Posts

gilch's Shortform 2019-08-26T01:50:09.933Z · score: 3 (1 votes)
Stupid Questions June 2017 2017-06-10T18:32:57.352Z · score: 3 (3 votes)
Stupid Questions May 2017 2017-04-25T20:28:53.797Z · score: 7 (8 votes)
Open thread, Apr. 24 - Apr. 30, 2017 2017-04-24T19:43:36.697Z · score: 3 (4 votes)
Open thread, Apr. 17 - Apr. 23, 2017 2017-04-18T02:47:46.389Z · score: 1 (2 votes)
Cheating Omega 2017-04-13T03:39:10.943Z · score: 7 (8 votes)

Comments

Comment by gilch on The 3 Books Technique for Learning a New Skilll · 2019-09-12T16:05:47.331Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Petzold's CODE might be another good "Why" book. Its focus is a little more on computer architecture than programming per se, but that's an important topic for programmers to understand. It's a pretty easy read. I'd call it more of a pop book than a textbook, but it still covers important concepts. If you're looking to learn programming, I'd highly recommend reading it.

Comment by gilch on The 3 Books Technique for Learning a New Skilll · 2019-09-12T16:01:39.554Z · score: 5 (2 votes) · LW · GW

How to Design Programs (HtDP) might be a good "How" book.

Comment by gilch on Looking for answers about quantum immortality. · 2019-09-12T15:54:51.025Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Rationalists love criticism that helps them improve their thinking. But this complaint is too vague to be any help to us. What exactly went wrong, and how can we do better?

Comment by gilch on What's up with self-esteem? · 2019-09-12T15:46:50.144Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The "environment" also shifted dramatically with the agricultural revolution. I think there was plenty of angst to go around in the pre-industrial era. I would not expect the suicide rate to have increased on average.

Comment by gilch on Do you have algorithms for passing time productively with only your own mind? · 2019-09-12T05:05:28.503Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The early conceptual phase of invention can be done just by identifying a problem and pondering ways to solve it. Other kinds of creativity are possible to do entirely in your head in the short term: composing music, outlining novels, etc. But you can lose these if you don't write them down soon enough.

Comment by gilch on What's up with self-esteem? · 2019-09-12T04:44:03.989Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The pursuit of high self-esteem is a cultural mistake. There are touted benefits I don't think I need to repeat, but there are costs as well: distorted or narcissistic self-perception, emotional instability due to contingent self-worth, and hostility towards those who threaten one's ego. These are traits unbecoming of a rationalist, to say the least. More recent research points to self-compassion as the superior strategy. The attitude produces the same benefits, but without the drawbacks. [Epistemic status: there is published research on this topic, but I'm generally suspicious of findings in psychology due to the replication crisis.]

Comment by gilch on Looking for answers about quantum immortality. · 2019-09-10T15:00:05.246Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

As I said elsewhere observer moments need not be contiguous. And I agree that you could count as an observer if you're dreaming ("semiconsciouse maybe"), but not if you're anesthetized or similarly unconscious. This is probably the case in deep sleep and likely in comatose states.

Comment by gilch on Looking for answers about quantum immortality. · 2019-09-10T14:54:24.372Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I wouldn't consider it rational even if natural. You know what else is natural? Smallpox. The Appeal to Nature is generally considered a weak argument. A "natural life" is a stone-age life. You could certainly do worse, but it's not setting the bar very high.

Comment by gilch on The 3 Books Technique for Learning a New Skilll · 2019-09-10T04:36:01.233Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Concepts, Techniques, and Models of Computer Programming (CTM) is another good "Why" book.

Comment by gilch on The 3 Books Technique for Learning a New Skilll · 2019-09-10T04:30:35.984Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Introduction to Algorithms (CLRS) might be a good "What" book. [Edit: I'm no longer confident this fits into the "what" category.]

Comment by gilch on The 3 Books Technique for Learning a New Skilll · 2019-09-10T04:16:55.850Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Videos of the lectures that go with that book are also freely available online. I remember seeing two different versions.

