AvE: Assistance via Empowerment 2020-06-30T22:07:50.220Z · score: 12 (2 votes)
The Economic Consequences of Noise Traders 2020-06-14T17:14:59.343Z · score: 45 (14 votes)
Facebook AI: A state-of-the-art open source chatbot 2020-04-29T17:21:25.050Z · score: 9 (3 votes)
Are there any naturally occurring heat pumps? 2020-04-13T05:24:16.572Z · score: 14 (8 votes)
Can we use Variolation to deal with the Coronavirus? 2020-03-18T14:40:35.090Z · score: 11 (5 votes)
FactorialCode's Shortform 2019-07-30T22:53:24.631Z · score: 1 (1 votes)


Comment by factorialcode on [Crowdfunding] LessWrong podcast · 2020-07-06T06:19:02.744Z · score: 5 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, that's pretty pricy. Google is telling me that they can do 1 million characters/month for free using a wavenet. That might be good enough.

Comment by factorialcode on [Crowdfunding] LessWrong podcast · 2020-07-05T15:35:30.813Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

What's the going rate for audio recordings on Fiverr?

Comment by factorialcode on FactorialCode's Shortform · 2020-06-23T19:18:13.138Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

With the ongoing drama that is currently taking place. I'm worried that the rationalist community will find itself inadvertently caught up in the culture war. This might cause a large influx of new users who are more interested in debating politics than anything else on LW.

It might be a good idea to put a temporary moratorium/barriers on new signups to the site in the event that things become particularly heated.

Comment by factorialcode on SlateStarCodex deleted because NYT wants to dox Scott · 2020-06-23T16:34:19.058Z · score: 5 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Organizations, and entire nations for that matter, can absolutely be made to "feel fear". The retaliation just needs to be sufficiently expensive for the organization. Afterwards, it'll factor in the costs of that retaliation when deciding how to act. If the cost is large enough, it won't do things that will trigger retaliation.

Comment by factorialcode on Image GPT · 2020-06-21T18:05:50.613Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

There is no guarantee that it is learning particularly useful representations just because it predicts pixel-by-pixel well which may be distributed throughout the GPT,

Personally, I felt that that wasn't really surprising either. Remember that this whole deep learning thing started with exactly what OpenAI just did. Train a generative model of the data, and then fine tune it to the relevant task.

However, I'll admit that the fact that theres an optimal layer to tap into, and that they showed that this trick works specifically with transformer autoregressive models is novel to my knowledge.

Comment by factorialcode on Image GPT · 2020-06-19T04:47:04.268Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · LW · GW

This isn't news, we knew that sequence predictors could model images for almost a decade now and openAI did the same thing last year with less compute, but no one noticed.

Comment by factorialcode on Creating better infrastructure for controversial discourse · 2020-06-17T02:45:30.834Z · score: 17 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I'll quote myself:

Many of the users on LW have their real names and reputations attached to this website. If LW were to come under this kind of loosely coordinated memetic attack, many people would find themselves harassed and their reputations and careers could easily be put in danger. I don't want to sound overly dramatic, but the entire truth seeking and AI safety project could be hampered by association.

That's why even though I remain anonymous, I think it's best if I refrain from discussing these topics at anything except the meta level on LW. Even having this discussion strikes me as risky. That doesn't mean that we shouldn't discuss these topics at all. But it needs to be on a place like r/TheMotte where there is no attack vector. This includes using different usernames so we can't be traced back here. Even then, the reddit AEO and the admins are technically weak points.

Comment by factorialcode on Simulacra Levels and their Interactions · 2020-06-15T21:17:56.100Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'm going to second the request for a title change and propose:

Simulacra levels and their interactions, with applications to COVID-19

Comment by factorialcode on Self-Predicting Markets · 2020-06-11T18:50:06.178Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm getting 404 on that link. I think you need to get rid of the period.

Comment by factorialcode on Self-Predicting Markets · 2020-06-11T06:46:33.003Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Allow me to present an alternative/additional hypothesis:

The market is only as smart as the people who participate in it. In the long run, the smarter agents in the system will tend to accrue more wealth than the dumber agents. With this wealth they will be able to move markets and close arbitrage opportunities. However, if an army of barely litterate idiots are given access to complex leveraged financial instruments, free money, and they all decide to "buy the dip", it doesn't matter what the underlying value of the stock is. It's going up.

