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Is anyone else worried about SOPA? Trying to do anything about it? 2011-12-20T14:07:44.396Z · score: 15 (32 votes)

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Comment by false_vacuum on What is your rationality blind spot? · 2011-12-27T00:47:47.947Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Well, another possibility would have been the negation of (what's usually called around here) Tegmark's Level IV. (That's probably not the only other possibility.)

ETA: Not that your interpretation isn't the obviously correct one.

Comment by false_vacuum on Is anyone else worried about SOPA? Trying to do anything about it? · 2011-12-26T18:21:20.340Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks for answering. (Like the one-word one, this comment provides insight into nothing except my own state of mind, in which you are perfectly entitled to be uninterested.)

Comment by false_vacuum on What is your rationality blind spot? · 2011-12-22T05:26:02.511Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

What cognitive bias list? ---Oh! Probably this one.

Comment by false_vacuum on What is your rationality blind spot? · 2011-12-22T05:22:12.360Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Generalising from one fictional example. (But a funny one.)

Comment by false_vacuum on What is your rationality blind spot? · 2011-12-22T05:16:45.693Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Mmm. Sounds familiar. But what do you mean by '"physics all the way down"'?

Comment by false_vacuum on Is anyone else worried about SOPA? Trying to do anything about it? · 2011-12-22T04:50:42.842Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Huh. I agree with both of you, up to

we do that by tackling the mind killing, not by tackling the issues[.]

At least, if 'tackling the issues' means 'coming to any kind of conclusion|decision as to what to think or even what to do. Obviously a rational approach is a prerequisite for that, but doesn't replace it. I also agree in general with

the fact that this is our pet issue makes us far more vulnerable

but vulnerable to what in this case? Irrationally believing that SOPA would be a bad thing?

Comment by false_vacuum on Is anyone else worried about SOPA? Trying to do anything about it? · 2011-12-22T04:42:36.382Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Why downvoted? Vacuousness? (Sometimes when I really like a comment, I don't feel satisfied by just upvoting it.)

Comment by false_vacuum on Is anyone else worried about SOPA? Trying to do anything about it? · 2011-12-22T04:36:59.697Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

That's interesting. I initially parsed "copyright enforcement law simply is not a highly-charged partisan issue for the overwhelming majority of people in the United States" as meaning that it's almost universally agreed to be bad. That reading was reinforced by "A few individuals may strongly identify as[...] fans of copyright law" (if it had been "fans or opponents" maybe that would have straightened me out). I'm pretty sure that most people who have been directly affected by some kind of copyright enforcement mechanism or copyright enforcement law did not enjoy the experience, and I am sceptical that they are a tiny minority.

Of course, positions on copyright and its enforcement in general are entirely distinct from positions on SOPA, PIPA, ACTA, et al. (as evinced by the many anti-SOPA statements that begin with announcements of approval of copyright enforcement in general).

In any case, I quite agree---especially after seeing the development of this thread---with your main point that LW is part of the community in which strong opinions on the present topic are ubiquitous. (I don't know about opinions on copyright and its enforcement in general.) But to be more precise, we are part of the community in which the opinion that SOPA is bad is ubiquitous---like many other opinions, such as that elaborate theological arguments are a waste of time. That isn't enough to make it controversial, and that's why I thought perhaps we could discuss it rationally. But of course we are afraid, and perhaps that fear is more salient and more immediate than the fear of various existential dangers and similarly scary things we discuss.

Comment by false_vacuum on Is anyone else worried about SOPA? Trying to do anything about it? · 2011-12-22T01:19:47.354Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Interestingly, your link is to a political think-tank site. (Of course, argument screens off authority and all that---it looks like a pretty good article.)

Comment by false_vacuum on Is anyone else worried about SOPA? Trying to do anything about it? · 2011-12-22T01:16:15.622Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Certainly one valid (type of) response to the OP would be to explain why the proposed legislation wouldn't harm the internet. (I've seen a few claims to that effect [elsewhere], but none that seemed well-informed or carefully reasoned.)

Or is 'harming the internet' too subjective|vague a notion to begin with? Perhaps that is worth discussing. Incidentally, it was part of my original thought that maybe somehow the net outcome of the SOPA regime could be positive, e.g. by spurring the development of a new censorship-proof distributed DNS infrastructure. But I didn't know about any specific efforts in that direction, and also I mistrusted the idea as probably manifesting a 'storytelling-fallacy' approach to prediction. (I'm sure that's been called something else on LW, but I don't recall what.)