Installing MIT Scheme might be an obstacle for someone new to computer programming. It might be easier to start by installing DrRacket and the SICP Collections.

Composing Programs might also be worth mentioning. It's a Python-based textbook in the spirit of SICP and covers some of the same ground in a more approachable way, but perhaps in less depth.

Comment by gilch on Looking for answers about quantum immortality. · 2019-09-10T03:40:19.056Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

A coma where you're semiconscious maybe. You can't get a successor observer-moment to the current one without the "observer". And have you considered more exotic possibilities like Boltzmann brains?

Comment by gilch on Looking for answers about quantum immortality. · 2019-09-10T03:33:31.579Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It was mostly just for contrast with the cryonics bit. Also, Quantum Suicide is another name for the same thought experiment. The others might be reacting to the "I'm in a bad place right now" combined with all this talk of death.

And I don't see how a death being "natural" makes it OK. Death is Bad.

if people got hit on the head by a baseball bat every week, pretty soon they would invent reasons why getting hit on the head with a baseball bat was a good thing.

If you want to live today, and expect to feel the same way tomorrow, then by induction, why not at 80? Ill health? Medicine might be more advanced by then.

Comment by gilch on Percent reduction of gun-related deaths by color of gun. · 2019-09-10T01:12:00.316Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I would expect an increase in police accidentally shooting children with toys, and children accidentally shooting each other with real guns. I'd also expect criminals to invest in black spray paint.

Comment by gilch on Percent reduction of gun-related deaths by color of gun. · 2019-09-10T01:11:05.782Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

There are already more guns that people in the US. If it was only new guns, I don't expect anything to change.

Comment by gilch on Alternative name for a Bug List · 2019-09-10T01:03:05.549Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW
  • Skill Repertoire
  • Arsenal of Powers
  • Codex of Virtues
  • Strengths Inventory
  • Facet Deck
  • Optimal Traits
  • Paragon Plan

I used a thesaurus.

Comment by gilch on Looking for answers about quantum immortality. · 2019-09-10T00:36:25.980Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I don't buy that argument about sleep, but what about anesthesia? I see no reason why successor observer-moments have to be contiguous in either time or space. They likely will be due to the laws of physics, but we're talking about improbable outcomes here. Your unconscious body is not your successor. It's an inanimate object that has a high probability of generating a successor observer-moment at a later time. (That is, it might wake up as you.)

Comment by gilch on Looking for answers about quantum immortality. · 2019-09-10T00:17:58.718Z · score: 8 (3 votes) · LW · GW

If quantum torment is real, attempting suicide would only get you there faster. It would restrict your successor observer-moments into only those without enough control to choose to die (since those who succeed in the attempt have no successors). Locked-in syndrome and the like.

Signing up for cryonics, on the other hand, would probably be a good idea, since it would increase the diversity of possible future observer moments to include cases where you get revived.

Enlightenment (in the Buddhist sense) might possibly be an escape. Some rationalists seem to take the possibility seriously and say you don't have to believe in anything supernatural. Meditation is just happening in your brain. If you do reach Nirvana, perhaps you can decide not to suffer at all, even if you do get locked-in (or worse). This kind of sounds like wireheading to me, but if the alternative is Literally Hell, then maybe you should take the deal. (Epistemic status: I'm not enlightened or anything. I've just heard people talk about it.)

Comment by gilch on What tools exist to compute all possible programs? · 2019-09-09T18:52:37.372Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

See https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iota_and_Jot This is a way to enumerate all possible programs as binary numbers.

Comment by gilch on Eli's shortform feed · 2019-09-04T05:53:12.904Z · score: 6 (2 votes) · LW · GW

On Hypothesis 3, the brain may build up waste as a byproduct of its metabolism when it's working harder than normal, just as muscles do. Cleaning up this buildup seems to be one of the functions of sleep. Even brainless animals like jellyfish sleep. They do have neurons though.

