Comment by galap on The Ancient God Who Rules High School · 2017-04-10T05:14:16.620Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

There's a difference between 'working hard' and actually inhumane conditions, which, while I did not experience them in high school, seem to pop up by default in a lot of situations. So I wouldn't be really surprised if it happened in some high schools, because there isn't much defending against it there.

So yeah the labor unions having the goal of 'not having to work hard' is a protection against a very serious and insidious problem.

Comment by galap on The Ancient God Who Rules High School · 2017-04-10T05:00:53.687Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Have any stats on that?

(note I'm not trying to be that annoying guy who asks for statistics to try and win an argument if the other party fails to produce them; I really want to see info on people's expected vs actual employment outcomes)

Comment by galap on The Ancient God Who Rules High School · 2017-04-10T04:56:39.066Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I think you're right that the top 1/2 of 1% are much more varied and idiosyncratic than the norm, because they are all going to be gifted in very unique and divergent ways.

However, honestly I think the best way to utilize them (and remove tremendous frustration on both their part and the part of people who would manage them) is treat them like a black box; tell them, "ok, go off and act as you would by default. We'll make sure no one will bother you. Sink or swim on your own, though. Try to find something interesting. Good luck.

Some of them may not produce all that much of use, but it's no big loss since they're only a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the population. And some of them will find and create very unique and interesting things, things that only they could find and create. And that more than offsets the losses from the ones that by chance don't work out.

Comment by galap on Stupid Questions September 2016 · 2016-09-10T02:56:25.577Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Maybe this will help

Comment by galap on If there was one element of statistical literacy that you could magically implant in every head, what would it be? · 2016-02-23T09:52:47.964Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

This may not be strictly statistical, but I would choose the idea that in order to make any meaningful statement with data, you always have to have something to compare it to.

Like someone will always come in some political thread and say , "X will increase/decrease Y by Z%.) And my first thought in response is always, "Is that a lot?"

For a recent example I saw, someone showed a graph of Japanese student suicides as a function of day of the year. There were pretty high spikes (about double the baseline value) on the days corresponding to the first day of each school semester. The poster was attributing this to Japanese school bullying and other problems with Japan's school system.

My first thought was, "wait. Show me that graph for other countries. For the world, if such data has been reliably gathered." If it looks the same, it's not a uniquely Japanese problem. What if it's worse in other countries, even?

Yeah, I'd really like to see people stop using information where it doesn't mean anything in isolation. A lot of people think that controls in science exist to make sure that the effects you see aren't spurious or adventitious. It's not like that's wrong, but it's deeper and even more fundamental than that.

I'm a scientist, so let me give you an example from my research (grossly simiplified and generalized for brevity).

Substance A was designed such that it manifests an as-of-yet unexplored type of structural situation. We then carried out a reaction on substance A to see what some of the effects of this situation are. Something happened.

So, if we were to leave it at that, what would we have learned? Nothing. We need substance B, which does not have that siutation going on but is otherwise as similar to A as we can make it, to see what IT does, to see if it does anything different than A. See, we need to do the experiments on both B and A not to see whether the results of A are 'real'. We need to do it to see what the results even ARE in the first place.

Comment by galap on Stupid Questions, 2nd half of December · 2015-12-24T07:46:03.356Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Why do people believe that AI is dangerous? What direct evidence is there that this is likely to be the case?

Comment by galap on What we could learn from the frequency of near-misses in the field of global risks (Happy Bassett-Bordne day!) · 2015-11-02T02:11:12.199Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I don't really buy it. The world is changing too fast. Things are way different now than they were in the 50s, so I don't think the statistics from then really mean much anymore.

In another 50 years what will the landscape look like? who knows? Maybe the diseases won't really be such a huge problem because our anivirals will become as good as our antibiotics.

The one thing that can be said with pretty high certainty is that for the most part it will be a completely different world in the second half of the 21st century.

Looking at stuff in the second half of the 20th century to predict the 21st isn't going to cut it, the same way that looking at politics and wars in the 1860s wouldn't produce any useful results about the 1960s.

Comment by galap on Clothing is Hard (A Brief Adventure into my Inefficient Brain) · 2015-10-13T09:52:40.689Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not sure this is bad. In my research (and in everyday life), often the best solution is to try to do something, anything, just perturb the system in some way to see what happens, because I find you often need a vector to start optimizing and correcting. Often I find what a desirable outcome is by taking the action of putting things in motion or thinking of them in motion.