I agree that clear signs of political-mode thinking are on display here. In particular, I don't trust the comments that appear to be motivated either by optimism (hope?) or by pessimism (despair?). I was and am looking for the kind of precise, epistemologically sound thinking about object-level phenomena that are so often exhibited by LW participants. I also thought that---assuming the new regime will create the sorts of practical problems all of us seem to suppose it will---people here might be especially aware of specific possibilities for solving them.

Comment by false_vacuum on Is anyone else worried about SOPA? Trying to do anything about it? · 2011-12-22T00:40:52.083Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Well, it wasn't me doing the referring, but anyway I'm a bit relieved you agree.

Comment by false_vacuum on Is anyone else worried about SOPA? Trying to do anything about it? · 2011-12-22T00:02:38.825Z · score: -3 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Exactly.

Comment by false_vacuum on Is anyone else worried about SOPA? Trying to do anything about it? · 2011-12-21T23:56:39.620Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Freenet servers can (and, AFAIK, routinely are) be blocked by IP.

This appears to be wrong. I haven't used Freenet myself (yet), but it doesn't seem to have servers at all, or admit IP blocking. In this it appears to be analogous to the hidden services (.onion sites) in Tor. And protocol analysis tools (packet sniffers) would appear to be irrelevant---I think---since Freenet traffic is encrypted. But this is not an area I know much about.

Comment by false_vacuum on Is anyone else worried about SOPA? Trying to do anything about it? · 2011-12-21T23:38:51.829Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

As executions? As far as I know, the U.S. has only ever had capital punishment for murder and treason. Defining 'use of technology that could be used to circumvent copyright protection' as 'treason' does not appear to be on the horizon yet. I think.

Comment by false_vacuum on Is anyone else worried about SOPA? Trying to do anything about it? · 2011-12-21T00:01:10.343Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

That's sad. Here he was quoted as saying

"We can reincorporate as a Cayman Islands company and offer the same great service and reliability and not be a U.S. company anymore."

DynDNS has an article on their site, written by their CEO, Jeremy Hitchcock, called SOPA: What You Should Know & Why Dyn Opposes It. It's not at all ambivalent but doesn't make any promises.

Comment by false_vacuum on SingInst bloomberg coverage [link] · 2011-12-20T13:01:46.410Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

“There are a number of people who have knowledge in this field that estimate humanity’s chance at making it through this century at about 50 percent,” Schwall says. “Even if that number is way off and it’s one in a billion, that’s too high for me.”

Presumably he meant something different.

Comment by false_vacuum on What are you working on? · 2011-10-07T19:03:49.508Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, this is an important subject. I'll probably read your paper.

I've found a fairly simple and apparently workable solution

To what, exactly?

Comment by false_vacuum on Edward Nelson claims proof of inconsistency in Peano Arithmetic · 2011-10-07T18:38:03.752Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Here's a summary and discussion of the affair, with historical comparison to the Gödel results and their reception (as well as comments from several luminaries, and David Chalmers) on a philosophy of mathematics blog whose authors seem to take the position that the reasons for consensus in the mathematical community are mysterious. (It is admitted that "arguably, it cannot be fully explained as a merely socially imposed kind of consensus, due to homogeneous ‘indoctrination’ by means of mathematical education.") This is a subject that needs to be discussed more on LW, in my opinion.

Comment by false_vacuum on Not By Empathy Alone · 2011-10-05T19:45:38.652Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, exactly.

Comment by false_vacuum on Not By Empathy Alone · 2011-10-05T19:43:34.435Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

So he's outraged by people basing their moral decisions on empathy? I'm... not sure how to empathise with that emotion.

Comment by false_vacuum on Not By Empathy Alone · 2011-10-05T19:37:08.358Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Interesting. But one could have the awareness, understanding, and ability to describe, but also an attitude of not caring, with regard to one's own emotions. Or at least some of them, sometimes.

On the other hand, I'm not sure the word 'emotions' means the same thing to everyone. I'm not even sure that what I take it to mean hasn't changed substantially.

ETA: Here I seem to be defining 'empathy' in yet another way. It's odd how my intuition about what a word means can vary situationally. It seems to me right now that I would want to claim I usually think 'empathising with X' is '(accurately) modelling the internal state of X'. But perhaps in contexts where the distinction is irrelevant I may also have been identifying the conjunct of '(accurately) modelling the internal state of X' and 'caring about the result' as 'empathising with X'. And then here I took 'empathy' to be just the 'caring about the result' part.

