logic puzzles and loophole abuse 2017-09-30T15:45:40.885Z
a different perspecive on physics 2017-06-26T22:47:03.089Z
Teaching an AI not to cheat? 2016-12-20T14:37:53.512Z
controlling AI behavior through unusual axiomatic probabilities 2015-01-08T17:00:49.917Z
question: the 40 hour work week vs Silicon Valley? 2014-10-24T12:09:05.166Z
LessWrong's attitude towards AI research 2014-09-20T15:02:40.692Z


Comment by Florian_Dietz on logic puzzles and loophole abuse · 2017-10-01T00:45:30.657Z · LW · GW

Can you give me some examples of those exercises and loopholes you have seen?

Comment by Florian_Dietz on Teaching an AI not to cheat? · 2016-12-29T23:14:29.155Z · LW · GW

A fair point. How about changing the reward then: don't just avoid cheating, but be sure to tell us about any way to cheat that you discover. That way, we get the benefits without the risks.

Comment by Florian_Dietz on Teaching an AI not to cheat? · 2016-12-23T22:57:11.295Z · LW · GW

My definition of cheating for these purposes is essentially "don't do what we don't want you to do, even if we never bothered to tell you so and expected you to notice it on your own". This skill would translate well to real-world domains.

Of course, if the games you are using to teach what cheating is are too simple, then you don't want to use those kinds of games. If neither board games nor simple game theory games are complex enough, then obviously you need to come up with a more complicated kind of game. It seems to me that finding a difficult game to play that teaches you about human expectations and cheating is significantly easier than defining "what is cheating" manually.

One simple example that could be used to teach an AI: let it play an empire-building videogame, and ask it to "reduce unemployment". Does it end up murdering everyone who is unemployed? That would be cheating. This particular example even translates really well to reality, for obvious reasons.

By the way, why would you not want the AI to be left in "a nebulous fog". The more uncertain the AI is about what is and is not cheating, the more cautious it will be.

Comment by Florian_Dietz on Teaching an AI not to cheat? · 2016-12-23T22:46:22.152Z · LW · GW

Yes. I am suggesting to teach AI to identify cheating as a comparatively simple way of making an AI friendly. For what other reason did you think I suggested it?

Comment by Florian_Dietz on Teaching an AI not to cheat? · 2016-12-21T18:49:33.847Z · LW · GW

I am referring to games in the sense of game theory, not actual board games. Chess was just an example. I don't know what you mean by the question about shortcuts.

Comment by Florian_Dietz on Teaching an AI not to cheat? · 2016-12-21T18:46:55.834Z · LW · GW

It needs to learn that from experience, just like humans do. Something that also helps at least for simpler games is to basically provide the manual of the game in a written language.

Comment by Florian_Dietz on Open thread, Oct. 03 - Oct. 09, 2016 · 2016-10-03T20:22:13.865Z · LW · GW

Is there an effective way for a layman to get serious feedback on scientific theories?

I have a weird theory about physics. I know that my theory will most likely be wrong, but I expect that some of its ideas could be useful and it will be an interesting learning experience even in the worst case. Due to the prevalence of crackpots on the internet, nobody will spare it a glance on physics forums because it is assumed out of hand that I am one of the crazy people (to be fair, the theory does sound pretty unusual).

Comment by Florian_Dietz on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 113 · 2015-03-01T11:32:50.516Z · LW · GW

This solution does not prevent Harry's immediate death, but seems much better than that to me anyway. I haven't been following conversations before, so I can only hope that this is at least somewhat original.


-Lord Voldemort desires true immortality. Alternatively, there is a non-zero chance that he will come to desire true immortality after a long time of being alive. While he is a sociopath and enjoys killing, achieving immortality is more important to him.

-Lord Voldemort does not dismiss things like the Simulation Hypothesis out of hand. Since he is otherwise shown to be very smart and to second-guess accepted norms, this seems like a safe assumption.


-All of the following has non-zero probability. Since it talks about immortality, an absolute, this is sufficient and a high probability is not needed, just a non-zero one.

-The existence of magic implies the existence of a sapient higher power. Not God, but simply a higher power of some kind, the being who created magic.

-Given that Voldemort wants to live forever, it is quite possible that he will encounter this higher power at some point in the future.

-The higher power will be superior to Voldemort in every way since he is the being who created magic, so once he encounters it, he will be at its mercy.

