Comment by gattsuru on Y Couchinator · 2018-08-27T16:35:58.332Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I would caution that in many states -- including California -- the law specifically prohibits waiver of some tenant rights. Even where not prohibited, such waivers can be challenged easily and, even if that challenge is unsuccessful, will be both extremely expensive and time-consuming.

That style of worst-case scenario is unlikely, but it's something to be very aware about.

Comment by gattsuru on January 2016 Media Thread · 2016-01-06T01:42:50.142Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Abrams's style of movie-making is unbearably light and facile, to the point where blowing up multiple planets doesn't even register emotionally - and how did that particular scene even make sense? does this whole movie take place in a single solar system or something?

The Starkiller Base is described as a hyperspace weapon, while the target locations were (supposedly) all in one location, and Expanded Universe physics allow bleedoff of energy or physical interaction between objects moving within hyperspace and normal space (though never for anything interesting to my knowledge). This is kinda goofy, but you're in a Star Wars setting so it's not unreasonably so.

On the other hand, the use of planets to pull the projectiles out of hyperspace doesn't really make sense with how the Falcon breaks through the base's shields, so they don't do a terribly good job of staying with or explaining those rules in the film, and it's horrible at actually passing the impact of what is supposed to be billions of people dying.

I wasn't too put off by the protagonist's Mary Suedom, since she's Corran-Horn level at worst, but agreed with most of the other complaints and frustrations. It's also worth pointing out how extremely unsurprising the film is; even with the vast lows of the Expanded Universe, it picked not from its best moments and ideas but from many of its most unremarkable and boring.

Comment by gattsuru on Snape's knowledge of valence shells · 2015-04-14T01:55:55.733Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It's possible that he read it from Harry's mind. Snape is a powerful legilimens, does not believe that anything is cheating when he has to win, Harry had no protection or even deep knowledge of the technique, had to have been thinking of the answer, and hadn't thought to avert his gaze until later.

That said, Severus is more in tune with the Muggle world than most others in the setting, and in Chapter 61 we see Dumbledore treat him as an expert source on muggle technology :

"Severus?" the old wizard said. "What was it actually?" "A rocket," said the half-blood Potions Master, who had grown up in the Muggle town of Spinner's End. "One of the most impressive Muggle technologies."

Later in Chapter 18, we also see the phrase "Common sense is often mistaken for legilimency." Especially as a potions master and someone who retained an interest in muggle chemistry into adulthood, Snape does have more reason than most wizards to know this information. Harry also tends to overestimate both his knowledge, and both he and Quirrel tend to assume the victories of others come from innate differences rather than simple changes in planning or knowledge.

On the other hand, had Snape known that information, it would also mean he could have ended the world accidentally. Dunno what to make of that.

Comment by gattsuru on Discussion of Slate Star Codex: "Extremism in Thought Experiments is No Vice" · 2015-03-31T15:17:04.000Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

So that's an argument for why it would be better if life were fair.

If the experienced observations were to look different. Stuck with the universe we've got, though...

Comment by gattsuru on Discussion of Slate Star Codex: "Extremism in Thought Experiments is No Vice" · 2015-03-30T15:05:58.492Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I don't see what this quote is supposed to mean, besides a deep-wisdomy way of saying that you don't want to take responsibility for the consequences of your actions.

Ah, it's not really about locus of control: the context is destitute people falling ill due to contaminated food. It's more about situations where bad things happen that are not readily controlled or avoided due to lack of knowledge or circumstance.

The point of the quote is that it is no more comforting to be Job, and to have your family killed and everything taken from you because it is a deity's plan, than it is to be a moral nihilist who has your family killed and everything taken from you because the universe is a cold and unforgiving place. To many people, Job's deal is less desirable, because railing against the fundamental unfairness of the universe is a lot more socially condoned where a lot of deities are lightning-bolt-happy.

Comment by gattsuru on Discussion of Slate Star Codex: "Extremism in Thought Experiments is No Vice" · 2015-03-29T02:18:40.229Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Robertson doesn't strike me as a particularly scholarly thinker, but even less well-thought religious folk have confronted the problems of evil and tragedy. The story of Job is a common subject of discussion in churches and among religious folk, and it's always framed as horrible things happened to Job because of his belief in a deity and because of the deity. Christians aren't unused to the concept of bad things happened because of their faith rebounding on them.

He's fantasizing about the outside world giving 'indisputable proof' of external morality. The religious folk have /countless/ scenarios like this, and the better-spoken ones will explicitly call them tests of 'relative' morality.

There's a pretty easy response to Robertson's thought experiment even within that framing -- to borrow from Babylon 5's Marcus Cole, "wouldn't it be much worse if life were fair, and all the terrible things that happen to us come because we actually deserve them?" -- but the state of promoted discussion by atheists is so terrible that Robertson's probably not aware of it.

Comment by gattsuru on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 120 · 2015-03-12T20:37:41.976Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Also, whether Harry intended it or not, he gave two separate choices: whether Harry should stay away entirely, and whether Harry should be a friend that does not manipulate or risk harming Draco ever again. At least to some extent, Draco's refusal to respond reflects a disjoint answer to both questions, and has invited Harry to remain a friend that may manipulate or harm Draco for his own good.

Comment by gattsuru on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 120 · 2015-03-12T20:00:47.303Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Crouch, Nott, or Jugson, though I'd guess the latter more heavily -- Jugson's constantly in the center of the blood-purist aligned factions during one of the battle games, and mentioned as Dumbledore's example of a powerful Death Eater with a seat on the Wizengamot, as well.