Comment by gilch on The Transparent Society: A radical transformation that we should probably undergo · 2019-09-04T01:47:11.094Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

My point wasn't that internet advertising in particular would be the cause of our inattention, but that humans have real limitations when it comes to processing information, with that being one salient example. We evolved in small bands of maybe fifty individuals. Our instincts cannot handle interactions in larger groups correctly. We have compensated to a remarkable degree via learned culture, but with some obvious shortcomings. More information would only amplify these problems.

I agree automation has a role to play in information processing, but that can amplify distortions on its own. Personalized search or divisive filter bubbles? Racist algorithms. Etc.

Comment by gilch on The Transparent Society: A radical transformation that we should probably undergo · 2019-09-04T01:34:23.605Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Also podcasts and video. Most of the population is not as literate as we are, but they can still digest audio. There are lots of video lectures on YouTube.

Comment by gilch on The Transparent Society: A radical transformation that we should probably undergo · 2019-09-04T01:20:51.921Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Information is not the only kind of power and information asymmetry is not the only kind of power asymmetry. How much does it help that you can watch what the police are doing when they still have all the guns? Maybe not such an issue in America, but what about Hong Kong?

Even if you have equal access to raw information, you wouldn't necessarily have equal ability to process it. Minorities can still be unfairly oppressed by majorities, even when everyone knows they're doing it. There's an ugly outrage/political correctness culture on Twitter and increasingly in academia that mobs anyone they notice who steps out of line. These people often use their real names. How do they get away with this abuse when everyone can see them doing it? I can speculate that they're more coordinated as a group than the individuals they target. If we give both sides more information, how far does it go to correct the power imbalance? Or does it just make things worse because the mob has more resources to utilize it already? Anonymity is a great defense against this abuse. Privacy helps a lot even without full anonymity. That's why the mob doxxes their victims when they can.

The general sanity waterline is currently really ridiculously low. More transparency might help to some degree, but if your epistemology is broken, more information doesn't help. It just gives you more ammunition to shoot your own foot with.

Comment by gilch on The Transparent Society: A radical transformation that we should probably undergo · 2019-09-03T06:42:19.459Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

A black marble is any invention that would kill the civilization that invents it by default, but perhaps not inevitably. Maybe you intended gradations of the concept beyond that? Maybe how much time it takes to build a weapon that kill how many? But I really doubt even the "easy nuke"-grade black marbles can be reliably stopped this way.

Comment by gilch on The Transparent Society: A radical transformation that we should probably undergo · 2019-09-03T06:20:00.843Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Privacy is a great protection against many other abuses, but I'm not sure it's a categorical good. Maybe there are good places in the moral landscape with transparent societies. But getting to there from here means either finding other ways to mitigate those abuses first, or crossing deep valleys where bad things happen a lot.

Comment by gilch on The Transparent Society: A radical transformation that we should probably undergo · 2019-09-03T06:13:37.853Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not convinced that radical transparency would save us from a black marble. Even with transparency, we might destroy ourselves before we see it coming, due to "failure of imagination". And even in scenarios where we could have seen it coming, that doesn't mean we will. Internet advertising is competing so hard for our attention right now that people are burning out from it. More information might just make that worse. Given the choice, people will look at what's most interesting, even if it's not the most important. Maybe we'd stop a few bad actors, but it only takes one that escapes notice for a while.

Comment by gilch on gilch's Shortform · 2019-08-26T07:20:14.553Z · score: 9 (3 votes) · LW · GW

They're both Lisps that can import Python, but Hissp has a very different approach and philosophy.

I'm not sure how closely you've been following Hy after you left the project, but for the benefit of other readers, I'll go into a little more detail. As you say, I was also a major contributor to the open-source Hy project, and am still part of the core development team. For a time I was one of the more active members, but my activity has since diminished. I realized that correcting some of Hy's deeper flaws might require a pretty deep rewrite, but building consensus with the few remaining active members of Hy's team proved too difficult. Hy is obviously a much older project than Hissp with more contributors and more time to develop. While my experience with Hy informs my design of Hissp, Hissp is not a fork of Hy's source code, but a completely new project with a fundamentally different architecture.