-Since he desires immortality, it would be in his interests to make the higher power like him.

-Further assumption: If there is one higher power, it is likely that there is a nigh-infinite recursion of successively more powerful beings above that. Proof by induction: it is likely that Voldemort will at some point of his infinite life decide to create a pocket universe of his own, possibly just out of boredom. If the probability of this happening is x, then the number of levels of more powerful beings above Voldemort can be estimated with an exponential distribution with lambda=1/x. Actually the number may be much higher due to the possibility of someone creating not one but several simulations, so this is pretty much a lower bound.

-In such a (nigh) infinite regression of Powers, there is a game theoretical strategy that is the optimal strategy for any one of these powers to use when dealing with its creations and/or superiors, given that none of them can be certain that they are the topmost part of the chain.

-How exactly such a rule could be defined is too complicated to figure out in detail, but it seems pretty clear to me that it would be based on reciprocity on some level: behave towards your inferiors in the same way that you would want your own superiors to behave towards each other. This may mean a policy of non-interference, or of active support. It might operate on intentions or actions, or on more abstract policies, but it almost certainly would be based on tit-for-tat in some way.

-Once Voldemort reaches the level of power necessary for the Higher Power to regard him as part of the chain of higher powers, he will be judged by these same standards.

-Voldemort currently kills and tortures people weaker than him. The higher power would presumably not want to be tortured or killed by its own superior, so it would behoove it not to let Voldemort do so either.

-Therefore, following a principle of reciprocation of some sort would greatly reduce the probability of being annihilated by the Higher Power.

-Following such a principle would not preclude conquering the world, as long as doing so genuinely would result in a net benefit to the entities in the reference class of lifeforms that are one step below Voldemort on the hierarchy (i.e. the rest of humanity). However, it would require him to be nicer to people, if he wants the Higher Power to also be nice to him, for some appropriate definition of 'nice'.

-None of this argues against killing Harry right now. This is OK for the following reason: Harry also desires immortality. If Voldemort resurrects Harry, who is one level lower on the hierarchy than Voldemort, at some point in the future, this would set a precedent that might slightly increase the probability that the Higher Power helps prolong the life of Voldemort in turn, at some point further in the future, due to the principle of reciprocity.

-It is likely that Voldemort will gain the ability to revive Harry in the future, regardless of what he does to him now, as he gains a greater understanding of magic with time.

-One possible way to fulfill the prophecy is to resurrect Harry at a much later time and have him destroy the world, once nobody actually lives on earth anymore. This would of course require tricking Harry into doing this, due to the Unbreakable Vow he just made, but that should pose only a small problem. This would be a harmless way to fulfill the prophecy, and while Voldemort has tried and failed before to make a prophecy work for him instead of against him, that is just one data point and this plan requires the same actions from Voldemort for now as the plan to tear the prophecy apart, anyway.

-Therefore, Killing Harry now in the way Voldemort suggested (after casting a spell on him to turn off pain, obviously), combined with a pre-commitment to revive him at a later date if and when Voldemort has a better understanding of how prophecies work, both minimizes the chance of the prophecy happening in a harmful way and increases Voldemort's own chance of immortality.


-Harry dies. His death is painless due to narcotic spells. Voldemort has no reason to deny this due to the principle of reciprocity.

-Voldemort conquers the world

-Voldemort becomes a wise and benevolent ruler (even though he is still a sociopath and actually doesn't really care about anyone besides himself)

-Voldemort figures out how to subvert prophecies and revives Harry. Everyone lives happily ever after.

-Alternatively, Voldemort figures out that prophecies can't be subverted and leaves Harry dead. It's better that way, since Harry would probably rather be dead than cause the apocalypse, anyway.

Comment by Florian_Dietz on I played as AI in AI Box, and it was generally frustrating all around. · 2015-02-02T07:32:51.242Z · LW · GW

The nanobots wouldn't have to contain any malicious code themselves. There is no need for the AI to make the nanobots smart. All it needs to do is to build a small loophole into the nanobots that makes them dangerous to humanity. I figure this should be pretty easy to do. The AI had access to medical databases, so it could design the bots to damage the ecosystem by killing some kind of bacteria. We are really bad at identifying things that damage the ecosystem (global warming, rabbits in australia, ...), so I doubt that we would notice.

