Should I take glucosamine? 2020-12-02T05:20:04.734Z
Charting Is Mostly Superstition 2020-08-23T20:26:15.474Z
Market Misconceptions 2020-08-20T04:46:21.991Z
The Wrong Side of Risk 2020-08-16T03:50:03.900Z
How to Lose a Fair Game 2020-08-14T18:41:13.638Z
Repeat Until Broke 2020-08-13T07:19:30.156Z
You Need More Money 2020-08-12T06:16:09.827Z
When is the right time to hole up? 2020-03-14T21:42:39.523Z
Do 24-hour hand sanitizers actually work? 2020-03-01T20:41:43.288Z
gilch's Shortform 2019-08-26T01:50:09.933Z
Stupid Questions June 2017 2017-06-10T18:32:57.352Z
Stupid Questions May 2017 2017-04-25T20:28:53.797Z
Open thread, Apr. 24 - Apr. 30, 2017 2017-04-24T19:43:36.697Z
Open thread, Apr. 17 - Apr. 23, 2017 2017-04-18T02:47:46.389Z
Cheating Omega 2017-04-13T03:39:10.943Z


Comment by gilch on Which rationalists faced significant side-effects from COVID-19 vaccination? · 2021-06-17T18:20:35.640Z · LW · GW

February averaged 71 bpm. March 68 (only one reading though). April, the month of both doses, 81. May 82. June 80. So maybe by 10-13 bpm. The data is pretty sparse though.

Comment by gilch on Which rationalists faced significant side-effects from COVID-19 vaccination? · 2021-06-17T03:41:00.487Z · LW · GW

Sorry, I really can't recall. I'm probably more out of shape than usual due to mostly staying indoors for the pandemic year. Also higher than usual anxiety due to work recently. That could almost explain my symptoms, at least at first. That's why I thought nothing of it when it started, and also why I can't recall exactly when it started.

I do have some sparse fitness tracker data from that period. From that, it looks like my resting heart rate became elevated the week of the first dose, and has persisted until now. The two months before that were noticeably lower. But that's going by just a few manual readings per month, which is inconclusive.

I don't have the cough, but I had the vaccine, not the disease.

Comment by gilch on Covid vaccine safety: how correct are these allegations? · 2021-06-15T23:20:10.759Z · LW · GW

I've watched the whole thing now, at 2x speed. We've also got your summary with time index.

There are a lot of points in there, and we could try to verify each one. Anything particularly salient that you'd like us to focus on first?

To call the vaccines harmful on net, we have to compare that to the alternatives. Even if we accept (for the sake of argument) that the vaccine is toxic, presumably an actual infection has the potential to be much worse, since it produces the same spike protein. In my view, a lot of this case hinges on the availability of an effective prophylactic option as an alternative to the vaccines, or on the possibility that mass vaccination is somehow worse than the risk of infection.

So, in particular,

  • is Ivermectin (or some cocktail containing it) effective enough to be a viable alternative to vaccination?
  • Is the risk of female reproductive harm from the vaccines any worse than the risk from infection?
Comment by gilch on Which rationalists faced significant side-effects from COVID-19 vaccination? · 2021-06-14T22:35:00.374Z · LW · GW

Pfizer. I'm not sure if I recall the first dose that well. There was some inflammation in my shoulder area, near the injection site. Kind of expected with all vaccines. Nothing else that made an impression on me.

The second dose was a bit worse. The inflammation resulted in some deeper, but mild soreness in the shoulder joint. I also noticed some mild lower-back soreness, perhaps in the kidney region. I did not bother taking any painkillers because it was pretty mild and didn't last very long. Maybe a couple of days, so not really significant. This was also within expectations.

Lately, I've been having palpitations, sometimes enough to cause some insomnia. Also some intermittent chest aches, but it's very mild. It was noticeable enough that I've been checking my heart rate more than usual. It seems a little elevated, even at rest, maybe in the 80 bpm range. I'm normally in the 70 range at rest, and can get down into the 60s when I'm very relaxed.