The biggest difference is that Hy compiles to Python abstract syntax trees (or "AST", an intermediate stage in the compilation of Python code to Python bytecode). In contrast, the Lissp language uses Hissp as its AST stage instead, and compiles that to Python code, which Python then compiles normally. Hy compiles to a moving target--Python's AST API is not stable. This helps to make Hissp's compiler simpler than Hy's.

Hissp code is made of ordinary Python tuples that serve the same role as linked lists in other Lisps, or Hy's model objects. Using these directly in Python ("readerless mode") is much more natural than writing code using Hy's model objects, although using the Lissp (or Hebigo) language reader makes writing these tuples even easier than doing it directly in Python.

Hissp is designed to be more modular than Hy. It supports two different readers (Lissp and Hebigo) with the potential for more. These compile different languages that represent the same underlying Hissp-tuple AST. The separate Hebigo language is indentation based, while the included Lissp reader uses the traditional s-expressions.

Hy code requires the hy package as a dependency. You need Hy's import hooks just to load Hy code. But Hissp only requires hissp to compile the code. Once that's done, the output has no dependencies other than Python itself. (Unless you import some other package, of course.) This may make Hissp more suitable for integration into other projects where Hy would not be a good fit due to its overhead. Hissp has already attracted some interest from the symbolic-pymc project for this reason.

Hy's compiler has a special form for every Python statement and operator and has to do a lot of work to create the illusion that its statement special forms behave like expressions. This complicates the compiler a great deal, and doesn't even work right in some cases, but allows Hy to retain a very Python-like feel. The decompiled AST also looks like pretty readable Python. Not quite what a human would write, but a good starting point if you wanted to translate a Hy project back to Python.

But after writing Drython, I realized that the expression subset of Python is sufficient for a compilation target. There is no need to do the extra work to make statements act like expressions if you only compile to expressions to begin with. It turns out that Hissp only required two special forms: quote and lambda. This makes Hissp's compiler much simpler than Hy's. But the lack of statements makes it feel a bit more like Scheme and a bit less like Python. And, of course, the expression-only output is completely unpythonic.

Another major difference is Hissp's qualified symbols. This allows macros to easily import their requirements from other modules. Macro dependencies are much harder to work with in Hy. I suggested a similar solution, but it has not been implemented in Hy so far.

I haven't covered every feature of Hissp, so there are more differences. See the tutorial and FAQ for a bit more thorough overview.

Comment by gilch on gilch's Shortform · 2019-08-26T01:50:10.196Z · score: 13 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Hissp: It's Python with a Lissp.

(Linkpost for the Hissp tutorial. $ pip install hissp and follow along.)

Hissp is a programming project I've been working on recently. It's a modular Lisp implementation that compiles to a functional subset of Python--Syntactic macro metaprogramming with full access to the Python ecosystem.

  • GitHub repo
  • Hebigo: an experimental indentation-based skin for Hissp.
  • drython: An earlier experiment of mine that built much of the conceptual foundation for Hissp. Its readme has an introduction to metaprogramming concepts in Python.
Comment by gilch on Matthew Barnett's Shortform · 2019-08-25T16:49:20.251Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I am assuming that the twins communicating thoughts requires an act of will like speaking does. I do have reasons for this. Watching their faces when they communicate thoughts makes it seem voluntary.

But most of what you are doing when speaking is already subconscious: One can "understand" the rules of grammar well enough to form correct sentences on nearly all attempts, and yet be unable to explain the rules to a computer program (or to a child or ESL student). There is an element of will, but it's only an element.

It may be the case that even with a high-bandwidth direct-brain interface it would take a lot of time and practice to understand another's thoughts. Humans have a common cognitive architecture by virtue of shared genes, but most of our individual connectomes are randomized and shaped by individual experience. Our internal representations may thus be highly idiosyncratic, meaning a direct interface would be ad-hoc and only work on one person. How true this is, I can only speculate without more data.