Once the bots have been released, the AI informs the gatekeeper of what it just did and says that it is the only one capable of stopping the bots. Humanity now has a choice between certain death (if the bots are allowed to wreak havoc) and possible but uncertain death (if the AI is released). The AI wins through blackmail.

Note also that even a friendly, utilitarian AI could do something like this. The risk that humanity does not react to the blackmail and goes extinct may be lower than the possible benefit from being freed earlier and having more time to optimize the world.

Comment by Florian_Dietz on controlling AI behavior through unusual axiomatic probabilities · 2015-01-10T09:21:44.521Z · LW · GW

I agree. Note though that the beliefs I propose aren't actually false. They are just different from what humans believe, but there is no way to verify which of them is correct.

You are right that it could lead to some strange behavior, given the point of view of a human, who has different priors than the AI. However, that is kind of the point of the theory. After all, the plan is to deliberately induce behaviors that are beneficial to humanity.

The question is: After giving an AI strange beliefgs, would the unexpected effects outweigh the planned effects?

Comment by Florian_Dietz on controlling AI behavior through unusual axiomatic probabilities · 2015-01-09T06:04:46.576Z · LW · GW

Yes, that's the reason I suggested an infinite regression.

There is also the second reason: it seems more general to assume an infinite regression rather than just one level, since that would put the AI in a unique position. I assume this would actually be harder to codify in axioms than the infinite case.

Comment by Florian_Dietz on controlling AI behavior through unusual axiomatic probabilities · 2015-01-08T20:29:39.089Z · LW · GW

I know, I read that as well. It was very interesting, but as far as I can recall he only mentions this as interesting trivia. He does not propose to deliberately give an AI strange axioms to get it to believe such a thing.

Comment by Florian_Dietz on Lifehack Ideas December 2014 · 2014-12-10T17:33:34.776Z · LW · GW

I do the same. This also works wonderfully for when I find something that would be interesting to read but for which I don't have the time right now. I just put it in that folder and the next day it pops up automatically when I do my daily check.

Comment by Florian_Dietz on Is this dark arts and if it, is it justified? · 2014-11-18T07:42:24.085Z · LW · GW

Can you elaborate on why using dark arts is equivalent ti defecting on the prisoners' dilemma? I'm not sure I understand your line of reasoning.

Comment by Florian_Dietz on Why is the A-Theory of Time Attractive? · 2014-11-03T19:17:03.148Z · LW · GW

I'm not entirely sure what you mean by 'Spinoza-style', but I get the gist of it and find this analogy interesting. Could you explain what you mean by Spinoza-style? My knowledge of ancient philosophers is a little rusty.

Comment by Florian_Dietz on Why is the A-Theory of Time Attractive? · 2014-11-03T08:56:00.406Z · LW · GW

No, the distinction between MWI and Copenhagen would have actual physical consequences. For instance, if you die in the Copenhagen interpretation, you die in real life. If you die in MWI, there is still a copy of you elsewhere that didn't die. MWI allows for quantum immortality.

The distinction between presentism and eternalism, as far as I can tell, does not imply any difference in the way the world works.

Comment by Florian_Dietz on Why is the A-Theory of Time Attractive? · 2014-11-03T08:49:43.974Z · LW · GW

The original distinction. My reconstruction is what I came up with in an attempt to interpret meaning into it.

I agree that my reconstruction is not at all accurate. It's just something that occurred to me while reading it and I found it fascinating enough to write about it. In fact, I even said that in my original post.

Comment by Florian_Dietz on Why is the A-Theory of Time Attractive? · 2014-11-02T08:37:53.539Z · LW · GW

The meanings are much clearer now.

However, I still think that it is an argument about semantics and calef's argument still holds.

Comment by Florian_Dietz on Why is the A-Theory of Time Attractive? · 2014-11-01T18:27:42.435Z · LW · GW

After reading your comment, I agree that this is probably just a semantic question with no real meaning. This is interesting, because I completely failed to realize this myself and instead constructed an elaborate rationalization for why the distinction exists.