I thought nothing of it at first, because occasional palpitations due to stress are not unusual, and I had reasons to be stressed. But it's been unusually persistent for probably over a month now, even though I'm feeling less stressed than usual, which is more concerning. I don't recall exactly when it started, but it was definitely some time after the second dose. It probably started more than two weeks after (although I can't recall exactly) so maybe it's unrelated. It did not occur to me that this could be due to the vaccine until I saw that Dark Horse video.

Comment by gilch on Covid vaccine safety: how correct are these allegations? · 2021-06-13T19:08:28.445Z · LW · GW

Informed consent is important. I don't recall being informed about accumulation in bone marrow or ovaries, or the risk of myocarditis or the risk of brain fog at the time I got my shots. Maybe some of these side-effects weren't known at the time. But that the vaccine didn't stay in the muscle and therefore might have systemic effects was news to me, and they're asserting that this was known at the time.

I've been experiencing persistent palpitations recently. It had not occurred to me that this could be due to the vaccine until I watched this video. I believed the mainstream line that the vaccines are safe and effective. I still think they're effective. The evidence for that is very strong. I'm less confident that they're safe now.

Confirmation bias is a serious concern when reactions are this delayed though. People develop health issues all the time for all sorts of reasons. If they're primed to think the vaccine could have long-term side effects, they'd probably attribute all sorts of things to the vaccine that are mere coincidence. So individual anecdotes are pretty weak evidence, but this noisy data is still worth collecting to see if any patterns emerge. On the other hand, if we've all been primed to think the vaccines are safe (and we have been), then we won't make the connection at all and don't even report the data, and this is one of the main concerns from the video. The issue has become too politicized for society to be objective about it. Legitimate concerns get you labeled as an antivaxxer.

Comment by gilch on Covid vaccine safety: how correct are these allegations? · 2021-06-13T07:22:37.626Z · LW · GW

Don't know yet. I've watched about half so far. My first impressions are similar to DPiepgrass.

Typical conspiracy theorists are fairly easy to recognize. They seem to take the axiom that everything happens on purpose. They don't notice the inconsistencies in their own models, and their bald assertions often don't stand up to easy verification, if you bother to check.

These are not crazy conspiracy-theory types. (That doesn't make them right.) They understand scientific thinking, are using the biology vocabulary correctly, and are trying to use gears-level models. They understand how the vaccines work, and what might go wrong. They accept the possibility that this isn't happening on purpose, but is just a bad outcome of incentives, something we already believe happens.

Kirsch (blue shirt guy) seems less careful than the other two, and may or may not be a crackpot. This doesn't necessarily make his concerns wrong. We should still try to verify their claims. Are these guys who they say they are? Do they have valid credentials? Does the spike protein break off so it could have systemic effects? How toxic is it? The vaccine might still win a cost-benefit analysis.

I've watched IDW videos before. They're an interesting bunch, some of them might even be rationalist adjacent, but this varies. They seem to like long conversations.

Whether or not this case has merit, the systematic censorship thing seems real to me. We've had measles outbreaks here in the U.S., despite having an effective vaccine. This is mainly due to the antivaxxers swallowing bullshit, and there's been a mainstream pushback. But Arguments Are Soldiers, so even when the antivaxxers have a point, the mainstream isn't allowed to admit it, especially in the face of the clear and present danger posed by the current pandemic.

The media's recent about-face on the lab-leak hypothesis is a recent example of this effect: it was on the "wrong" side politically, even though it had merit. Weak evidence is still evidence, and the truth doesn't become a lie just because the Enemy says it. Social media has been (fairly) blamed for spreading conspiracy theories, and so under pressure to take responsibility, they're trying to control the damage using blunt instruments, even if that means causing some collateral damage themselves.

How is a rational scientist supposed to navigate this environment? Often the answer has been "study something that isn't (politically) radioactive instead". That's not good enough this time.

Comment by gilch on Tips/tricks/notes on optimizing investments · 2021-06-13T01:17:34.458Z · LW · GW

Two reasons why I think reducing exposure during market volatility is a good idea.

First, volatility is predictable. (I don't think this fact violates the EMH, so it should be uncontroversial.) Future volatility is highly correlated with recent volatility.