Not to say that what you're saying doesn't apply. It probably exacerbates the problem, and is the main mechanism behind market bubbles. But there are multiple examples of a very public stocks going up or getting a large amount of attention, and then completely unrelated companies with plausible sounding tickers also shooting up in tandem.

This only makes any sense in the world where the market is driven by fools eager to loose all their money or more.

Comment by factorialcode on We've built Connected Papers - a visual tool for researchers to find and explore academic papers · 2020-06-09T01:25:43.466Z · score: 9 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Alright, I've only played with this a bit, but I'm already finding interesting papers from years past that I've missed. I'm just taking old papers I've found notable and throwing them in and finding new reading material.

My only complaint is that it feels like there's actually too little "entropy" in the set of papers that get generated they're almost too similar, I end up having to make several hops through the graph to find something truly eye catching. It might also just be that papers I consider notable are few and far between.

Comment by factorialcode on Consequentialism and Accidents · 2020-06-07T20:07:41.901Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think virtue ethics and the "policy consequentialism" I'm gesturing at are different moral frameworks that will under the right circumstances make the same prescriptions. As I understand it, one assigns moral worth to outcomes, and the actions it prescribes are determined updatelessly. Whereas the other assigns moral worth to specific policies/policy classes implemented by agents, without looking at the consequences of those policies.

Comment by factorialcode on Everyday Lessons from High-Dimensional Optimization · 2020-06-06T23:20:41.733Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Epistemic status: Ramblings

I don't know how much you can really generalise these lessons. For instance, when you say:

How much slower is e-coli optimization compared to gradient descent? What’s the cost of experimenting with random directions, rather than going in the “best” direction? Well, imagine an inclined plane in n dimensions. There’s exactly one “downhill” direction (the gradient). The n-1 directions perpendicular to the gradient don’t go downhill at all; they’re all just flat. If we take a one-unit step along each of these directions, one after another, then we’ll take n steps, but only 1 step will be downhill. In other words, only ~O(1/n) of our travel-effort is useful; the rest is wasted.

In a two-dimensional space, that means ~50% of effort is wasted. In three dimensions, 70%. In a thousand-dimensional space, ~99.9% of effort is wasted.

This is true, but if I go in a spherically random direction, then if my step size is small enough, ~50% of my efforts will be rewarded, regardless of the dimensionality of the space.

How best to go about optimisation depends on the cost of carrying out optimisation, the structure of the landscape, and the relationship between the utility and the quality of the final solution.

Blind guess and check is sometimes a perfectly valid method when you don't need to find a very good solution, and you can't make useful assumptions about the structure of the set, even if the carnality of the possible solution set is massive.

I often don't even think "optimisation" and "dimensionality" are really natural ways of thinking about solving may real world engineering problems. There's definitely an optimisation component to engineering process, but it's often not central. Depending on circumstances, it can make more sense to think of engineering as "satisficing" vs "optimising". Essentially, you're trying to find a solution instead of the best solution, and the process used to solve the problem is going to look vastly different in one case vs another. This is similar to the notions of "goal directed agency" vs "utility maximisation".

In many cases when engineering, you're taking a problem and coming up with possible high level breakdowns of the problem. In the example of bridges, this could be deciding weather to use a cantilever bridge or a suspension bridge or something else entirely. From there, you solve the related sub-problems that have been created by the breakdown, until you've sufficiently fleshed out a solution that looks actionable.

The way you go about this depends on your optimisation budget. In increasing order of costs:

-You might go with the first solution that looks like it will work.

-You'll recursively do a sort of heuristic optimisation at each level, decide on a solution, and move to the next level

-You'll flesh out multiple different high level solutions and compare them.

. . .

-You search the entire space of possible solutions

This is where the whole "slack" thing and getting stuck in local optima comes back, even in high dimensional spaces. In many cases, you're often "committed" to a subset of the solution space. This could be because you've decided to design a cantilever bridge instead of a suspension bridge. It could also be because you need to follow a design you know will work, and X is the only design your predecessors have implemented IRL that has been sufficiently vetted. (This is especially common in aircraft design, as the margins of error are very tight) It could even be because you're comrades have all opted to go with a certain component, and so that component benefits from economies of scale and becomes the best choice even if another component would be objectively better we're it to be mass produced.(I'll leave it as an exercise to the reader to think of analogous problems in software engineering)

In all cases, you are forced to optimise within a subset of the search space. If you have the necessary slack, you can afford to explore the other parts of the search space to find better optima.