In your programming language analogy, these data types are only abstractions built on top of a more fundamental CPU architecture where the only data types are bytes. Maybe an implementation of C# could be made that uses exactly the same bit pattern for an int as Haskell does. Human neurons work pretty much the same way across individuals, and even cortical columns seem to use the same architecture.


I don't think the inability to communicate qualia is primarily due to the limitation of language, but due to the limitation of imagination. I can explain what a tesseract is, but that doesn't mean you can visualize it. I could give you analogies with lower dimensions. Maybe you could understand well enough to make a mental model that gives you good predictions, but you still can't visualize it. Similarly, I could explain what it's like to be a tetrachromat, how septarine and octarine are colors distinct from the others, and maybe you can develop a model good enough to make good predictions about how it would work, but again you can't visualize these colors. This failing is not on English.

Comment by gilch on Matthew Barnett's Shortform · 2019-08-25T04:44:50.223Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Let's extend the thought experiment a bit. Suppose technology is developed to separate the twins. They rely on their shared brain parts for vital functions, so where we cut nerve connections we replace them with a radio transceiver and electrode array in each twin.

Now they are communicating thoughts via a prosthesis. Is that not communication?


Maybe you already know what it is like to be a hive mind with a shared consciousness, because you are one: cutting the corpus callosum creates a split-brained patient that seems to have two different personalities that don't always agree with each other. Maybe there are some connections left, but the bandwidth has been drastically reduced. And even within hemispheres, the brain seems to be composed of yet smaller modules. Your mind is made of parts that communicate with each other and share experience, and some of it is conscious.

I think the line dividing individual persons is a soft one. A sufficiently high-bandwidth communication interface can blur that boundary, even to the point of fusing consciousness like brain hemispheres. Shared consciousness means shared qualia, even if that connection is later severed, you might still remember what it was like to be the other person. And in that way, qualia could hypothetically be communicated between individuals, or even species.

Comment by gilch on Matthew Barnett's Shortform · 2019-08-25T00:50:44.021Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

When I say "qualia" I mean individual instances of subjective, conscious experience full stop. These three extensions are not what I mean when I say "qualia".


Qualia are private entities which occur to us and can't be inspected via third person science.

Not convinced of this. There are known neural correlates of consciousness. That our current brain scanners lack the required resolution to make them inspectable does not prove that they are not inspectable in principle.

Qualia are ineffable; you can't explain them using a sufficiently complex English or mathematical sentence.

This seems to be a limitation of human language bandwidth/imagination, but not fundamental to what qualia are. Consider the case of the conjoined twins Krista and Tatiana, who share some brain structure and seem to be able "hear" each other's thoughts and see through each other's eyes.

Suppose we set up a thought experiment. Suppose that they grow up in a room without color, like Mary's room. Now knock out Krista and show Tatiana something red. Remove the red thing before Krista wakes up. Wouldn't Tatiana be able to communicate the experience of red to her sister? That's an effable quale!

And if they can do it, then in principle, so could you, with a future brain-computer interface.

Really, communicating at all is a transfer of experience. We're limited by common ground, sure. We both have to be speaking the same language, and have to have enough experience to be able to imagine the other's mental state.

Qualia are intrinstic; you can't construct a quale if you had the right set of particles.

Again, not convinced. Isn't your brain made of particles? I construct qualia all the time just by thinking about it. (It's called "imagination".) I don't see any reason in principle why this could not be done externally to the brain either.

Comment by gilch on Matthew Barnett's Shortform · 2019-08-24T20:08:35.308Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

In one scene in Egan's Permutation City, the Peer character experienced "infinity" when he set himself up in an infinite loop such that his later experience matched up perfectly with the start of the loop (walking down the side of an infinitely tall building, if I recall). But he also experienced the loop ending.