Mr. White was selected for a particularly humiliating and harmful process, and coincidentally Quirrelmort had wanted to harm Lucius badly on the scale of framing him for attempted murder of his own son, and there's a pretty clear connection.

Comment by gattsuru on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 119 · 2015-03-12T16:21:48.472Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Possible, but Dumbledore's discussions of death and mortality in chapter 39 seemed like he was trying to avoid becoming Harry's Mentor/Opponent -- ie, if he were trying to manipulate Harry with this deep emotional reveal, he'd have done so in a different way. He continues to treat death as a normal matter in chapter 110, even though he doesn't believe Harry to be nearby and does believe that the only listener will not be able to communicate his position to Harry, and Quirrelmort says that he'd expoused such positions long before he had access or cause to access the hall of prophecies.

Comment by gattsuru on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 119 · 2015-03-12T00:36:08.119Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Dumbledore is fundamentally Deathist, and not only has he personally been locked out of mortality by his own trap, several of his interventions (most obviously killing a pet rock) were less related to making Harry oppose Voldemort effectively, and more into making Harry the sort of person that would promote transhumanist ideas including anti-Deathism.

Comment by gattsuru on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 119 · 2015-03-11T15:56:47.316Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

In this setting, there are things you avoid learning even if you're higher status than the secret-keeper. Some secrets are dangerous even to the listener.

I suspect Mrs. Bones includes anything rising from a fragment of Voldemort's torn soul, whether the trick that decapitated dozens or revived an ancient dark lord, in that set. Part of the reason she distrusts Harry is that she believe he's an eleven-year-old struggling with a dark spirit -- which gives him a comparative advantage of knowing what evils needs must be kept under wraps

Comment by gattsuru on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 119 · 2015-03-11T02:20:15.131Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I find it funny that Dumbledore's efforts to subvert prophecies for his own ends resulted in something directly opposed to his claimed values. I wonder if that's a direct attribute of prophecy, or just coincidence, or both.

Comment by gattsuru on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 114 + chapter 115 · 2015-03-10T15:40:30.529Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

He'd just been attacked by a magical source that disarmed his weapons at the wrists, was cast wordlessly and without wand motions, and did not leave an obvious bolt to block. This is probably a bad time to show off.

At a deeper level, Voldemort (and Mad-Eye Moody) favor a combat philosophy of dodging, under the quite reasonable realization that there are a large number of spells that can overwhelm shields or are unblockable.

Comment by gattsuru on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 118 · 2015-03-09T19:37:22.159Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

The Officials involved have believed Quirrel to be David Monroe for a long time (chapter 84), that seems to have become the Official Story over the last couple days, and Mad-Eye Moody knew that Quirrelmort should have been fired out of a cannon into a sun as soon as he took the Defense position, so they've been asking questions and taking the first reasonable answer for a while.

I'm fully expected Moody to dive through a door with stunners flying, yelling "Not paranoid enough!" because /someone/ didn't expect door transfiguration, but most of the other people involved have already gotten suspicious and had their suspicions allayed.

Comment by gattsuru on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 117 · 2015-03-09T05:03:47.873Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Then he'd be an eleven-year old surrounded by bleeding but live adult Death Eaters, and with only (and specifically) two tourniquets, with no easy way to get them medical attention or stun them.

There's ways to incapacitate them less lethally, but you'd need to think a little further outside of the box, and they're not really compatible with MoR!Harry's outlook nor the narrative progression.

Comment by gattsuru on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 117 · 2015-03-09T01:09:14.569Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

We have strong evidence suggesting that bringing people back to life is possible in this setting, and turning wizards into the same person except not-magic is possible. It does not require God-like powers, or even as much investment as bringing them back to life as magical beings, so much as it requires MoR!Harry to have been more invested in his ethics.

Of course, if he were, then they'd probably not have needed to die in the first place.

On the other hand... According to various world clocks, 37 people die every 15 seconds. I'm not so heavily into the effective altruism movement as to make an enemy of all but the most efficient options, but it's a number to remember. Most alternative methods for incapacitating the Death Eaters less-lethally would have had greater risk of failure, and most methods for would require significantly more time and magical power than saving an average life.

For as much as it makes Harry sympathetic to wish he didn't kill them, there's only so much investment to that purpose before it would be bad thinking of its own -- even if you don't value their lives less.

Comment by gattsuru on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 117 · 2015-03-08T22:05:50.948Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

In a search for kindness, not using cloistered information for personal advantage, and low tendency for factionalism, "child of a Death Eater" is a pretty hard constraint.

Comment by gattsuru on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 117 · 2015-03-08T20:52:12.843Z · score: 16 (16 votes) · LW · GW

Quirrel had seen Harry use /Diffendo/ on some trees, and later that the trees have been cut. He was unconscious (and in an extradimensional bag) when Harry had cut through the wall in Azkaban, and only saw a cut circle of wall. He may not have known that Harry had anything up his sleeve more complicated than a Cutting Charm; he certainly had no reason to believe that Harry could wordlessly transfigure the tip of his wand into well over a hundred feet of braided carbon nanotubes. Quirrelmort has never seen -- only Dumbledore, Hermoine, and Professor McGonagall have.

But that's really not the part that got him.