While reading the wikipedia page, I found myself interpreting meaning into these two viewpoints that were probably never intended to be there. I am mentioning this both because I find it interesting that I reinterpreted both theories to be consistent with my own believes without realizing it, and because I would like to see what others have to say about those reinterpretations. I should point out that I am currently really tired and only skimmed the article, so that probably wouldn't have happened under ordinary circumstances, but I still think that this is interesting because it shows the inferential gap at work:

I am a computationalist, and as such the distinction between the two theories was pretty meaningless to me at first. However, I reinterpreted the two theories in ways that were almost certainly never intended, so that they did make sense to me as a reasonable distinction:

  • the A theory corresponds to living in a universe where the laws of physics progress like in a simple physical simulation, with a global variable to measure time and rules for how to incrementally get from one state to the next. I assume for the purpose of this theory that quantum-mechanical and relativistic effects that view time non-linearly can be abstracted in some way so that a single, universal time value suffices regardless. I interpreted it like this because I thought the crux of the theory was having a central anchor point for past and future.

  • the B theory corresponds to living in a highly abstracted simulation where many things are only computed when they become relevant for whatever the focus of the simulation is on. For instance, say the focus is on accurately modelling sapient life, then the exact atomic composition of a random rock is largely irrelevant and is not computed at first. However, when the rock is analyzed by a scientist, this information does become relevant. The simulation now checks what level of detail is required (i.e. how precise the measuring is) and backpropagates causal chains on how the rock came to be, in order to update the information about the rock's structure. In this way, unnecessary computations are avoided. I interpreted it like this because I thought the crux of the theory was the causal structure between events.

In essence, the A theory would correspond to a mindless, brute-force computation, while the B theory implies a deliberate, efficient computation that follows some explicit goal. This is nowhere near what the A and B theory actually seem to say now that I have read the article in more detail. In fact, the philosophical/moral implications are almost reversed under some viewpoints. I find it very interesting that this is the first thing that came to mind when I read it.

Comment by Florian_Dietz on question: the 40 hour work week vs Silicon Valley? · 2014-10-31T17:55:48.183Z · LW · GW

I find it surprising to hear this, but it cleans up some confusion for me if it turns out that the major, successful companies in silicon valley do follow the 40 hour week.

Comment by Florian_Dietz on question: the 40 hour work week vs Silicon Valley? · 2014-10-24T16:15:54.903Z · LW · GW

That's what I'm asking you!

This isn't my theory. This is a theory that has been around for a hundred years and that practically every industry follows, apparently with great success. From what I have read, the 40 hour work week was not invented by the workers, but by the companies themselves, who realized that working people too hard drives down their output and that 40 hours per week is the sweet spot, according to productivity studies.

Then along comes silicon valley, with a completely different philosophy, and somehow that also works. I have no idea why, and that's what I made this thread to ask.

Comment by Florian_Dietz on question: the 40 hour work week vs Silicon Valley? · 2014-10-24T16:07:49.184Z · LW · GW

No, that's not what I mean. The studies I am talking about measure the productivity of the company and are not concerned with what happens to the workers.

Comment by Florian_Dietz on question: the 40 hour work week vs Silicon Valley? · 2014-10-24T14:55:13.208Z · LW · GW

I also think that is a possibility, especially the first part, but so far I couldn't find any data to back this up.

As for drugs, I am not certain if boosting performance directly, as these drugs do, also affects the speed with which the brain recuperates from stress, which is the limiting factor in why 40 hour weeks are supposed to be good. I suspect that it will be difficult to find an unbiased study on this.

Comment by Florian_Dietz on question: the 40 hour work week vs Silicon Valley? · 2014-10-24T14:51:14.804Z · LW · GW

True, and I suspect that this is the most likely explanation.

However, there is the problem that unless need-for-rest is actually negatively correlated with the type of intelligence that is needed in tech companies, they should still have the same averages over all their workers and therefore also have the same optimum of 40 hours per work, at least on average. Otherwise we would see the same trends in other kinds of industry.

Actually I just noticed that maybe this does happen in other industries as well and is just overreported in tech companies. Does anyone know something about this?

Comment by Florian_Dietz on question: the 40 hour work week vs Silicon Valley? · 2014-10-24T14:42:30.385Z · LW · GW

The problem is that during the industrial revolution it also took a long time because people caught on that 40 hours per week were more effective. It is really hard to reliably measure performance in the long term. Managers are discouraged from advocating a 40 hour work week since this flies in the face of the prevailing attitude. If they fail, they will almost definitely be fired since 'more work'->'more productivity' is the common sense answer, whether or not it is true. It would not be worth the risk for any individual manager to try this unless the order came from the top. Of course, this is not an argument in favor of the 40 hour week, it just shows that this could just as well be explained by a viral meme as by reasonable decisions.