Comment by factorialcode on Consequentialism and Accidents · 2020-06-06T21:49:25.358Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I don't know about criticism, but the problem disappears once you start taking into account counterfactuals and the expected impact/utility of actions. Assuming the killer is in any way competent, then in expectation the killers actions are a net negative, because when you integrate over all possible worlds, his actions tend to get people killed, even if that's not how things turned out in this world. Likewise, the person who knowingly and voluntarily saves lives is going to generally succeed in expectation. Thus the person who willingly saves lives is acting more "moral" regardless of how things actually turn out.

This gets more murky when agents are anti-rational, and act in opposition to their preferences, even in expectation.

Comment by factorialcode on Inaccessible information · 2020-06-06T17:36:23.199Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It seems to me that you could get around this problem by training a model *() that takes M(x) and outputs M's beliefs about inaccessible statements about x after seeing x as input. You could train *() by generating latent information y and then using that information y to generate x. From there, compute M(x) and minimize the loss L(*(M(x)),y). If you do this for a sufficiently broad set of (x,y) pairs, you might have the ability to extract arbitrary information from M's beliefs. It might also be possible for *() to gain access to information that M "knows" in the sense that it has all the relevant information, but is still inaccessible to M since M lacks the logical machinery to put together that information.

This is similar to HS english multiple choice questions, where the reader must infer something about the text they just read. It's also similar to experiments where neuroscience researchers train a model to map brain cell activity in animals to what an animal sees.

Comment by factorialcode on Reexamining The Dark Arts · 2020-06-02T07:57:02.408Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

If everyone made sure their arguments looked visually pleasing, would that be sustainable? Yes, in fact the world would look more beautiful so it's totally allowed.

Here's a frequent problem with using the dark arts, they very frequently have higher order effects that hurt the user and the target in ways that are difficult to immediately foresee.

In the above proposal, there are frequently times when the most effective method of communication is to be blunt, or one argument is going to inherently be more ascetically pleasing than another. In these circumstances, if you start optimizing for making arguments pretty, then you will very likely sacrificing accuracy or effectiveness. Do this too much and your map starts to disconnect from the territory. From there it becomes easy to start taking actions that look correct according to your map, but are in fact suboptimal or outright detrimental.

Comment by factorialcode on GPT-3: a disappointing paper · 2020-05-31T07:19:08.632Z · score: 15 (10 votes) · LW · GW

When you boil it all down, Nostalgebraist is basically Reviewer #3.

That your response is to feign Socratic ignorance and sealion me here, disgenuously asking, 'gosh, I just don't know, gwern, what does this paper show other than a mix of SOTA and non-SOTA performance, I am but a humble ML practitioner plying my usual craft of training and finetuning', shows what extreme bad faith you are arguing in, and it is, sir, bullshit and I will have none of it.

Unless I'm missing some context in previous discussions, this strikes me as extremely antagonistic, uncharitable, and uncalled for. This pattern matches to the kind of shit I would expect to see on the political side of reddit, not LW.

Strongly downvoted.

Comment by factorialcode on Signaling: Why People Have Conversations · 2020-05-20T05:45:45.692Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think people information trading, and coordinating are good reasons for why humans evolved language, but I think that signalling gives a stronger explanation for why "casual" conversations happen so often.

That sounds reasonable. I still think there's more going on in casual conversation than signalling, as evidenced by signalling in conversation getting called out as "bragging" or "humble bragging" or "flexing", indicating that people would like you to do less signalling and more of whatever else casual conversation is used for.

Why do you think the signalling interpretation doesn't fully explain why relevance is necessary?

I think it the best argument against signalling fully explaining relevance is that there are situations where signalling is pointless or impossible, this happens between people who know each other very well as any attempt to signal in those cases would either be pointless or immediately called out. However, relevance is almost a universal property of all conversation and the norm rarely if ever breaks down. (Unless you're dealing with people who are really high, but I would explain this as a consequence of these people no longer being able to keep track of context even if they wanted to.)