Quirrelmort had accepted the risk that Harry could have escaped, or killed everyone present, just as he accepted the possibility that the Unbreakable Vow wouldn't have been enough to stop Harry from destroying the world. If he were absolutely certain, he'd not have bothered with backup plans. He did not care about the deaths of the present Death Eaters, and losing his own body was merely a minor setback. It's Harry's ability to instantly and permanently incapacitate without letting Quirrelmort's spirit loose that made the threat serious. That's a problem Dumbledore was relying on an ancient and frighteningly powerful artifact to implement, and Quirrelmort's mode of thinking doesn't exactly encourage thinking of these matters..

Comment by gattsuru on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 114 + chapter 115 · 2015-03-05T22:03:24.712Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It's implied that more experienced wizards and witches can freely transfigure objects at a range, but Harry can't do that. However, even without Partial Transfiguration, objects that have been joined together can be transmuted as a whole (see chapter 28, with a wand touching one part of an object and converting parts into different components. We've also seen transfiguration operate differently on different components of a system. Once Harry has stuck spider-silk between his wand and a Death Eater, he can convert components of the Death Eater as easily as if he were standing next to them.

Harry's not shown any interest in this sort of biochemistry (the closest we've seen is a reference to "knockout gas", which means he knows less than nothing), and while propofol was well-known in 1992, it's not referenced in the sort of literature he's likely to read, he has been trained not to consider transmuting humans, his character isn't really aligned with less-lethal conversions, and there is a very high complexity penalty to this plan.

There are also some possible volumetric issues. We hadn't gotten an actual transfiguration rate since chapter 23, where he could only do five cubic centimeters per minute, while it would take about ~15 cubic centimeters of propofol to rapidly sedate this number of Death Eaters. The post-exam chapter gave an update of cubic millimeter "as fast as he can concentrate his will and magic" and "in a fraction of a second", which is imprecise enough to be useless. He was able to transfigure a unicorn in about an hour and a twelve-year-old's corpse fast enough to avoid notice, recently, and presuming unicorns are similar in volume to even a small horse he'd need to be moving much faster than 15 cubic centimeters a minute (900 cubic centimeters is less than a liter, a very small shetland pony would operate somewhere in the area of 180-200 liters, so... not sure folk did the math on that one).

But it's interesting as a thought experiment.

This isn't the only or even a particularly useful option -- Voldemort's gun could be rigged to fail in a cubic milimeter transfiguration, and to catastrophically fail in a cubic centimeter transfiguration; wands become dramatically less useful when they and their owner's fingertips are coated in a fine layer of teflon, vocal cords or the median nerve turned into cheese at about 1.5 cubic centimeters per person would make even wandless spell-casting impossible. More destructive but non-lethal options are left as an exercise for the reader.

Comment by gattsuru on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 114 + chapter 115 · 2015-03-04T23:45:46.583Z · score: 14 (14 votes) · LW · GW

What are you talking about here?

In Chapter 16, Quirrelmort instructed the class in a very simple hex that caused a small amount of pain and no lasting harm called Ma-Ha-Su. He then selects three students, Hermoine, Draco, and Harry Potter, and then requires them to select a student and fire Ma-Ha-Su at them, taking Quirrel and later House points for non-compliance. The comparisons to the Millgram Experiments become explicit in chapter 63. Hermoine refuses, Draco fires on Hermoine, and Harry fires on himself.

Harry explicitly beats Quirrelmort's plans, here : "Yes, quite ingenious, but there was a lesson to be taught and you dodged it." It's not clear he ever gets the intended lesson, given that Quirrelmort seemed to intend to teach Harry to harm Draco on obedient command.

Interestingly, this could have not just failed but have gone horribly wrong for Quirrelmort, and he wouldn't have even understood why. One of the common responses to Millgram-like actions in the last few years of science fiction is to turn on the person giving illegal orders. Harry wouldn't do that because of his upbringing, but other possible Riddle-clones would wanted to fire Ma-Ha-Su on Quirrelmort and claimed he counted as a student -- and either required he flinch or dodge from a trivial spell, or risked publicly triggering the resonance that would have brought Dumbledore down on Quirrelmort's head. The man's not exactly been known for his happy subservience, after all.

Even without reaching that unlikely but disastrous possibility, 'success' would have had dramatically different results than Quirrelmort expected, given Quirrelmort's difficulty understanding what Harry was trying to do with Draco even at that point. Blunt, blunt stupidity.

What does this mean?

Command Push is set of force philosophy where commanders give direct orders involving not only a mission's goal, but also its execution, tools, and specific tactics. It's very common historically, where communication is slow, or where the commander has much greater understanding of the field than individuals, but it's highly dependent on commander skill and knowledge, and very vulnerable to subterfuge. Quirrelmort is hugely prone to this, as are Harry Potter and (to a lesser extent) Draco.

This is usually contrasted with Recon Pull, Mission-type Tactics, or Command By Negation, where commanders provide goals, time constraints, and resources, but allow units to develop their own strategies to achieve those goals. This requires more training, faster communications technology, and higher levels of trust in subordinates (less so in Command By Negation, where you at least double-check with a commander), but puts more minds on a problem and can more readily adapt when lines of communication are cut or when situations on the ground change.

((Command Push and Recon Pull are video game terms from the Civilization series: different armies have different terms for these philosophies, usually subdivided into separate generations or divided by recent inspirations. Modern armies tend to use more modernized techniques derived from combinations of the two branches and further IT developments, though they'd not really be practicable in the time frame present here.))

Comment by gattsuru on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 114 + chapter 115 · 2015-03-04T16:34:39.903Z · score: 30 (32 votes) · LW · GW

Is that what we've seen presented so far?