Second, the Kelly strategy is optimal. More exposure only helps to a point, and after that increasing leverage actually reduces gains. The right amount depends on the future payoff distribution and the size of the current bankroll.

Given those two points, Kelly implies that if your bankroll just shrunk due to a losing bet, the previous amount of exposure you calculated is now too high, and you would need reduce your exposure to maintain the target fraction even if the payoff distribution didn't change. But we also know that the variance of the future payoff distribution is higher than what we calculated before, because volatility is somewhat predictable, and it just got higher, which suggests that you should reduce exposure even further.

Comment by gilch on Core Pathways of Aging · 2021-06-07T20:36:16.656Z · LW · GW

One interesting observation about transposons is that they were likely more plentiful millions of years ago given that our DNA is full with mutated transposons.

I don't think this follows. Transposons are parasitic; they're detrimental to their host. If our ancestors millions of years ago had many more active transposons than we do now, they would not have survived to reproduce.

The mutated transposons are better explained by occasional lapses of control in the germline that accumulated gradually over time.

Comment by gilch on The dumbest kid in the world (joke) · 2021-06-06T05:13:36.013Z · LW · GW

How else are we supposed to get a punchline?

Comment by gilch on For Better Commenting, Take an Oath of Reply. · 2021-05-31T21:08:38.408Z · LW · GW

Committing to reply to any comment seems like bait for trolls. Replying too much can be a bad thing. I worry about being off-putting by seeming needy or desperate. I also want to give my commenters a chance to talk to each other without me interrupting.

Comment by gilch on How to Lose a Fair Game · 2021-05-31T01:40:08.217Z · LW · GW

I came across a Mad Fientist article suggesting that a traditional IRA is worth it, even for early retirement, even if that means paying a 10% penalty on some of it.

Comment by gilch on How counting neutrons explains nuclear waste · 2021-05-31T01:10:50.426Z · LW · GW

Can't block neutrinos that way, but you needn't bother.

Comment by gilch on Why don't long running conversations happen on LessWrong? · 2021-05-31T00:06:01.552Z · LW · GW

It's not that long conversations never happen here. I had a pretty long conversation with valentinslepukhin under I would like to try double crux. The threads got so deep that the boxes started rotating. Neither of us managed to change the other's mind, so I'm not sure if I would call it a success. I think I did slip into soldier mode a few times. valentinslepukhin finally stopped responding. I'm not sure if he simply gave up, or got distracted and forgot to come back, or got banned without me noticing.

Is this kind of thing something you'd like to see more of on LessWrong?

Comment by gilch on Why don't long running conversations happen on LessWrong? · 2021-05-30T23:52:59.556Z · LW · GW

argument maps has an online implementation of these. I tried it out for a while. It was definitely interesting, but I think this is the wrong format for rational conversation. It was too focused on scoring debate points, at the expense of finding out what is true. It succeeded in being entertaining, but probably doesn't change anyone's mind very often.

Something more like collaborative Bayesian nets seems like a better approach for us, but if the software exists, I haven't found it yet.

Comment by gilch on The Sanity Waterline Bulges at the Middle · 2021-05-30T23:40:09.714Z · LW · GW

Of course, insane is not quite an apt descriptor for the two tail beliefs here. However, there are other areas where the insane/sane dichotomy really is appropriate (I hesitate to introduce them, as, naturally, they are the sort of thing that induces half of the population to froth at the mouth).

In retrospect, this may be the fatal flaw in attempting to introduce something like this. In order to properly provide evidence for an insane/sane split, one would necessarily have to pick an example that is culture-wars radioactive. It's my understanding that doing so is against site policy/norms, so I'm not sure how to approach this.

Does that really follow? From my perspective a lot of the culture war stuff misses the point. Sometimes both sides have a good reasons to be upset with the other, but arguments are soldiers. Sometimes both sides are wrong and there's a third way that isn't even part of the conversation. The current rationalist culture disagrees with the mainstream on numerous points, but not necessarily in ways that fall into the Overton window.