Comment by factorialcode on Signaling: Why People Have Conversations · 2020-05-20T04:26:24.519Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think that this is one reason why people have conversations, but there are many others.

Things like:

-Information trading




However, I like that you pointed out that relevance is important in conversations. That's something I find myself taking for granted but is actually kind of weird when you think about it. I don't think signalling fully explains why relevance is necessary. I'll put forth an alternative hypothesis:

I think conversations having a requirement for being relevant is a consequence of language being an efficient code for communicating information that also efficiently uses and changes working memory. When you talk about something, you often need a good deal of background context to get these ideas across. This can manifest itself at the lowest levels of abstraction as the need to decipher homonyms and homophones, and at the highest level when understanding why someone would want to "blow up the plane". Keeping track of this context eats up working memory. If you switch topics frequently, you'll either have to keep track of multiple smaller contexts, or waste your time wiping and repopulating working memory after every context switch. However, by tackling one topic at a time and moving smoothly between related topics, all working memory can be devoted to keeping track of the conversation, and you only need to partially recontextualize infrequently.

Comment by factorialcode on Movable Housing for Scalable Cities · 2020-05-16T16:21:23.254Z · score: 12 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Moving companies already make the friction of moving from one location to another pretty low. I feel like having to move an entire house would make this far more complicated, and raise the cost by at least 1-2 orders of magnitude, even if the house was designed to do that.

However, the biggest issues with this proposal is that for the houses to not look like jawa sand crawlers, the city would have to provide some sort of static infrastructure. This could anything from plumbing, concrete foundations, roads, electricity, or even just a piece of paper that says you are allowed to park there. In all cases, you haven't actually gotten rid of the problem. The thing that becomes exorbitantly expensive and extracts rent from you now is just a plot of land now instead of a house.

Also note that this is literally the business model of a trailer park. Understanding why everyone except the poorest people prefer homes or apartments to those would probably be enlightening.

Comment by factorialcode on Why do you (not) use a pseudonym on LessWrong? · 2020-05-07T23:10:35.695Z · score: 7 (5 votes) · LW · GW

When I made this account, that was just what you did as part of the online culture. You picked a cool username and built a persona around it.

Now it's just basic OpSec to never associate anything with your real name unless it makes you look good and you can take it down later when the cultural tides change and that stops being true. I have several pseudonyms, one or more for each online community I participate in. This makes it far harder for people to tie together bits of information that they could use against me.

Comment by factorialcode on Maths writer/cowritter needed: how you can't distinguish early exponential from early sigmoid · 2020-05-06T22:07:29.806Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Isn't this really straight forward? I'm pretty sure ln(e^x) and ln(sigma(x)) only differ by about e^x + O(e^(2x)) when x < 0. You can't tell apart 2 curves that basically make the same predictions.

Comment by factorialcode on Individual Rationality Needn't Generalize to Rational Consensus · 2020-05-05T21:05:28.688Z · score: 9 (6 votes) · LW · GW

the "ideal" way to aggregate values is by linear combination of utility functions

This is not obvious to me. Can you elaborate?

Comment by factorialcode on Individual Rationality Needn't Generalize to Rational Consensus · 2020-05-05T06:24:16.381Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Explicit voting isn't even necessary for this effect to show up. This is an explanation of a notable effect wherein a group of people appear to hold logically inconsistent beliefs from the perspective of outsiders.

Examples: -My (political out-group) believes X and ~X -(Subreddit) holds inconsistent beliefs

Comment by factorialcode on Negative Feedback and Simulacra · 2020-04-29T03:04:59.118Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

“How do I find those?” you might ask. I don’t know.

I wonder if a better strategy is not to answer the question directly but to answer the question, "How can I reliably signal that that I'm operating on level 1?"

Comment by factorialcode on The Best Virtual Worlds for "Hanging Out" · 2020-04-27T22:41:52.384Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Unlike the previous options it doesn't have "proximity chat". It works better if you're interacting with a smallish group of people, who can all hear each other and participate in a single conversation.

Fortunately, Minecraft also has an excellent modding community:

Proximal chat:

VR Support:

Comment by factorialcode on Solar system colonisation might not be driven by economics · 2020-04-22T14:50:10.448Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I agree with the thrust of this article, but I think it will still look a lot like an economics driven expansion.