Dumbledore won during the Battle of the Three Armies. His assault on Azkaban would have gotten him killed (and more seriously, set back his efforts by years) for a stupid communication error, were Harry not willing to risk his own life and invent new magic to save the man. Hermoine outlasted several hours of the Defense Professor's most aggressive psychological attacks possible, using fairly basic deontology. His 'lesson plan' with Ma-Ha-Su in Chapter 16 was bluntly stupid, even if Harry hadn't used the easy way out. In Chapter 35, he fears that Harry has screwed over his plans because of voicing an obvious disagreement that Harry has repeatedly given privately before.

And that's before we get to the stupidity that was enforced by canon : testing multiple novel spells (Horcruxes, however he 'reformated' the young Harry Potter) without sufficient and verified safeties, the highly fractious Death Eaters, the lackluster war with Dumbledore.

Quirrellmort is smart. He thinks ahead. But his fundamental philosophy is still very restricted. As much as he tries to claim otherwise, he's running on distilled Command Push -- we'll note that no Death Eater gave him advice in this chapter, nor would we expect them to. His speech in Chapter 34 follows the same philosophy.

But more importantly, he underestimates risks. He's a partially-formed rationalist, who has heard of Kolmogorov complexity but can't quite understand why he should shut-up-and-multiply yet. He leaves Harry a wand because wanded Harry is only a threat because of that wand if he has a) wordless, b) motionless, c) wanded, d) magic that can instantly disable Death Eaters, e) can hit him at all and f) threatens an immortal. It's understandable to not think Harry is a risk. A full-grown wizard in the same environment wouldn't be a risk -- Dumbledore or Mad-Eye Moody would have died, and died quickly. That's not as unreasonable a mistake as you'd expect.

Comment by gattsuru on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 114 + chapter 115 · 2015-03-04T07:15:40.025Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

MoR!Harry's opposition to killing has always been more of a philosophical objection than an instinctual one, foreshadowed heavily back in chapters 7, 10, and 16. Given the effects of Voldemort's alterations to his brain during youth, depending on your idea of identity this not the typical situation of confronting the psychological cost of taking life.

Ironically, non-lethal transfiguration was probably available, even if Harry wouldn't or couldn't think of it -- there's no restriction to, say, converting people's blood into propofol or methohexital, for example. That'd be unhealthy even beyond the normal health risks of human transfiguration, but in exchange for its risk of breathing issues and transmutation-related blood-clot-in-brain effects, comes with the benefit of exceptionally fast activity, and the volume required is well within the constraints of the problem. While the Deatheaters are more complicated a problem despite Voldemort calling them useless, there are a handful of other possible solutions that would be less likely immediately lethal. The only person Harry /had/ to maim was Voldemort, and that's because direct transfiguration would have alerted him.

Given that Harry almost certainly killed Sirius, and probably killed Lucius, and we have a number of chapters left, this may well end up being a narrative complication and a flaw, even if an understandable one.

Comment by gattsuru on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 114 + chapter 115 · 2015-03-04T00:05:53.438Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It's not been explicitly confirmed, but given the similarity in forms to later notes signed Santa (and confirmed to be Dumbledore), the note's writer claiming the Cloak was freely given by Harry's father, and the explicit warning against letting Dumbledore see the Cloak, it's very likely that Dumbledore gave Harry the Cloak as in canon.

Comment by gattsuru on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 114 + chapter 115 · 2015-03-03T19:33:32.744Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Dumbledore gave Harry a pack of cards that had portkey functionality, under the name Santa Claus and claiming that they were a portkey to Salem, but instead heading to a location somewhere in London. Harry gave them back for further investigation, thinking that they might be a trap, Dumbledore took them back but didn't activate the portkey.

It's possible that this was just a short reference, meant to establish Dumbledore's steps of trust in parallel to the gift of the Cloak of Invisibility, and that Harry did not retrieve the portkey and Dumbledore did not place it upon Harry's person...

But activation trigger was to rip the King of Hearts -- a king card known for its face character stabbing itself in the back of the head -- in half.

Comment by gattsuru on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 114 + chapter 115 · 2015-03-03T19:09:35.640Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

So there is no defense against Obliviation that Voldemort could have prepared for himself?

With perfect sight toward the future, perhaps he could have. It's far from convincing that it would have actually helped, without blocking thirty other vulnerabilities.

Obliviation's particularly interesting because it requires no upkeep, but it's far from the only thing that would bypass Horcruxes. Voldemort's just as vulnerable to being repeatedly stunned, to petrification (hence the murder of the basilisk), to transfiguration, to the Imperius, to pretty much any mind-affecting charm. The biggest defense is, well, the same as anyone else's defense to the Killing Curse -- don't be there. Creating a defense specifically against large-scale Obliviation isn't very valuable if the attacker has countless further options to permanently disable anyone so defenseless as to be vulnerable to an Obliviate.

Comment by gattsuru on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, March 2015, chapter 114 + chapter 115 · 2015-03-03T19:00:09.305Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Interesting. I wonder ifHarry just killed Sirius. I suppose that's not exactly the most important thing from a shut-up-and-multiply perspective, but it might also explain an additional reason why Harry avoids looking (and finding information about) something he may change later with the use of a time turner.

Also, no reference to a certain pack of cards yet.

Comment by gattsuru on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, February 2015, chapter 112 · 2015-02-25T22:48:35.593Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Before Harry shot at him, Voldemort was cursed to be unable to threaten Harry's immortality, and given the several times he's found himself getting wrong answers to questions previously, I don't think he was certain Harry would have betrayed him even with such a convenient que. So that covers anything that happens before Harry fires the gun.