Comment by false_vacuum on Not By Empathy Alone · 2011-10-05T19:28:49.278Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

There seems to be a general tendency here to conflate 'empathy' with 'the particular (biased, inconsistent) ways humans tend to (attempt to) practise empathy'. The latter is obviously far less capable of constituting a basis for morality than the former, on just about any reasonable construal of 'morality' (another term the ambiguous employment of which obviates the usefulness of many an argument on such topics...).

Comment by false_vacuum on Not By Empathy Alone · 2011-10-05T19:06:07.283Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks for the link; I didn't know about Project A119. Probably a good thing they didn't do it, though.

Comment by false_vacuum on Not By Empathy Alone · 2011-10-05T18:57:09.494Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It seems to me that billswift is accurately identifying three different meanings the word 'empathy' is taken to have. I'd never heard of metalaw before, though.

Comment by false_vacuum on Rationalist sites worth archiving? · 2011-09-16T00:46:00.380Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

But... the only way to view the 'data' is by copying it to my computer! That's how the Internet works!

Comment by false_vacuum on Science: Do It Yourself · 2011-02-18T17:26:57.931Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

is rationality an effective means of achieving goals?

Yes, by definition. (Maybe you want an 'epistemic' in there.)

Comment by false_vacuum on Can You Prove Two Particles Are Identical? · 2011-02-18T13:45:17.418Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Tim Maudlin's The Metaphysics Within Physics

Thank you for this. I had completely missed it somehow. It will be interesting to see how much of my own work-in-progress is redundant with Maudlin's.

a (rare) physics-savvy philosopher

Well, of course there are quite a few of them (us?), although they have a low frequency in the population.

Comment by false_vacuum on Can You Prove Two Particles Are Identical? · 2011-02-18T13:44:46.352Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

This is a mistake. There is actually a two-electron state in the OP. (And there is no assumption 'that they are independently and individually real.' The claim is merely that the two-electron state is real.)

Comment by false_vacuum on Can You Prove Two Particles Are Identical? · 2011-02-18T13:42:49.286Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I encourage you to throw away that particular template

But why? Dialogues have been a mainstay of philosophical exposition for as long as there has been philosophy. They make an argument concluding 'P is not the case, rather Q is' easier to follow. They don't need to be imputing P to anyone in particular in order to function. The point is to show the relationships among ideas. (Although of course if P doesn't seem compelling, or even coherent, to anyone, then the exercise is pointless.)

Comment by false_vacuum on Other people's procedural knowledge gaps · 2011-02-11T16:16:38.124Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

My suggestion would be "lower my opinion of X."

Yeah, but then I wouldn't be invoking the concept of 'status'. I was responding to the idea that spelling mistakes don't lower someone's status, so that's why I ended up using the term. But of course X's ('actual') status supervenes on the set of individual judgments that constitute various others' 'opinion of X'. So it's only in that 'weak' sense that I meant my remark that X 'doesn't actually have a status'; viz. that (in my way of using the term) X has a status in the eyes of each of the various individuals judging X rather than a status simpliciter. X's status, simpliciter, could then perhaps be defined as the weighted average of X's status-in-the-eyes-of-all-the-others --weighted, perhaps, by their statuses. Or something, I dunno. Even that's probably too simple. But of course I realise that one usually refers to status as though X simply has a status.

On the other hand, when you ask if I would say it's wrong to talk about 'my estimate of X's popularity' (which I wouldn't), I realise that similarly I wouldn't have a problem with talk of estimates of X's status, if that were in fact what I wanted to refer to. So I misrepresented my own reasoning; I didn't choose not to say 'lower my estimate of the status of X' because I don't think X has an actual status, but because my estimate of the 'actual' status of X wasn't what I was talking about. I did mean, as you suggest, 'lower my opinion of X'.

Popularity, while being as vague a notion as status, does strike me as being a less complicated one; maybe that's why I've developed these intuitions. But the usage of 'popularity' that seems most normal to me is as a function of the opinions of some whole population; although people do occasionally use the term in an individual-indexed way. That usage isn't so popular with me, though. (And I'm not sure what to think about 'privilege'.)

Comment by false_vacuum on Philosophers and seeking answers · 2011-02-11T13:11:58.361Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It occurred to me recently, while I was reading some article in the SEP, that academic philosophers (of the analytic variety) may be conceiving their project as one of charting the logical space of 'tenable' philosophical positions, rather than trying to eliminate as much of that space as possible. Of course the SEP may tend especially to give that impression, since it is meant to consist of review articles that summarise all the positions and arguments on a given topic which are taken seriously. But philosophers do often say that they are concerned with 'conceptual analysis', and to some extent this is taken to mean that philosophy is supposed to be the practice of analysing the subject matter (and methodology) of other fields, as opposed to having any subject matter of its own. Hence 'philosophy of physics', 'philosophy of ethics', 'philosophy of biology', ... In other words, philosophy is taken to be a mode of investigation rather than a subject.