One of the things they teach in mining engineering is the notion of the "social license to operate". Essentially, everyone, from your local government, to the UN, to the nearby residents need to sign off on whatever it is that you're doing. For often quite legitimate reasons, mining has acquired a reputation as potentially environmentally disastrous. As a result, you need to effectively bribe the local residents. This is easy to do when the locals are poor third worlders who make a few dollars a day. However, the world will develop and more people will be lifted out of poverty and become more environmentally conscious, as a result the price of these licences will shoot up dramatically.

One of the greatest advantages of space are that there are no environmentalists or natives in space and the ones on earth can't muster the political will to stop you because environmental costs are much smaller and externalized. Once it becomes cheaper to blast off and mine in space than to wade through years of paperwork, you'll see immediate economic expansion into space.

Comment by factorialcode on Reflections on Arguing about Politics · 2020-04-14T01:12:23.115Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Also keep in mind that it's entirely possible for both of you to agree on all of the facts of a situation, but if you have different values, preferences, or utility functions, you can still disagree on policy.

Comment by factorialcode on An Orthodox Case Against Utility Functions · 2020-04-07T23:50:24.831Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

suppose I'm a general trying to maximize my side's chance of winning a war. Can I evaluate the probability that we win, given all of the information available to me? No - fully accounting for every little piece of info I have is way beyond my computational capabilities. Even reasoning through an entire end-to-end plan for winning takes far more effort than I usually make for day-to-day decisions. Yet I can say that some actions are likely to increase our chances of victory, and I can prioritize actions which are more likely to increase our chances of victory by a larger amount.

So, when and why are we able to get away with doing that?

AFAICT, the formalisms of agents that I'm aware of (Bayesian inference, AIXI etc.) set things up by supposing logical omniscience and that the true world generating our hypotheses is in the set of hypotheses and from there you can show that the agent will maximise expected utilty, or not get dutch booked or whatever. But humans, and ML algorithms for that matter, don't do that, we're able to get "good enough" results even when we know our models are wrong and don't capture a good deal of the underlying process generating our observations. Furthermore, it seems that empirically, the more expressive the model class we use, and the more compute thrown at the problem, the better these bounded inference algorithms work. I haven't found a good explanation of why this is the case beyond hand wavy "we approach logical omniscience as compute goes to infinity and our hypothesis space grows to encompass all computable hypotheses, so eventually our approximation should work like the ideal Bayesian one".

Comment by factorialcode on Conflict vs. mistake in non-zero-sum games · 2020-04-06T06:50:13.056Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I feel like that strategy is unsustainable in the long term. Eventually the cost of the search will get more and more expensive as the lower hanging fruit get picked.

Comment by factorialcode on Conflict vs. mistake in non-zero-sum games · 2020-04-06T05:44:20.192Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

So what happens to mistake theorists once they make it to the Pareto frontier?

Comment by factorialcode on Partying over Internet: Technological Aspects · 2020-04-05T18:39:08.099Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It has a high barrier to entry, but I I think VRchat and software like it is making a lot of progress towards solving the problems you bring up. Especially with body, eye, and facial expression tracking. Obviously, you still can't do things that involve physical touch, but keeping track of who's looking at who and making eye contact is possible. It also lets you make other gestures with your "hands" and arms to communicate. There's also some work going on to make it possible to play games in a social VR setting.

Here are some examples of this:

Comment by factorialcode on Taking Initial Viral Load Seriously · 2020-04-05T17:17:47.954Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · LW · GW

No he didn't. The idea and terminology has been bouncing around the rat-sphere a bit earlier than that.

Comment by factorialcode on The horse-sized duck: a theory of innovation, individuals and society · 2020-04-03T20:42:56.764Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

But we can build institutions that allow weirdos with strange obsessions to work on their obsessions.

I suspect this is far easier said than done and that for various reasons any such institution is unstable. Either it will fail to produce anything, in which case it will die out. Or it will become extremely successful and then get co-opted and by agents who enforce conformance norms. I don't fully understand why this is the case, but I suspect it's because conformance norms are an excellent way for people to coordinate, establish and maintain power.