It's difficult to talk about this so abstractly with no examples. Are there any examples you could use that the rationalists already mostly seem to agree on? Is it possible you're simply wrong about these? Have you considered double-cruxing?

Perhaps you could introduce it allegorically? Write a fictional story illustrating the point. The insane probably won't get it.

Comment by gilch on The Sanity Waterline Bulges at the Middle · 2021-05-30T23:25:45.455Z · LW · GW

than if they went to university and ended up in a low-pay, low-impact jobs program for the overeducated such as ... well, I don't want to be rude and name the sectors, but I'm sure you can fill in the gaps.

Bullshit Jobs? It's not entirely obvious to me what you're referring to.

Comment by gilch on Peekskill Lyme Incidence · 2021-05-28T05:06:42.801Z · LW · GW

I'm surprised nobody has mentioned permethrin yet. It's an insecticide you treat your clothes with, and it rapidly kills ticks (and mosquitos). Ticks can't fly, so even treating your socks is supposed to be pretty effective. I'm not sure how that compares to a vaccine, but maybe it's the next best thing.

Comment by gilch on What's your visual experience when reading technical material? · 2021-05-28T04:16:35.721Z · LW · GW

I feel like I'm not comprehending the text if I'm not visualizing it to some degree. It's like I require the visualization to remember things. Symbolic/diagrammatic is also visual for me. Basically all of my sensory modes have to have a visual tag for me to remember them easily. I struggle to remember music without a lot of repetition. It induces the visual tags as I hear it, but it doesn't seem to round-trip properly. Maybe if I knew musical notation well enough to transcribe what I heard, I could do it that way and remember, but I don't.

Visualizing mostly happens naturally for me in the process of thinking. But more difficult material requires a slower, more conscious effort. I have to pause and think. That doesn't work while skimming, and it takes brain power away from other things. I feel like I'm not as aware of my visual field when concentrating, even if my eyes are open. I always had trouble keeping up with the lectures in school. I ended up zoning out and just reading the textbook. But I often watch YouTube lectures at 2x. This works because I can pause it if I need to think, or rewind if I missed something important while thinking.

When doing algebra, or refactoring code, I'm doing symbolic manipulation in my head in a visual way.

I think my imagination (and memory) might have been somewhat more vivid as a child. Now I can get away with lower-resolution abbreviations. But I also feel like I have better control now. As a child, I used to occasionally have chaotic visual thoughts that would sometimes become obsessive and hard to stop, like a day-mare. I can arrest such thoughts within seconds of choosing to do so now, and they're rare. I can also visualize three dimensions pretty well now. That took some practice, but it's a skill I started to develop while I was elementary-school age.

Comment by gilch on What's your visual experience when reading technical material? · 2021-05-28T02:48:28.632Z · LW · GW

Interesting that you can visualize while dreaming. From what I remember hearing about aphantasia, I thought dreams would be non-visual too. Maybe that can also vary with the individual.

Have you ever looked into lucid dreaming? That is, dreams when you're aware that it's a dream. The awareness lets you control it to some degree, by consciously shifting your expectations. There's a technique called Wake-Induced Lucid Dreaming (WILD) where you can shift from a waking state to a dreaming state without losing awareness. I'm wondering if the technique would be possible for you, and if you could learn to daydream (and then visualize) from the practice.

Comment by gilch on [Prediction] What war between the USA and China would look like in 2050 · 2021-05-28T02:32:17.000Z · LW · GW

My current impression was that both sides of the aisle are pretty frustrated with China right now. Not sure if that's what you meant, but it doesn't seem like a red-tribe vs. blue-tribe issue like Trump.

Comment by gilch on Open and Welcome Thread - May 2021 · 2021-05-23T06:05:17.347Z · LW · GW

See the Group Rationality topic. The rationalists, as a culture, still haven't quite figured out how to coordinate groups very well, in my opinion. It's something we should work on.