Comment by galap on Simulations Map: what is the most probable type of the simulation in which we live? · 2015-10-12T01:37:08.159Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Hmm.... I'd say that simulations and representations aren't the same thing. A representation only presents the appearance of something in some way, whereas a simulation tries to present the appearance of something for the same types of causal reasons the real thing has. So no, I wouldn't say that a video of mars is a simulation of mars.

Comment by galap on Simulations Map: what is the most probable type of the simulation in which we live? · 2015-10-11T09:47:35.306Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think I'm in a simulation, and I only just now reading this became able to verbalize why that is.

I reject as a premise any arguments that rely on some kind of 'probability that I find myself as me'.The reason for this is that I don't think that such probabilities can be considered to exist. You may say that I could have been born a hunter-gatherer thousands of years ago, some guy living in the future, or some guy living in a simulation in the future, but I don't think that these really work as potentialities. The hunter-gatherer's experiences are different than mine, as are those of the future people. I am myself, and am a unique structure that has unique experiences. My 'consciousness' is what it's like to occupy this particular area of spacetime. The hunter-gatherer, future man, and simulation man have their own consciousness, but they are different than mine. In some ways it works to talk about these entities with similar structures as a class (people), but I don't think it works in the way some people think it does. People aren't electrons. Each individual is different, and thus the descriptor is only a classification to generalize about some general pattern that keeps coming up.

Basically, they all either exist or don't, so it's not like I should be surprised to find myself as myself. Everyone finds themself as themself.

And I also tend not to take argumentation as strong evidence for anything, because above all it has a lot of problems of interpretation. Sure it may sound convincing, but how do we know there isn't some flaw in the reasoning that we don't see? For everyday things, it's not such a big issue, but when we start going into things positing the existence of entire universes, I think it's gone far beyond the domain where it can be reliable. The fundamental assumptions we're making that we don't know we're making start to pile up and matter a lot. For example, imagine trying to argue about time before the concept of relativity had been imagined? Zeno's paradoxes before calculus? You're just not playing with the right deck, and a lot of the time you won't even realize it.

This problem is still pretty huge with empirical information, but there it seems a lot more manageable (read: sometimes, it's POSSIBLE to manage it).

Comment by galap on LW's take on nutrition? · 2015-04-03T08:22:43.295Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I know very well a registered dietitian who deeply knows her stuff. She's explained quite a lot to me, and given me considerable knowledge (it helps that my field is chemistry, and while biochem is different than what I do it's not completely alien).

Unfortunately I can't say much about nutrition in one single post. Like so many things, it's a really complex and rich science and to really know something about it would take years of education on the subject. As you may imagine, everything comes with lots of exceptions and qualifiers. My recommendation if you really want to learn this stuff is to talk to a registered dietitian (any quack can call themself a neutritionist, but RD is a protected title), or read recent academic textbooks (NOT popular books) on nutrition.

About the subject matter in the main post, from my knowledge, meat and heavily processed foods tend to be more in the territory of things that are worse to eat a lot of. I can pretty certainly say it's true that many people would do better to eat considerably less of that stuff than they do.

Speaking from my area of expertise now, I'll say that it's pretty silly from a thermodynamics standpoint to eat meat. You can do fine as a vegetarian, and raising plants to eat is significantly more energy efficient than raising plants to feed animals to eat. Animal raising leads to a considerable amount of energy waste, as well as material pollution. I don't have the numbers on hand, but it's enough to be a significant factor. So what do I do? I don't eat meat very often.

Comment by galap on The Strangest Thing An AI Could Tell You · 2015-03-17T04:48:24.342Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Am I the only one who thinks that there's some kernel of truth in this? that many people's perception of 'quality' is very strongly influenced by the perceived social status of the creator?

Comment by galap on Stupid Questions January 2015 · 2015-01-02T08:17:48.469Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Here's what I know about the matter:

At low atomic number, isotopes that are more stable tend to be close to a 1:1 ratio of neutrons to protons. At high atomic number, this ratio approaches 3:2. I do not know why this is the case, and I believe it is not entirely understood by anyone. Also, this is not a very good predictor anyway.

The real problem is that unlike electron energy levels in an atom, which are well known and easily approximable by various systems and techniques, the nuclear energy levels are not very well understood, and I think to an extent they are even difficult to measure. I believe it is known that unlike the electrons' spherical potential well, the nucleons are bound in a well that is a mixture of a spherical and cubic well, and the exact form is unknown, thus we can't predict the levels very well. I don't know why this is the case, and I believe it is not entirely understood by anyone else either.