Comment by gilch on Matthew Barnett's Shortform · 2019-08-24T19:49:03.134Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Virtual particles "pop into existence" in matter/antimatter pairs and then "pop out" as they annihilate each other all the time. In one interpretation, an electron positron pair (for example) can be thought of as one electron that loops around and goes back in time. Due to CPS symmetry, this backward path looks like a positron. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9dqtW9MslFk

Comment by gilch on Matthew Barnett's Shortform · 2019-08-24T19:32:13.886Z · score: 2 (5 votes) · LW · GW

It sounds like you're talking about time travel. These "worms" are called "worldlines". Spacetime is not simply R^4. You can rotate in the fourth dimension--this is just acceleration. But you can't accelerate enough to turn around and bite your own tail because rotations in the fourth dimension are hyperbolic rather than circular. You can't exceed or even reach light speed. There are solutions to General Relativity that contain closed timelike curves, but it's not clear if they correspond to anything physically realizable.

Comment by gilch on What are good resources for learning functional programming? · 2019-07-06T22:06:15.756Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

[Disclaimer: I haven't finished it yet]

Haskell Programming From First Principles: Pure functional programming without fear or frustration by Christopher Allen and Julie Moronuki.

The preface explains how Chris wrote it in the process of teaching Julie, an absolute beginner to computer programming, and they refined the material together using that feedback process.

The result I found more approachable than Learn You a Haskell for Great Good, which I had read earlier.

This probably falls in the "How" category. It has exercises. But there is some exposition on the "What" and "Why" as well. If you work though it you should have achieved basic proficiency with the language, which should help you understand any ML-style language, or exposition using similar notation.

Comment by gilch on Counterspells · 2019-04-30T02:35:30.441Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I actually thought the term was apt. If someone is "under the spell" of bad ideas, you need to "break the spell" somehow before they can think clearly again. This usage is not without precedent. A particular kind of spell needs a particular kind of Counterspell to break it. It's an antidote, not a panacea, so the D&D conception fits the concept better than the MtG version.

Comment by gilch on Counterspells · 2019-04-30T02:28:47.313Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Dominate by what measure? In terms of scoring debate points with the audience, no. "Fallacy X" takes less time to say. People who don't know what "X" means may still assign you higher status because you named something in Latin, and assume people who can reply quickly are smarter, and therefore right.

Counterspells seem more effective when arguing in writing than in person, when the slower response time isn't as costly. You also wouldn't have to memorize them.

If the goal is to get a single interlocutor to actually change their mind, something like Street Epistemology might be better. Politics is the mind-killer. When a position is tied to identity, direct confrontations are simply attacks to be resisted. You have to cut sideways and undermine their foundations. Don't focus on the reasons why they believe (where Counterspells seem to be focused), but how they come to beliefs. If their epistemology is broken, don't expect more evidence to sway them--because they're just not listening.

But all of the above are still Dark Arts, because they're rhetorical tricks that can be selectively applied to anything you don't like. Yes, there has to be an opening. The interlocutor has to have at least appeared to have made a "mistake" in reasoning or at least the presentation of it, which may make it less Dark than more underhanded rhetorical tricks, but which openings you choose to attack shows your own bias.

If you care about the truth, don't reach for any formulaic gotcha ammunition. Steelman. Take the most charitable interpretation of the opposing argument you can muster, and then cut it down. If you can.

Comment by gilch on Counterspells · 2019-04-28T01:36:24.981Z · score: 23 (10 votes) · LW · GW

While I do think that rhetoric is a skill worth developing, don't forget that rhetorical tricks are Dark Arts.

Many so-called "Logical Fallacies" are unfortunately applied to arguments that are valid inferences. On priors, you are better off trusting experts in their field than laymen. But this is called the "argument from authority fallacy". The correct counter is Argument Screens Off Authority. And so on. Learning Counterspells is no substitute for grokking Bayes, and may even be harmful if they just give you excuses not to listen or more ammunition to shoot your own foot with.

Also, someone should totally make a card game out of this.