Comment by gilch on Where do LessWrong rationalists debate? · 2021-05-22T16:24:16.875Z · LW · GW

Looks like the IRC channel is shutting down due to Freenode legal drama. They're moving to

Comment by gilch on Agency in Conway’s Game of Life · 2021-05-19T22:16:58.171Z · LW · GW

Have you heard of Von Neumann's universal constructor? This seems relevant. He invented the concept of "cellular automaton" and engineered a programmable replicator in one. His original formulation was a lot more complex than Conway's Life though, with 29 different states per cell. Edgar Codd later demonstrated an 8-state automaton powerful enough to build a universal constructor with.

Comment by gilch on Open and Welcome Thread - May 2021 · 2021-05-16T21:17:05.612Z · LW · GW

The obvious inflation hedges are gold and Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS).

Less obvious ones include other precious metals, cryptocurrency, emerging market stocks, and certain foreign currencies. Diversification is usually helpful.

Why, exactly, are you expecting more inflation? Some of these might be better or worse investments, depending on your forecasts. For example, while EM stocks do relatively better when inflation is high, they also do best when growth is also high, and tend to perform poorly when growth is low, even if inflation is high.

Comment by gilch on Why quantitative finance is so hard · 2021-05-07T23:40:33.754Z · LW · GW

Possible takeaways from the "hypothesis space" principle, if I'm understanding it correctly:

Keep as small as you can. Trading strategies should be as simple as reasonably possible, with just a few simple rules. The more complex you make it, the more likely you're deceiving yourself by over-fitting to noise. More rules are more ways to mess up.

Most big-data techniques choke on this much noise. You can't just throw a machine-learning algorithm at market data and expect it to find much. (The first time I tried this, the strategy it came up with was "HODL!")

Make as big as you can. Gather as much data as you can. It can help to trade ensembles of securities if they show a similar inefficiency in their price data. You can profit from an edge like this even if you don't know exactly where it is. (I'm currently trading a forex strategy this way.)

When backtesting a strategy, you're trying to prove your hypothesis wrong, to see if perturbations make the "edge" disappear, not trying to optimize on past data. Any monkey can overfit to noise and make a backtest look good.

Pairs, baskets or index funds seem to be easier to trade profitably than their individual components.

Comment by gilch on Where do LessWrong rationalists debate? · 2021-04-29T22:11:29.546Z · LW · GW

there is a strong power law in effect: most comments are written by a few people, and most members are passive.

When the population exceeds Dunbar's number, that might be the best outcome we can hope for without layering on some kind of hierarchy or entrance exams or something.

Have you seen yet? Their threading model seems to be able to handle subtopics a bit more naturally than Slack or Discord, but my experience with it is limited.

Comment by gilch on Where do LessWrong rationalists debate? · 2021-04-29T22:03:01.336Z · LW · GW

It might be possible to consolidate some of these using Matrix.

Comment by gilch on Where do LessWrong rationalists debate? · 2021-04-29T21:57:41.640Z · LW · GW

I know of a #lesswrong IRC channel on Freenode. I think there were a few related #lw-* topical channels as well, but I'm not sure where to find them anymore. Someone claiming to be gwern is there, along with a few other regulars. I don't know who the admins are.

I'm aware of a LessWrong slack that's still somewhat active: I don't know who the admins are here either.

(There were also those two Discord servers mentioned in that investing thread.)

Comment by gilch on Rationality Cardinality · 2021-04-27T23:34:53.859Z · LW · GW

(Except for the cards about concepts that fell to the replication crisis, of course.)

Do we have a list of those somewhere? I need to learn what to unlearn.

Comment by gilch on Let's Rename Ourselves The "Metacognitive Movement" · 2021-04-26T20:40:16.618Z · LW · GW

I object to others calling me names. (That I don't approve of, yes.) Ad hominem is a Dark Art. Even if the name isn't exactly an insult, it can still put you in a box you maybe shouldn't be in. It can bias how others see you, or how you see yourself, once internalized. I want to keep my identity small, because identity is one of those things that can bias thinking in unhealthy ways.

I object to your name-calling being the price of entry to a tribe that I already feel that I belong to. Names are boundaries. They can exclude as well as include. If part of the tribe objects to the name, but part accepts it, that's a schism. Schisms aren't categorically bad, but I think this one would make the tribe weaker.

I object to having the same name for the community/movement/field/whatever. They should each have different names. You seem to think they're all the same thing. They're not.