In short, I think that a good theoretical model that predicts these kind of things has yet to come.

Comment by galap on The Octopus, the Dolphin and Us: a Great Filter tale · 2014-10-19T18:30:37.623Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Sorry for the delayed response; I don't come on here particularly often.

The assumptions I'm making are that evolution is a stochastic process in which elements are in fluxional states and there ere is some measure of 'difficulty' in transitioning from one state to another, an energetic or entropic barrier of sorts, that to go from A to B (for example, from an organism with asexual reproduction to an organism with sexual reproduction) some confluence of factors must occur, and that occurrence has a certain likelihood that's dependent on the conditions of the whole system (ecosystem). I think that this combined with the large numbers of physical elements interacting (organsims) is enough to say that evolution is governed by something pretty similar to statistical thermodynamics.

So, from the Arrhenius equation, k = Ae^{{-E_a}/{RT}}

where k is the rate of reaction, A is the order of reaction (number of components that must come together), E_a is the activation energy, or energy barrier, and RT is the gas constant multiplied by temperature.

The equation is mostly applied to chemistry, but it also has found uses in other sectors, like predicting the geographic progression of the blooming of Sakura trees ( It really applies to any system that has certain kinetic properties.

So ignoring all the chemistry specific factors (like temperature), the relation in its most general form becomes

k = Ae^-BE

This says essentially that the rate is proportional to a negative exponential of the barrier to the transformation, and small changes in the value of the barrier correspond to large changes in the value of the rate. Thus, it's unlikely that two rates are similar. I don't see why two unrelated things would be likely to have a similar barrier, and given this, they're even less likely to have a similar rate.

Comment by galap on The Octopus, the Dolphin and Us: a Great Filter tale · 2014-09-19T04:37:15.159Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'd liken it to a chemical reaction. Many of them are multistep, and as a general statement chemical processes take place over an extremely wide range of orders of magnitude of rate (ranging from less than a billionth of a second to years). So, in an overall reaction, there are usually several steps, and the slowest one is usually orders of magnitude slower than any of the others, and that one's called the rate determining step, for obvious reasons: it's so much slower than the others that speeding up or slow down the others even by a couple of orders of magnitude is negligible to the overall rate of reaction. it's pretty rare that more than one of them happen to be at nearly the same rate, since the range of orders of magnitude is so large.

I think that the evolution of intelligence is a stochastic process that's pretty similar to molecular kinetics in a lot of ways, particularly that all of the above applies to it as well, thus, it's more likely that there's one rate determining step, one Great Filter, for the same reasons.

However (and I made another post about this here too), I do think that the filters are interdependent (there are multiple pathways and it's not a linear process, but progress along a multidimensional surface.) that's not really all that different than molecular kinetics either though.

Comment by galap on The Octopus, the Dolphin and Us: a Great Filter tale · 2014-09-19T04:14:35.423Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I don't agree that metals and heavy elements are necessary for industry and spaceships: you can do quite a lot with light elements, particularly carbon (for example plastics, carbon fiber, etc.). Also, biology makes all of its structure through lighter elements.

That being said, I think you're very much on the money with the general idea: I also thought something similar while reading the artifcle (that the filters are likely multivariate and interdependent), but not in as well thought out a way.

Comment by galap on An Alien God · 2014-07-29T03:53:19.614Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

So basically the bottom line I'm getting from this a kind of variant of Occam's Razor: Evolution is unlikely to produce solutions that include complexity or considerations it doesn't need.

Or more specifically, and with an example, there are probably a lot more ways to get to taste buds that give good results in environments and contexts the organism is likely to encounter than ways to get to taste buds that give good results in both environments and contexts that the organism is likely and unlikely to encounter.

Comment by galap on Lonely Dissent · 2014-03-29T00:05:35.742Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, I've definitely had to learn the hard way to tone it down with respect to having ideas and interests that run completely orthogonal to familiarity with peers/society.

Perhaps what annoys me even more is when I like something that coincidentally has associated with it one of those Outside The Box groups, when I don't want to be associated with that group, or more accurately, don't want to have to hear the canned response for it, whatever it may be.

For example, I like heavy metal and anime, but have no desire to be a part of those counter-cultural groups. Unfortunately, it's pretty hard for me to talk about either of those things without people -- both inside and outside those ciricles -- from assigning me to that bin. It's not harmless categorization either: being considered to fit in those bins has pretty strong social baggage attached to it.