After that point... I think he's trying to cover his bases. That he set up such a ploy to enable him to kill Harry means that he's likely at least going to try. But that's not the only Winning move, and it's a Winning move that prevents other Winning moves from being attempted.

"There are plots that must succeed, where you keep the core idea as simple as possible and take every precaution." "All thiss, all I have done, iss to ssmassh that desstiny at every point of intervention."

This is one of those plots. "Keep Harry Potter from destroying universe" does not allow duct tape, WD-40, and lesser wishes to attempt a do-over. Killing Harry is probably the most effective way to keep that from happening, if you can do it. The last time Vold tried to subvert or redirect a Prophecy by destroying most of a person involved, things went so badly he spent most of a decade as a howling disembodied spirit. It's not been explicitly stated that Prophecies act like Time Turners (aka DO NOT MESS WITH TIME/NO), but it's pretty strongly implied to result in something like Mage's Paradox or Continuum's Frag. Resurrecting Hermoine and giving aid to Harry Potter was something that had to be done before any Death Eaters were summoned and arrived, and was about the only such thing, and was disjoint enough from people directly related to the Prophecy as to be unlikely to result in Paradox/Frag.

Vold knows Harry's best friend as a pillar of restrictions. Even if we know her to be a threat to his plans, Vold knows that her death triggered Harry's transformation into The One Who Tears Stars and that this is more dangerous than even an immortal Hermoine.

((I think he forgot some of the matters he said earlier, though. The Parsletongue curse will probably strike soon since he promised neither he nor his would seek to ever harm Hermoine. I'm genuinely surprised that cutting curse here didn't already cause something horrible to happen to him.))

Comment by gattsuru on Stupid Questions December 2014 · 2014-12-15T23:57:16.218Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

What is your threat model?

An attacker creates a large number of nodes and overwhelms any signal in the initial system.

For the specific example of a reddit-based forum, it's trivial for an attacker to make up a sizable proportion of assigned reputation points through the use of sockpuppets. It is only moderately difficult for an attacker to automate the time-consuming portions of this process.

I also don't think there's a good solution to sockpuppetry short of mandatory biometrics.

10% of the problem is hard. That does not explain the small amount of work done on the other 90%. The vast majority of sockpuppets aren't that complicated: most don't use VPNs or anonymizers, most don't use large stylistic variation, and many even use the same browser from one persona to the next. It's also common for a sockpuppets to have certain network attributes in common with their original persona. Full authorship analysis has both structural (primarily training bias) and pragmatic (CPU time) limitations that would make it unfeasible for large forums...

But there are a number of fairly simple steps to fight sockpuppets that computers handle better than humans, and yet still require often-unpleasant manual work to check.

Why not? The trade-off is in the details of how much reputation matters. There is a large space between reputation being just a number that's not used anywhere and reputation determining what, how, and when can you post.

Yes, but there aren't open-source systems that exist and have documentation which do these things beyond the most basic level. At most, there are simple reputation systems where a small amount has an impact on site functionality, such as this site. But Reddit's codebase does not allow upvotes to be limited or weighed based on the age of account, does not have , and would require pretty significant work to change any of these attributes. (The main site at least acts against some of the more overt mass-downvoting by acting against downvotes applied to the profile page, but this doesn't seem present here?)

Not if you can trivially easy block/ignore them which is the case for Twitter and FB.

If a large enough percentage of outside user content is "bad", users begin to treat that space as advertising and ignore it. Many forums also don't make it easy to block users (see : here), and almost none handle blocking even the most overt of sockpuppets well.

Comment by gattsuru on Stupid Questions December 2014 · 2014-12-15T21:00:47.672Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

What's wrong with a username/password combo (besides all the usual things) or, if you want to get a bit more sophisticated, with having the user generate a private key for himself?

In addition to the usual problems, which are pretty serious to start with, you're relying on the client. To borrow from information security, the client is in the hands of the enemy. Sockpuppet (sybil in trust networks) attacks, where entity pretends to be many different users (aka sockpuppets), and impersonation attacks, where a user pretends to be someone they are not, are both well-documented and exceptionally common. Every forum package I can find relies on social taboos or simply ignoring the problem, followed by direct human administrator intervention, and most don't even make administrator intervention easy.

There are also very few sites that have integrated support for private-key-like technologies, and most forum packages are not readily compatible with even all password managers.

This isn't a problem that can be perfectly solved, true. But right now it's not even got bandaids.

Once again, with feeling :-D -- to which purpose? Generally speaking, if you run a forum all you need is a way to filter out idiots and trolls. Your regular users will figure out reputation on their own and their conclusions will be all different.

"Normal" social reputation runs into pretty significant issues as soon as your group size exceeds even fairly small groups -- I can imagine folk who could handle a couple thousand names, but it's common for a site to have orders of magnitude more users. These systems can provide useful tools for noticing and handling matters that are much more evident in pure data than in "expert judgments". But these are relatively minor benefits.

At a deeper level, a well-formed reputation system should encourage 'good' posting (posting that matches the expressed desires of the forum community) and discourage 'bad' posts (posting that goes against the expressed desires of the forum community), as well as reduce incentives toward me-too or this-is-wrong-stop responses.

This isn't without trade-offs : you'll implicitly make the forum's culture drift more slowly, and encourage surviving dissenters to be contrarians for whom the reputation system doesn't matter. But the existing reputation systems don't let you make that trade-off, and instead you have to decide whether to use a far more naive system that is very vulnerable to attack.