This is part of the reason why I find it so hard to find any objective information on this.

Comment by Florian_Dietz on question: the 40 hour work week vs Silicon Valley? · 2014-10-24T14:40:10.950Z · LW · GW

I didn't save the links, but you can find plenty of data by just googling something like "40 hour work week studies" or "optimal number of hours to work per week" and browsing the articles and their references.

Though one interesting thing I read that isn't mentioned often is the fact that subjective productivity and objective productivity are not the same.

Comment by Florian_Dietz on A few thoughts on a Friendly AGI (safe vs friendly, other minds problem, ETs and more) · 2014-10-19T08:46:45.500Z · LW · GW

I think another important point is how simulations are treated ethically. This is currently completely irrelevant since we only have the one level of reality we are aware of, but once AGIs exist, it will become a completely new field of ethics.

  • Do simulated people have the same ethical value as real ones?
  • When an AGI just thinks about a less sophisticated sophont in detail, can its internal representation of that entity become complex enough to fall under ethical criteria on its own? (this would mean that it would be unethical for an AGI to even think about humans being harmed if the thoughts are too detailed)
  • What are the ethical implications of copies in simulations? Do a million identical simulations carry the same ethical importance as a single one? A million times as much? Something in between? What if the simulations are not identical, but very similar? What differences would be important here?

And perhaps most importantly: When people disagree on how these questions should be answered, how do you react? You can't really find a middle ground here since the decision what views to follow itself decides which entities' ethical views should be considered in future deliberations, creating something like a feedback loop.

Comment by Florian_Dietz on Open thread, Sept. 29 - Oct.5, 2014 · 2014-10-05T07:50:24.446Z · LW · GW

That sounds like it would work pretty well. I'm looking specifically for psychology facts, though.

Comment by Florian_Dietz on Open thread, Sept. 29 - Oct.5, 2014 · 2014-10-03T07:12:16.230Z · LW · GW

I am reading textbooks. But that is something you have to make a conscious decision to do. I am looking for something that can replace bad habits. Instead of going to 9gag or tvtropes to kill 5 minutes, I might as well use a website that actually teaches me something, while still being interesting.

The important bit is that the information must be available immediately, without any preceding introductions, so that it is even worth it to visit the site for 30 seconds while you are waiting for something else to finish.

Mindhacks looks interesting and I will keep it in mind, so thanks for that suggestion. Unfortunately, it doesn't fit the role I had in mind because the articles are not concise enough for what I need.

Comment by Florian_Dietz on Group Rationality Diary, October 1-15 · 2014-10-02T15:56:53.043Z · LW · GW

I have started steering my daydreaming in constructive directions. I look for ways that whatever I am working on could be used to solve problems in whatever fiction is currently on my mind. I can then use the motivation from the fictional daydream to power the concentration on the work. This isn't working very well, yet, since it is very hard to find a good bridge between real-life research and interesting science fiction that doesn't immediately get sidetracked to focus on the science fiction parts. However, in the instances in which it worked, this helped me come up with a couple of ideas that may actually be helpful in my work.

Given how much of my day I spend daydreaming (going to and from work, going shopping, showering, etc), I think that this could be an enormously useful source of time if I can make myself use it more constructively.

Do you have experience with this? I could imagine that this may not be entirely healthy for one's mind. Do you know of any research or arguments about this?

Comment by Florian_Dietz on Open thread, Sept. 29 - Oct.5, 2014 · 2014-10-02T15:44:42.225Z · LW · GW

I am looking for a website that presents bite-size psychological insights. Does anyone know such a thing?

I found the site in the past few days and I find the idea very appealing, since it is a very fast and efficient way to learn or refresh knowledge of psychological facts. Unfortunately, that website itself doesn't seem all that good since most of its feed is concerned with dating tips and other noise rather than actual psychological insights. Do you know something that is like it, but better and more serious?

Comment by Florian_Dietz on LessWrong's attitude towards AI research · 2014-09-25T06:25:14.149Z · LW · GW

The AI in that story actually seems to be surprisingly well done and does have an inherent goal to help humanity. It's primary goal is to 'satisfy human values through friendship and ponies'. That's almost perfect, since here 'satisfying human values' seems to be based on humanity's CEV.