Comment by factorialcode on April Fools: Announcing LessWrong 3.0 – Now in VR! · 2020-04-01T18:18:43.637Z · score: 22 (12 votes) · LW · GW

This is absolutely unacceptable.

How could they give us something so visually unappealing. So antithetical to this website's primary purpose of giving it's users social super stimulus? How could the mods have put in all of this work and overlooked the most crucial aspect of a VR room system? I am outraged, and frankly appalled that this was overlooked. How could they have built a VR platform that doesn't let me present myself using an anime girl avatar? We'll need to get started on GreaterWrong 2.0 just to fix this glaring UI issue.

If you've been part of LessWrong for any significant amount of time, you know how much effort we've spent thinking about how to avoid the problem of eternal september. Recently, after looking at our analytics for multiple minutes, we found out that a lot of users we don’t want have much slower computers, or are using their phones to browse LessWrong.

So, by making LessWrong basically unusable on those devices, we are ensuring a continued high-quality discussion experience on the site, by filtering only for rational people who spend exorbitant amounts of money on their computer hardware. We've already had great success with this strategy when we drastically increased the processing power necessary to run LessWrong 2.0 by moving everything to a javascript based web-app architecture, so we consider this a natural next step for us to take.

Ok but like, for real though.

Comment by factorialcode on Outperforming the human Atari benchmark · 2020-03-31T23:00:07.872Z · score: 16 (9 votes) · LW · GW

I'm going to parrot a comment from the hackernews discussion on this:

This whole evolution looks more and more like expert systems from 1980s where people kept adding more and more complexity to "solve" a specific problem. For RL, we started with simple DQN that was elegant but now the new algorithms looks like a massive hodge podge of band aids. NGU, as it is, extraordinarily complex and looks adhoc mix of various patches. Now on the top of NGU, we are also throwing in meta-controller and even bandits among other things to complete the proverbial kitchen sink. Sure, we get to call victory on Atari but this is far and away from elegant and beautiful. It would be surprising if this victory generalizes to other problems where folks have built different "expert systems" specific to those problems. So all this feels a lot like Watson winning jeopardy moment to me...

PS: Kudos to DeepMind for pushing for median or even betten bottom percentile instead of simplistic average metric which also hides variance.

A lot of techniques had to be thrown together to make this work, and in that sense it reminds me of rainbow DQN since they've thrown together a bunch of things to solve the problem. However, a quick glance at the tables in appendix H.4 of the paper makes it hard to tell if this is really much of an improvement over the other atari agents Deepmind has put together.

Comment by factorialcode on March Coronavirus Open Thread · 2020-03-20T05:13:11.074Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

A sneak peak at the coming economic impact:

Google trends: How to file for unemployment. 3-m&geo=US&q=how to file unemployment

Comment by factorialcode on Is the Covid-19 crisis a good time for x-risk outreach? · 2020-03-20T05:06:37.941Z · score: 12 (4 votes) · LW · GW

A month from now, however, will be a different matter.

I would wait longer than that. The repercussions of the virus are going to be large and will last a long time, ranging from unemployment and permanent lung damage to the deaths of loved ones. For quite a while I expect any talk about x-risk to come off to the average person as "we told you so, you should have listened to us" and would be like rubbing salt in a fresh wound. I would expect this to provoke a hostile reaction, burning social capital for a small shift in public opinion.

Comment by factorialcode on FactorialCode's Shortform · 2020-03-19T22:37:59.723Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Is there a way to filter out the corona virus posts? They're really starting to clog up the front page.

Comment by factorialcode on March Coronavirus Open Thread · 2020-03-16T05:23:00.877Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

There are probably many factors that make this different now than before. However, I suspect that markets today are just smarter than back then. As a result, they react much quicker to information than before. I don't think you can estimate the drop magnitude by the looking solely at the rate of decrease.

Comment by factorialcode on FactorialCode's Shortform · 2020-03-10T05:51:58.883Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

You're right, I've fixed the query, but I don't think it changes the conclusion much.

Comment by factorialcode on FactorialCode's Shortform · 2020-03-10T05:38:20.905Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The following links show LW's presence on multiple social media websites.




I think that with a single exception of at TIL post a week ago, I don't think we have much visibility or impact on the broader social media world.