Comment by gilch on Let's Rename Ourselves The "Metacognitive Movement" · 2021-04-26T18:51:49.250Z · LW · GW

What I think it is now and what I think it should be are two different things. I would prefer that saner people have more control in the world, and if that means some kind of activism, so be it. That could be instrumentally rational.

LessWrong, the website, however, isn't really set up for governance or mass coordination. We don't have parliamentary procedures, arbitration procedures, good ways to punish defectors, ways to buy in like a Kickstarter, or even a philosopher-king. And our only voting system is karma, which is too easily gamed were it to become political. We sort of have ways to establish facts, but that could be improved. The only avenue I'm seeing is political persuasion, which is taboo for good reason, because it risks destroying the very thing that makes LessWrong valuable: some semblance of sanity in a mad world. We have not yet perfected the Art. We are not immune to human failings. Perhaps rather than "sane" we are just a little LessWrong :)

If you want to set up a platform for coordination and governance by, for, and of rationalists, then I'm for it. I would love to have trustworthy rationalist institutions to tell me what to invest in or donate to or who to vote for or what risks are reasonable or aren't or how to optimize my health and well-being, but this should be external to LessWrong, so that when it fails (and it likely will—institution building is hard) then it won't take LessWrong down with it. My priors include rumors of group houses that did poorly, MetaMed and Arbital, which haven't worked out so well, and CFAR, which... is still there and doing stuff, I guess.

Discussing hypothetically how such institutions should work is totally on-topic for LessWrong though. Prediction markets? Approval voting? Science courts? Iterated trust kickstarters? Dominant assurance contracts? I don't think we've figured that out yet. I don't personally think that I have the skills to attempt this right now. But we should keep trying. How often do startups fail? 90% of the time? An those that do succeed often have the experience from failing before. The 10% that do succeed are worth it. We see postmortems from institution building attempts here from time to time. I think they're valuable.

Comment by gilch on Let's Rename Ourselves The "Metacognitive Movement" · 2021-04-25T22:26:47.343Z · LW · GW

But if "metacognitive movement" is a better name, then we should consider adopting it. If we can't solve that coordination problem, then I'm worried about our ability to solve the more important ones.

Setting aside the name for the moment, I feel that "we" have never been particularly good at solving coordination problems. See Why Our Kind Can't Cooperate.

LessWrong itself is not really about coordination. It's more about sanity in a mad world. One of the prices we pay for that sanity is a cultural taboo on getting too deep into politics, because Politics is the Mind Killer. It's why the default commenting guidelines here say "Aim to explain, not persuade".

To the extent that "we" have succeeded in coordinating, it's usually been by building institutions of sane(r) people outside of LessWrong proper, not by persuading lots of LessWrongers to coordinate on LessWrong. If you want to organize an outside institution around a goal, then you can give that institution an appropriate brand.

Comment by gilch on Let's Rename Ourselves The "Metacognitive Movement" · 2021-04-25T22:07:05.119Z · LW · GW

I feel very resistant to the name change, and am cringing at the thought process that even brought it up. This feels like it's getting dangerously close to mindkilling/politics territory, the first step in a schism.

“Since you are so concerned about the interactions of clothing with probability theory,” Ougi said, “it should not surprise you that you must wear a special hat to understand.”

When the novice attained the rank of grad student, he took the name Bouzo and would only discuss rationality while wearing a clown suit. —Two Cult Koans

The Tribe is not the Movement is not the Goal is not the Brand is not the Way. Conflating these seems like a misstep. They are not the same. Which thing are we trying to name?

Branding is advertising is Dark Arts. When we resort to the practice of Dark Arts, we should do so with both eyes open: with a clear goal in mind and an awareness of the risks and costs.

Who gets to control the name? Who decides who is in or out? Names can be diluted or stolen. Remember what "Nanotechnology" used to mean? It used to be molecular assembers. Now it's just fine powders. Remember what "the Singularity" used to mean? It used to be an AI FOOM, now it's just Moore's Law. I'm sure you could come up with more examples.