You can build an automated system to suit your fancy, but there's no guarantee (and, actually, a pretty solid bet) that it won't suit other people well.

To some extent -- spell-check and capitalization expectations for a writing community will be different than that of a video game or chemistry forum, help forums will expect shorter-lifespan users than the median community -- but a sizable number of these aspects are common to nearly all communities.

Why would Twitter or FB bother assigning reputation to users? They want to filter out bad actors and maximize their eyeballs and their revenue which generally means keeping users sufficiently happy and well-measured.

They have incentives toward keeping users. "Bad" posters are tautologically a disincentive for most users (exceptions: some folk do show revealed preferences for hearing from terrible people).

Comment by gattsuru on Stupid Questions December 2014 · 2014-12-09T23:34:00.943Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

what is it that you authenticate? Do you mean trust in the same sense as "web of trust" in PGP-type crypto systems?

For starters, a system to be sure that a user or service is the same user or service it was previously. Web of trusts /or/ a central authority would work, but honestly we run into limits even before the gap between electronic worlds and meatspace. PGP would be nice, but PGP itself is closed-source, and neither PGP nor OpenPGP/GPG are user-accessible enough to even survive in the e-mail sphere they were originally intended to operate. SSL allows for server authentication (ignoring the technical issues), but isn't great for user authentication.

I'm not aware of any generalized implementation for other use, and the closest precursors (keychain management in Murmur/Mumble server control?) are both limited and intended to be application-specific. But at the same time, I recognize that I don't follow the security or open-source worlds as much as I should.

For reputation as an assessment of user ratings, you can obviously build a bunch of various metrics, but the real question is which one is the best. And that question implies another one: Best for what?

Oh, yeah. It's not an easy problem to solve Right.

I'm more interested in if anyone's trying to solve it. I can see a lot of issues with a user-based reputation even in addition to the obvious limitation and tradeoffs that fubarobfusco provides -- a visible metric is more prone to being gamed but obscuring the metric reduces its utility as a feedback for 'good' posting, value drift without a defined root versus possible closure without, so on.

What surprises me is that there are so few attempts to improve the system beyond the basics. IP.Board, vBulletin, and phpBoard plugins are usually pretty similar -- the best I've seen merely lets you disable them on a per-subfora basis rather than globally, and they otherwise use a single point score. Reddit uses the same Karma system whether you're answering a complex scientific question or making a bad joke. LessWrong improves on that only by allowing users to see how contentious a comment's scoring. Discourse uses count of posts and tags, almost embarrassingly minimalistic. I've seen a few systems that make moderator and admin 'likes' count for more. I think that's about the fanciest.

I don't expect them to have an implementation that matches my desires, but I'm really surprised that there's no attempts to run multi-dimensional reputation systems, to weigh votes by length of post or age of poster, spellcheck or capitalizations thresholds. These might even be /bad/ decisions, but usually you see someone making them.

I expect Twitter or FaceBook have something complex underneath the hood, but if they do, they're not talking about the specifics and not doing a very good job. Maybe its their dominance in the social development community, but I dunno.

Comment by gattsuru on PSA: Eugine_Nier evading ban? · 2014-12-09T20:33:50.565Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Commenting to 'save' this comment. That's a really clever way to handle that.

Comment by gattsuru on Stupid Questions December 2014 · 2014-12-09T20:32:08.623Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

For clarity, I meant "trust" and "reputation" in the technical senses, where "trust" is authentication, and where "reputation" is an assessment or group of assessments for (ideally trusted) user ratings of another user.

But good point, especially for value systems.

Comment by gattsuru on Stupid Questions December 2014 · 2014-12-09T20:19:03.681Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

There are simultaneously a large number of laws prohibiting employers from retaliating against persons for voting, and a number of accusations of retaliation for voting. So this isn't a theoretical issue. I'm not sure it's distinct from other methods of compromising trusted users -- the effects are similar whether the compromised node was beaten with a wrench, got brain-eaten, or just trusted Microsoft with their Certificates -- but it's a good demonstration that you simply can't trust any node inside a network.

(There's some interesting overlap with MIRI's value stability questions, but they're probably outside the scope of this thread and possibly only metaphor-level.)

Interestingly, there are some security metrics designed with the assumption that some number of their nodes will be compromised, and with some resistance to such attacks. I've not seen this expanded to reputation metrics, though, and there are technical limitations. TOR, for example, can only resist about a third of its nodes being compromised, and possibly fewer than that. Other setups have higher theoretical resistance, but are dependent on central high-value nodes that trade resistance against to vulnerability against spoofing.

It seems like there's some value in closing the gap between carrier wave and signal in reputation systems, rather than a discrete reputation system, but my sketched out implementations become computationally intractable quickly.

Comment by gattsuru on Stupid Questions December 2014 · 2014-12-08T22:06:04.531Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Are there any good trust, value, or reputation metrics in the open source space? I've recently established a small internal-use Discourse forum and been rather appalled by the limitations of what is intended to be a next-generation system (status flag, number of posts, tagging), and from a quick overview most competitors don't seem to be much stronger. Even fairly specialist fora only seem marginally more capable.

This is obviously a really hard problem and conflux of many other hard problems, but it seems odd that there are so many obvious improvements available.

((Inspired somewhat by my frustration with Karma, but I'm honestly more interested in its relevance for outside situations.))