Comment by false_vacuum on Other people's procedural knowledge gaps · 2011-02-11T11:14:37.452Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Unfortunately for you in most places that will backfire against all but targets that already have low status.

I guess it's a good thing you said this, because it shows me that I'm using the word 'status' differently from you. I'm not that much of an asshole! What I mean by 'take status away from X' is 'consider X to have lower status'. In other words, I understood 'status' to be a sort of tag I associate with particular persons in my own mind. One might, then, talk about 'status' as if it were actually an invariant (i.e. observer-independent) property of a person, the way 'karma' is an invariant property of a particular identity within an online community; but this would be understood as a sort of shorthand, an imprecise way of speaking. It would have seemed wrong to me to say instead, for example, 'lower my estimate of the status of X', because I do not think that X actually has a status. What should I have said?

Comment by false_vacuum on Other people's procedural knowledge gaps · 2011-02-11T09:26:51.464Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think anyone would perceive this as wrong, though. I might also note that there are many english words which are exact homophones in some dialects but not others (although all the ones I can think of at the moment are spelled differently). And I'd have to say I feel as though my mind has the two homonyms 'rose' and 'rose' stored separately even though they happen to have the same spelling and pronunciation.

Spelling errors impede understanding very rarely,

They always impede my understanding; not because I have trouble figuring out what was meant, but because they distract me. It's not clear to me that this is something I should want to change about myself, but even if it were, I doubt that I could change it without what I would consider unacceptable collateral damage, or possibly even at all.

and they don't lower your status as long as they plausibly look accidental.

Well, the world is full of assholes like me who do have a tendency to take status away from those who make spelling and grammar mistakes, especially if they don't have some obvious excuse like being a non-native speaker. Most of us are probably more self-righteous about it than I am.

Comment by false_vacuum on Other people's procedural knowledge gaps · 2011-02-10T04:57:36.102Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Although I note that the OP does not mention the 'procedural' restriction.

Comment by false_vacuum on Other people's procedural knowledge gaps · 2011-02-10T04:56:01.619Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, this seems plausible, and it gives a fascinating insight, for me, into how other people process language. I've been noticing lately how frequent wrong homophones are in writing; in fact I just encountered one--are for our--in a textbook I'm currently working through (Lawvere & Schanuel's Conceptual Mathematics). This is a type of mistake I can't imagine myself making. But if, for many people, the textual encoding is not maintained, in parallel with the audial, when spoken competence increases past some threshold, the phenomenon is explained.

What can be done to help correct this bug?

Comment by false_vacuum on Other people's procedural knowledge gaps · 2011-02-09T12:48:47.730Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I categorically have quite a lot of respect for those whose English grammar ability breaks down at the weakest point in the grammar.

That interpretation would probably never have occurred to me. You must be using 'respect' to mean something like 'tolerance'. If so, I will try to tolerate your tolerance.

Comment by false_vacuum on Other people's procedural knowledge gaps · 2011-02-09T11:05:07.634Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Just to be clear, are you saying you now have less respect for me, categorically, than for people who use it's incorrectly? That would be most unfortunate; I certainly hope I am misunderstanding somehow. I do not believe, incidentally, that I was expressing contempt for anyone; I apologise for my incomprehension, but it is genuine.

And as I mentioned above, its belongs to the same family as the other pronominal adjectives her, my, our, ... None of them have apostrophes (and one besides its has an s).

ETA: And whose. That's another one people seem to get wrong a lot.

Comment by false_vacuum on Other people's procedural knowledge gaps · 2011-02-09T10:57:11.096Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

using an apostrophe to indicate possession is the common case.

For nouns, but not pronouns. Compare his, her, my, their, ...

As for comics, perhas I should not admit to liking this one.

The objection that it's not a procedural knowledge gap is probably valid. But I was not just ranting; I asked a number of questions in the answers to which I am genuinely interested. And whether I feel superior to people who use apostrophes incorrectly does not strike me as relevant--although I try not to, and understanding why they do it might help.

Comment by false_vacuum on Other people's procedural knowledge gaps · 2011-02-09T10:39:41.943Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Again, fascinating. And I do very little real-life socialising. But on the whole I think I do a good deal more talking than typing. ETA: On second thought, I'm not sure why I thought that. Something made me overestimate how much talking I do. Probably the fact that I used to do a lot more, and certainly have done immensely more talking than writing over the course of my life so far.