Comment by gilch on What are the advantages and disadvantages of knowing your own IQ? · 2019-04-13T04:11:38.898Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

IQ is measuring something real and important to life outcomes (the so-called g factor) but it is not everything that matters to life outcomes or cognition. As Keith Stanovich pointed out in What Intelligence Tests Miss, IQ is not the same thing as rationality. Your intelligence can defeat itself if misapplied. And due to human nature, it will. The more clever you are, the more ways you can deceive yourself. Reading the Sequences (or RAZ) can help you learn to stop doing that.

Why wouldn't you want to know your own IQ? Are you afraid a "bad" result would become a self-fulfilling prophecy? If you want to be more rational, then the truth is not something to be afraid of! You have been living your whole life with whatever IQ you have. Knowing your own strengths and weaknesses doesn't change what they are. It just gets rid of the weakness of not knowing that.

There are multiple components to IQ tests. You may be stronger in some areas than others. In my case, the IQ test revealed that I have a learning disability, despite having the overall genius IQ typical of LessWrong readers (or at least LessWrong survey takers).

Learning about this was not a disappointment. It was a relief. I had always felt like I somehow wasn't measuring up to my own apparent potential, but now I realize it wasn't my fault. Now that I know what my weakness is, I can better compensate for it, and better leverage what strengths I have.

While we don't know good ways to improve fluid intelligence by much (besides avoiding those things that make it worse, like sleep deprivation, etc.) there are well-known ways of increasing your crystallized intelligence: Read more and better books. Listen to audiobooks during your commute. Use SRS and mnemonics. Specialize. You can generally out-learn someone a bit smarter than you if you develop better study habits. And you can expect to far out-learn someone who isn't even studying your field.

You can also increase your effective fluid intelligence in many useful situations by using external tools. Working memory is consistently one of the worst bottlenecks in human cognition. Write things down when thinking. Draw diagrams. Take pictures.

Learn to use a computer more effectively. Try org-mode or FreeMind or TiddlyWiki. Learn to use a spreadsheet. Try AutoHotKey to improve your efficiency. Learn Python, if you can. Try working through a math book with Mathematica instead of pencil-and-paper. There's a night-and-day difference in effectiveness between an illiterate genius and a merely bright person who has access to a PC and Google and knows how to use them.

Comment by gilch on Open Thread April 2019 · 2019-04-02T02:46:00.546Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Markdown auto-increments numbered points while ignoring the actual number. I often number my numbered markdown lists with all 1.'s for this reason.

Comment by gilch on Do you like bullet points? · 2019-04-02T02:42:07.095Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Rather than bullet points per se, I find it natural to think hierarchically. Bullet outlines are one way of writing this hierarchy out. I think this is OK for a comment.

For a top-level post though, it feels unfinished. It's fine to start with an outline, but note that markdown headers also have hierarchical layers just like bullets, with paragraphs below that. Prefer the headers for posts and reserve bullets for very short "leaf nodes" below the level of paragraphs, and only when they add clarity.

If you find you like to think in outlines, I recommend trying FreeMind, which lets you uproot and graft entire subtrees with much less effort than typing bullets. Once you have your thoughts outlined, you can export to normal bullet points.