Comment by gattsuru on Stupid Questions December 2014 · 2014-12-08T21:27:18.622Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

A number of these matters seem more narrative or genre conveniences : Francisco acts a playboy in the same way Bruce Wayne does, Rearden's bridge development passes a lot of work to his specialist engineers (similarly to Rearden metal having a team of scientists skeptically helping him) and pretends that the man is still a one-man designer (among other handwaves). At the same time, Batman is not described as a superhuman engineer or playboy, nor would he act as those types of heroes. I'm also not sure we can know the long-term negative repercussions John Galt experiences given the length of the book, and not all people who experience torture display clinically relevant post-traumatic stress symptoms and many who do show them only sporadically. His engine is based on now-debunked theories of physics that weren't so obviously thermodynamics-violating at the time, similarly to Project Xylophone.

These men are intended to be top-of-field capability from the perspective of a post-Soviet writer who knew little about their fields and could easily research less. Many of the people who show up under Galt's tutelage are similarly exceptionally skilled, but even more are not so hugely capable.

On the other hand, the ability of her protagonists to persuade others and evaluate the risk of getting shot starts at superhuman and quickly becomes ridiculous.

On the gripping hand, I'm a little cautious about emphasizing fictional characters and acknowledgedly Heroic abilities as evidence, especially when the author wrote a number of non-fiction philosophy texts related to this topic.

Comment by gattsuru on Good things to have learned.... · 2014-12-06T00:58:50.285Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I took a Philosophy course that emphasized Aristotle, Sartre, Plato, Freud, Karl Popper, and a handful of psychologists and other philosophers that I frankly didn't bother to remember ten minutes after the final.

It didn't tell me why I'd actually care about philosophy.

Other harder sciences sometimes had this issue -- most notoriously math -- but the answer to a math problem is the same no matter why you're interested in it. That's not really the case here, and that my instructors didn't even feel such an argument was worth mentioning is... frustrating.

Comment by gattsuru on Good things to have learned.... · 2014-12-06T00:31:50.196Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

There have been some attempts to improve this, such as the video A Girls Guide To 21st Century Sex or the book Guide to Getting It On (obviously, both heavily NSFW) seem to be working toward helping this, though not without their limitations.

I've not seen much about the relationship aspects of sex that I can recommend, unfortunately.

I'm not sure a college curricula is the best place to examine these sorts of things, but for all the good Dan Savage or OhJoy!SexToy or Scarleteen do, it's disappointing that they're some of the best options available.

Comment by gattsuru on December 2014 Media Thread · 2014-12-03T21:23:22.369Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

How about ending or at least toning down the war on drugs?

In addition to the public choice theory issues that gwern has already described, many of the problems and most of the severe problems of the war on drugs are path-dependent. Just as the mafia didn't disappear at the end of Prohibition, there's no reason to expect gangs to close up shop because drug funding disappears.

Comment by gattsuru on December 2014 Media Thread · 2014-12-03T20:07:25.291Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The book is better than the HBO series, but both are very much written from a noncombat perspective and have a number of limitations because of that. If you enjoyed it, I'd strongly recommend trying to track down a copy of One Bullet Away.

Comment by gattsuru on Things to consider when optimizing: Commuting, Transportation · 2014-11-11T16:31:56.349Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Razor's handlebars are well-padded, but their mainstream models rely on hard plastic/resin materials for the wheel and only include shock absorbers on the higher-end models. It won't be too bad in parking lots, but older asphalt is pretty noticeable and you can feel the expansion joints in concrete sidewalks.

Other models sometimes include larger soft-rubber tires that should significantly reduce this effect. I've not tried them myself, though, and for some basic physics reasons this tradeoff will likely reduce speed and increase expended effort.

Comment by gattsuru on Open thread, Nov. 10 - Nov. 16, 2014 · 2014-11-10T23:53:31.108Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I would expect that even as a fairly squishy pro-abortion Westerner (incredibly discomforted with the procedure but even more discomforted by the actions necessary to ban it), I'm likely to underestimate the health risks of even contragestives, and significantly underestimate the health risks of abortion procedures. Discussion in these circles also overstates the effectiveness of conventional contraception and often underestimates the number of abortions performed yearly. The last number is probably the easiest to support through evidence, although I'd weakly expect it to 'fool' smaller numbers of people than qualitative assessments.

I'm also pretty sure that most pro-choice individuals drastically overestimate its support by women in general -- this may not be what you're looking for, but the intervals (40% real versus 20% expected for women who identify as "pro-life") are large enough that they should show up pretty clearly.

Comment by gattsuru on Things to consider when optimizing: Commuting, Transportation · 2014-11-10T20:53:05.562Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The IRS publishes a standardized mileage rate. This isn't a very accurate description of just the simple dollar costs of commuting by car, but it's at least a number that actually means something. Multiplied by your commute multiplied by times that commute is traveled gives you some idea of the costs of the commute.

That it presents somewhere in the order of a 100 USD to 300 USD in monthly additional costs for a ten mile difference in travel time to you work is almost certainly an underestimate, but it's really easy to forget these sort of tradeoffs when looking at a home to buy or rent or comparing different job offers.

The math for public transportation is a lot harder, and generalizes less (one person's relaxing train ride is another person's battle with nausea and agoraphobia). It's still a useful place to start.

Comment by gattsuru on Open thread, Nov. 3 - Nov. 9, 2014 · 2014-11-06T19:21:40.736Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Nate Silver (of 538) has some space that he's dedicated to this effort in The Signal and the Noise. Randal Olson's reproduced some of that related to current-day abilities, which show that we're currently able to give better-than-random results for a few days in advance, but not much better after that. And, unsurprisingly, data beats expertise when it comes to accuracy.