Comment by false_vacuum on Other people's procedural knowledge gaps · 2011-02-09T10:37:44.295Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

as your spoken English gets better with practice, you're likely to start making more of such errors, not less.

This is fascinating. It's not at all clear to me why such a thing would happen. I can't think of anything in my own experience that seems analogous.

Comment by false_vacuum on Procedural Knowledge Gaps · 2011-02-09T02:51:30.502Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

to read PDFs with

and DJVUs. So there isn't anything like this yet. Thanks for saving me some research time.

Comment by false_vacuum on Procedural Knowledge Gaps · 2011-02-09T02:42:12.515Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Me too. (This is turning into a confessional thread.)

Comment by false_vacuum on Blocking users · 2011-02-09T02:27:52.984Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Didn't mean to imply that Wikipedia's blocking policies constitute a problem. Just that all we need here is the standard 'accounts that post spam will be blocked'. Which seems utterly uncontroversial, and doesn't even need to be made explicit.

Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

Comment by false_vacuum on The UFAI among us · 2011-02-09T02:22:22.983Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Corporations (and governments) are not usually regarded as sharing human values by those who consider the question. This brief blog post is a good example. I would certainly argue that the 'U' is appropriate; but then I tend to regard 'UFAI' as meaning 'the complement of FAI in mind space'.

Comment by false_vacuum on Other people's procedural knowledge gaps · 2011-02-09T02:06:11.742Z · score: 1 (11 votes) · LW · GW

English speakers ought to know that its is the possessive adjective and it's is the contraction for 'it is'. It drives me crazy when people use it's to mean its, and I do not understand why they do it. Do people not learn how to write by reading? (I certainly did, and I don't see how else you could do it, but I realise I'm somewhat abnormal.) Or is the incorrect use of it's so ubiquitous now that even if people learn to write by reading, unless they read mostly stuff more than ten years old they aren't being exposed to a data set from which they can infer the correct rule? Or is it more a question of being published on paper than of age? And incidentally, does anyone know if schools have stopped teaching this and similar rules? (And if so, why?)

ETA: At least two people downvoted this, so perhaps I should make the following two points more explicit.

  1. My comment was not intended to be censorious in tone (and rereading it I still don't think it is). The bulk of what I wrote takes the form of wondering about the cause of this, to me particularly irritating, phenomenon. (Thanks to Vladimir M, I am a little less confused now.)

  2. The reason why I find the phenomenon so irritating is primarily that I value my ability to effortlessly produce correct grammar, spelling, etc., and seeing the same mistake consistently a large enough fraction of the time bollixes up my machinery, tending to decrease the effortlessness with which I can perform correctly. Also, I fear that others are subject to the same effect, and that there could be a threshold of criticality, and even that that threshold may already have been reached. So it's a (fairly minor) group rationality issue.

Comment by false_vacuum on Blocking users · 2011-02-09T02:00:08.049Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Do we even need to explicitly adopt such a standard at this point?

Wikipedia has its problems. I wouldn't be too eager to ape it in any detail.

Comment by false_vacuum on $295 bounty for new Singularity Institute logo design (crowd-sourced competition) · 2011-02-08T23:32:23.839Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

What do people think of the designs? My favorites are the SI-as-galaxy icons by Marah (especially #125) and the gravitational-singularity-as-wings ones by strelac (especially #124) --and my lettering and SI-sigil, of course. I'm not sure the semiotics of using a gravitational singularity in the logo are entirely advisable, though. I also like #109, but only because it's kind of pretty.

Comment by false_vacuum on Procedural Knowledge Gaps · 2011-02-08T06:00:20.638Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

This is fascinating! I've been told I memorised the alphabet before I was a year old... But it wasn't until I was in college that I finally memorised which hand is called 'left' and which one is 'right'. (Never had an analogous problem with compass directions.)

A possibly related deficit is that I typically think of the wrong word first when I want to name a colour; i.e. for example I want to refer to purple and I have to choke off the impulse to say 'yellow'. And yet I have letter/colour synaesthesia!

Brains are weird.

Comment by false_vacuum on Procedural Knowledge Gaps · 2011-02-08T05:42:13.868Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

pinkish in the middle should be fine.

For beef, not chicken.

Comment by false_vacuum on Procedural Knowledge Gaps · 2011-02-08T05:40:47.365Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

However, I find it much easier to slice meat for stir-frying which is still partially frozen. (This also speeds the thawing process.) Probably if you use a cleaver or other heavy, extremely sharp type of instrument, no prior thawing would be necessary; but I don't trust myself with those.