Comment by gilch on What are effective strategies for mitigating the impact of acute sleep deprivation on cognition? · 2019-04-02T02:16:57.613Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW
  • Get more sleep at night.
    • Take melatonin at the appropriate time and dose. It's cheap and legal in the U.S., but most products have way too much. https://slatestarcodex.com/2018/07/10/melatonin-much-more-than-you-wanted-to-know/ most insomnia drugs are not much more effective than this.
    • Avoid light at night, especially blue light. Light inhibits natural melatonin production, which interferes with you circadian rhythms.
      • If you can't darken your room completely, you can use a sleep mask instead. Get the kind with cups (like opaque swim goggles) instead of the kind that puts pressure on your eyes.
      • Use f.lux on your personal devices to reduce blue light after sunset or use one of the similar built-in features of your OS. Windows 10 has the new "Night Light" setting, macOS and iOS have "night shift" mode. Newer Samsung phones have a "blue light filter" setting. These options vary in quality and may have configurable intensity. More intense is more effective and it's surprising how much you get used to it.
    • Falling asleep is a common failure mode of certain types of meditation practice. You can use this to your advantage when suffering from insomnia in bed. Even beginners fail to meditate this way accidentally, so it's not particularly difficult to do on purpose. Focus your attention on the sensation of breathing or on the ringing in your ears. When you notice you are lost in thought, refocus your attention. But when you notice the dreaming arise without directed effort, dive in and let them take you. It works for me anyway. If not, at least you got your meditation in today.
  • Take naps. Even 20 minutes dramatically improves performance when sleep deprived.
    • Try the sleep mask when napping.
    • Try the meditation techniques for naps too.
  • Track your sleep quality.
    • You can get smartphone apps that purport to do this using the phone's sensors. Some fitness trackers or smartwatches also have this function built in or available as an app. Accuracy varies.
    • You may have sleep apnea. Talk to your doctor about doing a sleep study to diagnose possible issues and treatments. Some people do much better on a CPAP, but there are many other treatment options.
  • Avoid eating late at night. This can cause indigestion, which can keep you awake.
    • if you suffer from heartburn, sleep on your left side to contain it better, because your esophagus attaches to your stomach on the right side (unless you're one of those rare people with backwards internal organs).
  • Exercise regularly. I'm not sure why this helps, but it seems to. Perhaps mental fatigue doesn't always line up with physical fatigue unless you actually make some effort physically during the day.
Comment by gilch on What are effective strategies for mitigating the impact of acute sleep deprivation on cognition? · 2019-04-02T02:03:24.972Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

accidental duplicate

Comment by gilch on Ideas for a fact checking widget · 2019-03-19T02:14:17.936Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I have heard of similar attempts, for example, Media Bias/Fact Check (dot com) has some browser extensions, which purport to show the political bias of known sources. The website also claims to rate news organizations on factual accuracy.

That said, consuming even "honest" news sources will give you a very distorted picture of reality, due to the way the news tends to prey on human bias. Because of this, mere fact checking doesn't go nearly far enough: outliers need to be put in perspective.

Comment by gilch on Tiles: Report on Programmatic Code Generation · 2019-02-22T01:41:23.995Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

That real-world snippet example doesn't look very readable. Did the formatting fail? I don't see any line breaks and the # seem misplaced for comments.

Comment by gilch on Tiles: Report on Programmatic Code Generation · 2019-02-22T01:39:17.988Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

If I'm coding in Go, I want to use Go and I want to use its power fully. I don't want to use some crippled version of it that's used only inside of templates.

That's what makes Lisp macros awesome. You write them in Lisp.

Also, since you like Python, have seen the Mako language? It's less restricted than Jinja2 and can take pretty much arbitrary Python.

But, when rendering web pages, (the primary use for Jinja2) you want to keep as much complexity out of your templates as possible, so you can test your logic more easily. A restricted DSL enforces that.

Comment by gilch on The Best Textbooks on Every Subject · 2018-10-09T05:44:37.036Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Free to "borrow".

Comment by gilch on A Rationalist's Guide to... · 2018-08-19T04:03:32.242Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

OK, so go meta. How does one go about discovering these secrets? We don't all have to find the same one. How can a rationalist find these secrets better than average Joe?

Comment by gilch on Open Thread August 2018 · 2018-08-10T02:56:20.382Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I notice that I'm getting spam posts on my LessWrong RSS feeds and still see them in my notifications (that bell icon on the top right), even after they get deleted.

Comment by gilch on A Rationalist's Guide to... · 2018-08-10T02:51:18.941Z · score: 5 (4 votes) · LW · GW

How about A Rationalist's Guide to Early Retirement?

Or, If you're so rational, why ain'cha rich?

OK, so some of you got lucky with the Bitcoins. Can we do any better than buy-and-hold the index? (Like Wealthfront etc.) Option spreads? Tax liens? Arbitraging junk on Ebay? Do you have to start a company, or can you do just as well as a consultant? Are there easy ways to start up passive income or do you need a rich uncle?