A good deal of the data-collecting tools have been developed or implemented relatively recently, and that seems to correlate with improvements to short-term forecasting, to the point where a five-day forecast in 1991 was roughly as likely to be accurate at a three-day forecast in 1981.

They've improved enough that they can probably be trusted to determine whether you should bring an umbrella tomorrow, but the historical numbers and especially expertise-based numbers were inaccurate enough to explain the origin of the meme.

Comment by gattsuru on Open thread, Nov. 3 - Nov. 9, 2014 · 2014-11-06T19:11:50.390Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Editing options do not appear to be available from the Youtopia list, and the only remaining Sequence-related tasks as of this post are related to reading and translation to foreign languages..

((Just trying to save folk time and account management.))

Comment by gattsuru on Open thread, Nov. 3 - Nov. 9, 2014 · 2014-11-05T17:56:40.165Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Some of these advances are also nearing the end of low-hanging fruit, most obviously image recognition. We're quickly approaching human levels for simple problems, and while there's a massive amount of space for optimization and better training, these aren't likely to be newsworthy in the same way.

Comment by gattsuru on Open thread, Nov. 3 - Nov. 9, 2014 · 2014-11-05T17:48:57.399Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Most obviously, the Streisand effect means that any effort used to silence a statement might as been used to shout it from the hilltops. The Basilisk is very heavily discussed despite its obvious flaws, in no small part because of the context of being censored. If we're actually discussing a memetic hazard, that's the exact opposite of what we want.

There are also some structural and community outreach issues that resulted from the effort and weren't terribly good. Yudkowsky's discussed the matter from his perspective here (warning: wall of text).

((On the upside, we don't have people intentionally discussing more effective memetic hazards in the open in contexts of developing stronger ones, nor trying to build intentional decision theory traps. There doesn't seem to be enough of a causative link to consider this a benefit to the censorship, though.))

Comment by gattsuru on Open thread, Nov. 3 - Nov. 9, 2014 · 2014-11-05T02:43:59.384Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

True, albeit in a way that is still costly, unlikely to leave an identifiable corpse, and prone to retributory violence. Depends on what sort of heroes and villains you're looking to write.

Comment by gattsuru on Open thread, Nov. 3 - Nov. 9, 2014 · 2014-11-04T16:39:45.001Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The high cost of access could well be the point : if you can easily hire a boat to get to your private island, it's pretty simple for governments or peoples to do the same, club you, and take your stuff. A hundred thousand bucks would cover invading you, and make good return on investment.

By contrast, you'd have to have something of very high value to cover a rocket launch, and that something must be mobile enough to send down easily. (Or in extreme cases, you might be the only people who retain full knowledge of the manufacturing necessary to make the rockets, in some way that isn't easy to reverse engineer -- see the difficulty we have reproducing several engine designs as a guide here.)

Comment by gattsuru on Open thread, Oct. 27 - Nov. 2, 2014 · 2014-11-01T01:33:58.329Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, other terminology is probably a better idea. I'd avoided 'trigger' because it isn't likely to actually trigger anything, but there's no reason to use new terms when perfectly good existing ones are available. Content warning isn't quite right, but it's close enough and enough people are unaware of the original meaning, that its probably preferable to use.

Comment by gattsuru on Stupid Questions (10/27/2014) · 2014-10-31T15:48:54.947Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Renting :

  • Landlord covers most maintenance. Most rental apartments will even mow the lawn and shovel snow, but .even renting a home will usually cover any serious elbow work. If the gutters leak and a kid throws a baseball through your window, you call the landlord and it gets handled. This isn't just monetary : it saves you from having to spend most of the time hunting these things down.

  • Mobility. If you got the job of your dreams and the love of your life half-way across the country, leaving a rental apartment or house requires days of work, where a purchased home may take months or even years to sell and absorb hours of your life monthly for that whole time period.

  • It's usually easier to rent closer to your workplace or desired location.

  • Renter's Insurance is usually easier to get and cheaper than home owner's insurance (because it needs to cover fewer things).

  • Some places may come with appliances, and rental apartments usually have easier access to home services. This isn't monetary -- you're paying rent for those appliances, efficient market hypothesis -- but it saves you from having to possess a refrigerator or washing machine and dryer.

Housing :

  • You get to possess a refrigerator or washing machine and dryer, so you're not stuck with a fridge built in the 1970s, or looking for a laundromat and twenty bucks in quarters.

  • Home improvement. It's both possible and reasonable to make changes to a house you own. You're responsible for making sure the water heater doesn't explode, but this means you can replace the water heater if it's the size of a small bucket. You're responsible for cleaning gutters, but this makes sure that it actually happens. This may be more responsive, as well, especially if you're reasonably handy.

  • Privacy. Even when renting a house, your landlord will almost always have the contractual ability to enter the building on fairly short notice (usually a day, sometimes less). Even good apartments let you hear more of your neighbors than you'd really want, and most apartments will have thinner walls than that. Especially valuable if you have odd hours.

  • Stability. Prices can change, sometimes significantly if you have a low-down payment mortgage, but the risks of being required by law to move are much lower if you own your home. It's rare to be able to rent a house for more than five years, and you'll usually pay a premium if you try. Likewise, things around you change more slowly : the friendly next-door neighbor is not likely to move out and be replaced by a bunch of college grads in housing areas, just because of how the transaction costs work.

  • Status.

  • No landlord. Rental agreements often have various levels of surprisingly strict regulations on behavior. If you want unusual pets, or satellite television, or a garden, you may well have to purchase to have the option.

Some reading : pro-rent and pro-purchase.