up on them with further studies expanding on a point or fixing a methodology.

The problem that Roberts might be criticising is the sort of thinking that goes: I've made a criticism, now we can forget about the thing.

Comment by Estarlio on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 19, chapter 88-89 · 2013-07-02T11:58:59.124Z · LW · GW

I wonder whether you could explain the way of it to them and then obliviate them so that they only remember the decision to do it but not the why.

Or perhaps you could have someone who agreed to follow your orders without knowing why, specifically for the purpose of doing things with time-turners, rotate the duty through your inner circle so you don't end up with a drone.

Comment by Estarlio on An attempt at a short no-prerequisite test for programming inclination · 2013-07-01T21:19:31.129Z · LW · GW

I suspect this is more confusing because of the way it's written - especially the last step which I'd imagine is where most people are falling down - than because of it really being complicated.

Comment by Estarlio on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 19, chapter 88-89 · 2013-07-01T16:16:42.942Z · LW · GW

Ah, but will Squirrel? He already knows that Harry doesn't think of messing around with souls as something that bad.

Comment by Estarlio on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 19, chapter 88-89 · 2013-07-01T16:01:24.316Z · LW · GW

Even if 75ths predictions aren't just luck, you don't have enough information to meaningfully update across such a broad reference class. If it's got to overcome the weight of everyone I think is speaking with too much confidence on the other end of the lever, it's not going to move far enough to be noticeable.