Comment by gilch on Let's Rename Ourselves The "Metacognitive Movement" · 2021-04-25T21:57:01.864Z · LW · GW

I have never liked the "rat" nickname. I'm not a filthy rodent. I've never heard the term "rationalish" before now.

I've always resisted using the term "rationalism". I feel like "-ism" is a misstep into politics (and already the name of the 17th-century anti-empericists). We practice "epistemic rationality" and "instrumental rationality", together, "rationality", not "rationalism".

Comment by gilch on Updating the Lottery Ticket Hypothesis · 2021-04-22T04:19:40.318Z · LW · GW

I've heard it attributed to Michelangelo, but that may be apocryphal.

Comment by gilch on Are there opportunities for small investors unavailable to big ones? · 2021-04-20T01:11:39.871Z · LW · GW

The type of alpha trading available to retail investors tend to be slow-converging, noisy inefficiencies. Things like statistical arbitrage (pairs trading/baskets), or style-factor trades (illiquidity, momentum, carry, etc.), which persist for economically plausible reasons. You have to be willing to very systematically grind out small edges over a long time, because often about half of the trades are losers. You also need applied data science to find these and notice when they dry up. "Gut feels" are all but useless in the face of this much noise.

Big investors, on the other hand, prefer to exploit fast-converging supply-and-demand imbalances. High-frequency trading, direct arbitrage between exchanges, dispersion trades, etc. You need a lot of capital and staff, but the trades are much more reliable, in the sense that if the edge disappears it's easy to notice that quickly. Why would they bother with the slow trades when they're busy exploiting the fast ones?

Comment by gilch on Problems of evil · 2021-04-19T19:45:30.906Z · LW · GW

Strong downvote from me. 5000 words and not worth reading. If there was a point in there, I couldn't find it. A lot of talking and not a lot of insight. Wondering about nonsense with not enough criticism. Maybe this this kind of thing passes for philosophy in academia, but I expect better on LessWrong. Philosophy is a diseased discipline and Theology most of all. I am not categorically opposed to discussing some these topics, but is this the best we can do?

Comment by gilch on Why has nuclear power been a flop? · 2021-04-19T07:05:25.944Z · LW · GW

Not for 365/7/24 energy needs.

Wind and PV will require grid-scale energy storage. At this rate it looks like batteries will get there first, but there are other possibilities. Any fair accounting for the cost of renewables vs nuclear has to account for this part, since nuclear is a baseload source in its own right and doesn't need the batteries. The "cheap" renewables right now are wind and photovoltaic.

However, there are many baseload renewable sources, such as hydro, ocean wave, geothermal, solar thermal, and high-altitude wind. Most of the easy geothermal and hydro sources have been tapped already, and more would be damaging to their local environment.

Solar thermal and enhanced hot dry rock geothermal have great potential as renewable baseload sources. They work practically anywhere, although not equally well anywhere.

Comment by gilch on Why has nuclear power been a flop? · 2021-04-19T06:38:18.073Z · LW · GW

There is only enough uranium to provide half of the world's power for fifty years.

Not sure where that number came from, but it's not accounting for breeding U-233 from thorium or breeding fissile plutonium from depleted uranium. Fast neutron reactors can burn most actinides, including the bulk of the so-called "nuclear waste" from lightwater reactors, and as ChristianKl already mentioned, we know how to extract uranium from seawater. This is much more expensive, but nuclear reactors require so little fuel that it amounts to a tiny fraction of their operating costs, so it wouldn't affect the price of nuclear power much. Getting enough fuel is really not the issue.

Renewable energy sources have become cheaper than nuclear power in recent years.

Nuclear should be a lot cheaper than it is, and this is due to the red tape, as explained in the post.

Mining for uranium ore and producing uranium does occupy much land, consume much energy and emit much carbon dioxide. The reason is that there is only about one ton of uranium per forty tons of ore. (Renewables don't consume as much land as some people say, since you can put solar cells on roofs, grow crops under the panels of solar farms etc.)

Mostly true for mining anything these days. And you still need minerals to produce solar panels, wind turbines, and the batteries required to make them work in place of baseload, etc. Nuclear, on the other hand, requires uranium in very small quantities.