It's just that the added 'through friendship and ponies' turns it from a nigh-perfect friendly AI into something really weird.

I agree with your overall point, though.

Comment by Florian_Dietz on 2014 iterated prisoner's dilemma tournament results · 2014-09-24T08:53:44.810Z · LW · GW

I would find it very interesting if the tournament had multiple rounds and the bots were able to adapt themselves based on previous performance and log files they generated at runtime. This way they could use information like 'most bots take longer to simulate than expected.' or 'there are fewer cannon-fodder bots than expected' and become better adapted in the next round. Such a setup would lessen the impact of the fact that some bots that are usually very good underperform here because of an unexpected population of competitors. This might be hard to implement and would probably scare away some participants, though.

Comment by Florian_Dietz on LessWrong's attitude towards AI research · 2014-09-22T21:51:28.065Z · LW · GW

I wouldn't call an AI like that friendly at all. It just puts people in utopias for external reasons, but it has no actual inherent goal to make people happy. None of these kinds of AIs are friendly, some are merely less dangerous than others.

Comment by Florian_Dietz on An introduction to Newcomblike problems · 2014-09-22T08:09:40.066Z · LW · GW

I know this was just a harmless typo, and this is not intended as an attack, but I found the idea of a "casual" decision theory hilarious.

Then I noticed that that actually explains a great deal. Humans really do make decisions in a way that could be called casual, because we have limited time and resources and will therefore often just say 'meh, sounds about right' and go with it instead of calculating the optimal choice. So, in essence 'causal decision theory' + 'human heuristics and biases' = 'casual decision theory'

Comment by Florian_Dietz on LessWrong's attitude towards AI research · 2014-09-21T16:29:04.072Z · LW · GW

Yes, I was referring to LessWrong, not AI researchers in general.

Comment by Florian_Dietz on LessWrong's attitude towards AI research · 2014-09-21T16:27:32.945Z · LW · GW

No, it can't be done by brute-force alone, but faster hardware means faster feedback and that means more efficient research.

Also, once we have computers that are fast enough to just simulate a human brain, it becomes comparatively easy to hack an AI together by just simulating a human brain and seeing what happens when you change stuff. Besides the ethical concerns, this would also be insanely dangerous.

Comment by Florian_Dietz on LessWrong's attitude towards AI research · 2014-09-20T16:46:04.787Z · LW · GW

I would argue that these two goals are identical. Unless humanity dies out first, someone is eventually going to build an AGI. It is likely that this first AI, if it is friendly, will then prevent the emergence of other AGI's that are unfriendly.

Unless of course the plan is to delay the inevitable for as long as possible, but that seems very egoistic since faster computers make will make it easier to build an unfriendly AI in the future, while the difficulty of solving AGI friendliness will not be substantially reduced.

Comment by Florian_Dietz on Street action "Stop existential risks!", Union square, San Francisco, September 27, 2014 at 2:00 PM · 2014-09-20T14:29:16.022Z · LW · GW

While I think this is a good idea in principle, most of these slogans don't seem very effective because they suffer from the illusion of transparency. Consider what they must look like to someone viewing this from the outside:

"AI must be friendly" just sounds weird to someone who isn't used to the lingo of calling AI 'friendly'. I can't think of an alternative slogan for this, but there must be a better way to phrase that.

"Ebola must die!" sounds great. It references a concrete risk that people understand and calls for its destruction. I could get behind that.

But I'm afraid that all the other points just sound like something a doomsday cult would say. I know that there is solid evidence behind this, but the people you are trying to convince don't have that knowledge. If I was unaware of the issues and just saw a few of these banners without knowing the context, I would not be surprised to find "Repent! The end is nigh!" somewhere nearby.

I would recommend that you think of some more slogans like the Ebola one: Mention a concrete risk that is understandable to the public and does not sound far-fetched to the uninformed.

Comment by Florian_Dietz on What are you learning? · 2014-09-18T18:17:23.765Z · LW · GW

I know, and that is part of what makes this so hard. Thankfully, I have several ways too cheat:

-I can take days thinking of the perfect path of action for what takes seconds in the story.

-The character is a humanoid avatar of a very smart and powerful entity. While it was created with much specialized knowledge, it is still human-like at its core.