I wonder if it would be a good idea for this site to have the ability to temporarily lock out users without a login in the event that something on this site goes viral. Did we see a spike in new users signing up around a week ago?

Comment by factorialcode on Credibility of the CDC on SARS-CoV-2 · 2020-03-10T05:09:17.676Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Is there anything more recent? That post was 11 years ago.

Comment by factorialcode on Name of Problem? · 2020-03-09T21:58:04.748Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'm ignoring higher-order functions, function pointers, and the like;

Ok, I'm still confused.



count as a expansion of:



f() := (0 == 0) ? 0 : 1


Comment by factorialcode on Name of Problem? · 2020-03-09T21:02:47.404Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Can you elaborate on what you mean by "expand"? Are you thinking of something analogous to beta-reduction in the lambda calculus?

Comment by factorialcode on March Coronavirus Open Thread · 2020-03-09T17:25:11.910Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Facebook marketplace?

Comment by factorialcode on Winning vs Truth – Infohazard Trade-Offs · 2020-03-08T18:11:02.710Z · score: 25 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, but you also have to take into account that by adopting this norm, others will attempt to decive you when they have private information. In an iterated game, you effectively end up deceiving yourself indirectly.

Comment by factorialcode on Credibility of the CDC on SARS-CoV-2 · 2020-03-08T17:25:01.031Z · score: 12 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I am shocked to hear that people need proof something is an infohazard before deciding that the issue needs to be discussed BEFORE posts like this go live.

I think there's a few issues here:

  1. When deciding to take down a post due to infohazard concerns, what should that discussion look like?

  2. How thorough should the vetting process for posts be before it gets posted, especially given infohazard and unilateralist curse considerations?

  3. Is this post an infohazard and if so how dangerous is it?

My previous comment was with regards to 1.

With regards to 2, it's a matter of thresholds. Especially on this forum, I'd want people to err heavily on the side of sharing information even if it might be dangerous. I wouldn't want people to stop themselves from sharing information unless the potential infohazard was extremely dangerous or a threat to the continued existence of this community. This is mainly due to the issues that crop up once you start blinding yourself. As I understand it, 2 people discussed this issue before posting, and deemed it worthwhile to post anyway. To me, that seems like more than enough caution for the level of risk that I've seen associated with this post. Granted, I don't think the authors took the unilateralists curse into account, and that's something that everyone should keep in mind when thinking about posting infohazards. It would also be nice to have some sort of "expanding circles of vetting" where a potentially spicy post can start off only being seen by select individuals, then people above a certain karma threshold, then behind a login by the rest of the LW community, and then as a post viewable and linkable by the general public.

With regards to 3. AFAIK, the issue became politicized the second the president issued a press conference claiming the CDC was doing a good job. This prompted every political actor set against the current presidency to go out of their way to find everything wrong with the CDC and the governments overall response to the pandemic. They then started shouting their findings from the rooftops. But this is only after much larger forums than LW have been questioning the response of both the CDC and the WHO for quite a while now.

The cat left the bag a month ago, and in a significantly less levelheaded and more memetically virulent form. This post won't change that, and is at worst a concise summary of what has already been said.

Comment by factorialcode on Credibility of the CDC on SARS-CoV-2 · 2020-03-07T22:20:13.218Z · score: 38 (15 votes) · LW · GW

I downvoted because I felt that this:

This is a harmful post, and should be deleted or removed.

Was outside of LW norms. It came off as a blunt attempt to shut down discussion, with very little in terms of justification for doing so. This is in no way a clear cut infohazard, and even if it was, I'm not convinced that shutting down discussion of things that might be infohazards is a good policy, especially on a relatively obscure site centered around truth seeking. Statements this confident about issues this complicated should only be said after some extensive analysis and discussion of the situation. jtm's presentation of the issue struck me as far more tempered and far less adversarial. I'd encourage Davidmanheim to supplant his comment with a more fleshed out version of his position.

Comment by factorialcode on Credibility of the CDC on SARS-CoV-2 · 2020-03-07T20:00:23.096Z · score: 17 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Important in these considerations is also the meta level issues that arise when dealing with appeals to consequences. There are also other considerations. For instance, if the fact that the cdc has made mistakes is never disseminated, then it becomes harder to hold it accountable for those mistakes and ensure that they don't happen again.