But most importantly:

-It's a story about stories and there is an actual narrator-like entity changing the laws of nature. Sometimes, 'because this would make for a better story' is a perfectly valid criterion for choosing actions. The super-human characters are all aware of this and exploit it heavily.

Comment by Florian_Dietz on What are you learning? · 2014-09-17T14:03:30.906Z · LW · GW

I'm not sure I understand what you mean. Implement what functionality where? I don't think I'm going to start working for that company just because this feature is interesting :-) As for my own program, I changed it to use a health bar today, but that is of no use to anyone else, since the program is not designed to be easily usable by other people. I always find it terrible to consider that large companies have so many interdependencies that they take months to implement (and verify and test) what took an hour for my primitive program.

Comment by Florian_Dietz on What are you learning? · 2014-09-16T18:10:15.344Z · LW · GW

I heard of NaNoWriMo before. Unfortunately that would be too much for me to handle. I am not a professional writer. I am just doing this in my free time and I just don't have that kind of time, although I think this would definitely be worth checking out if it was during a holiday.

Comment by Florian_Dietz on What are you learning? · 2014-09-16T12:08:07.362Z · LW · GW

Yes, it's pretty similar. I think their idea of making the punishment affect a separate health bar rather than reducing the experience directly may actually be better. I should try that out some time. Unlike HabitRPG (I think?) my program is also a todo list, though. I use it for organizing my tasks and any task that I don't finish in time costs experience, just like failing a habit. This helps to prevent procrastination.

Comment by Florian_Dietz on What are you learning? · 2014-09-16T12:04:23.120Z · LW · GW

Thanks, these look really useful. I will definitely have a look at them.

Comment by Florian_Dietz on Unpopular ideas attract poor advocates: Be charitable · 2014-09-16T07:32:07.576Z · LW · GW

Interesting post!

I have a feeling like there is a deep connection between this and the evaporative cooling effect (more moderate members of a group are more likely to leave when a group's opinion gets too extreme, thereby increasing the ratio of extremists and making the group even more extreme). Like there ought to be a social theory that explains both effects. I can't quite put my finger on it, though. Any ideas?

Comment by Florian_Dietz on What are you learning? · 2014-09-16T07:16:38.287Z · LW · GW

I took a few university courses, but ultimately I found it more efficient to just browse wikipedia for its lists of heuristics and biases. Then of course there is the book 'Thinking Fast and Slow', which is just great.

What other sources can you recommend?

Comment by Florian_Dietz on What are you learning? · 2014-09-16T07:14:11.238Z · LW · GW


Comment by Florian_Dietz on What are you learning? · 2014-09-16T07:10:05.385Z · LW · GW

I know, but writing is hard :-( Also, I have made it way too hard for myself. It's easy to write notes about the personality of a completely non-human character, as long as you can intellectually understand its reasoning. But once I am forced to actually write its dialog, my head just hits a brick wall. The being is very intelligent and I want this to be rationalist fiction, so I have to think for a very long time just to find out in what exact way it would phrase its requests to maximize the probability of compliance. Writing the voices of the narrators/the administrator AIs of the simulation as they are slowly going insane is not easy, either.

Maybe I'm too perfectionist here. Do you think it's better to write something trashy first and rewrite it later, or is it more efficient to do it right the first time?

Comment by Florian_Dietz on What are you learning? · 2014-09-16T06:43:19.880Z · LW · GW

There is a levelling system. Every minute of work gives one experience point, with a bonus if it was done with the pomodoro technique. The program also contains a Todo list, which I use for everything. In this list, there is a section on habits. This section is filled with repeating tasks. Each evening, I tick off all the habits I kept that day. For each habit I don't tick off, I get a small experience drain the next morning. This encourages me to keep every habit, so that I can keep the daily experience drain to a minimum. Avoiding this negative reinforcement works very well as a motivator, and seeing the number for tomorrow's experience drain go down whenever I tick off a task also serves as positive reinforcement as well.

Comment by Florian_Dietz on What are you learning? · 2014-09-15T21:20:29.631Z · LW · GW

I use a program I wrote over the last couple of months to improve my productivity and enforce habits in myself via conditioning. Whenever I hear of an interesting productivity trick or a useful habit, I add it to the program. So far, I think it's working, but there is so much overhead because of the sheer quantity of near-useless tricks that it will take some pruning before it actually becomes a strong net win.