I dispute that you can grow crops under solar panels. Wind turbines, sure, but they're loud. Maybe some plants are OK with some degree of shade, but they do require sunlight, and efficient harvesting requires access with big tractors.

Smart grids can solve the base load power problem with renewables.

Smart grids aren't good enough, but they could help. Renewables can't easily be used for baseload without some kind of grid-scale storage, but advancing battery technology may address this in the near future.

Comment by gilch on What are some real life Inadequate Equilibria? · 2021-04-19T06:06:51.565Z · LW · GW

We should be teaching trigonometry and the unit circle in terms of tau instead of pi, that is, since the mathematically natural angle measure is radians (not diameters), we should express radians in terms of the ratio of the radius to the circumference, instead of the ratio of the diameter to the circumference, which adds a spurious factor of 2 everywhere.

The choice of pi in the first place was due to path dependency, and is now extremely entrenched. (Nearly?) all of our textbooks use pi and all our school graphing calculators have a pi button. Python, however, is more enlightened.

Comment by gilch on What are some real life Inadequate Equilibria? · 2021-04-19T05:53:43.188Z · LW · GW

Drug expiration dates are probably far too conservative in most cases, with strict regulations forcing hospitals to discard medication that is likely still effective, and to go to the expense of replacing it, which makes medical care that much more expensive than necessary, and worse, they are still required to do so even during a shortage when replacements are not available, potentially costing lives.

The FDA allows manufacturers to extend expiration dates with further studies, but big pharma has little incentive to do so. Studies are expensive, and shorter expiration dates mean they can sell more drugs.

Stockpiles of medicines are important to the military, and the government also maintains stockpiles for emergency civilian use, but keeping these up to date given short expiration times is very expensive, so at the behest of the Department of Defense, the FDA undertook the Shelf Life Extension Program, which proved that many medications remain effective for years past their expiration date when properly stored, saving the government a lot of money on maintaining stockpiles. But hospitals are still required to throw these away.

One wonders why the expiration dates were set so short to begin with, or not extended automatically through continued testing.

Comment by gilch on What are some real life Inadequate Equilibria? · 2021-04-19T05:20:09.375Z · LW · GW

Scott mentioned another one recently:

I’ve had Uber drivers who were doctors back in their home countries. They’re stuck driving Ubers because the US insists that nobody - not British doctors, not Canadian doctors, nobody - can work in the US unless they repeat their last four years of training in an American hospital. American hospitals don’t have many training positions, and reserve the ones they do have for American med students, so most of them can’t do it. Meanwhile, my patients complain of having to wait months to get a desperately-needed appointment, and the hospitals just say “well, there aren’t enough doctors”. There are, they’re just all driving Ubers because of regulatory failure!

Comment by gilch on Why has nuclear power been a flop? · 2021-04-17T18:51:00.746Z · LW · GW

Link is broken (404).

Comment by gilch on The Darwin Game · 2021-04-15T06:01:24.011Z · LW · GW

Zack_M_Davis isn't the only one.

I've also written Hissp now. I'm curious how they compare for data science work (and other applications).

I've also seen evhub, the author of Coconut, here on LessWrong.

Comment by gilch on What Surprised Me About Entrepreneurship · 2021-04-15T05:17:54.544Z · LW · GW

I know of no good books on this subject. In my experience, you have to understand what it's like to use many different software paradigms and how they are implemented.

Maybe Concepts, Techniques, and Models of Computer Programming? I haven't finished that one, but the first part was good.

Comment by gilch on Covid 4/9: Another Vaccine Passport Objection · 2021-04-13T19:36:51.670Z · LW · GW

Then the week afterwards, the world learned that Emergent had put ingredients for the AstraZeneca vaccine into a batch of Johnson & Johnson vaccine, running the entire batch of 15 million doses.

Did you mean "ruining"?

Comment by gilch on Open and Welcome Thread - April 2021 · 2021-04-13T17:01:27.115Z · LW · GW

U.S. pauses J&J COVID-19 vaccine over rare blood clots

Zvi argued pretty persuasively that it was a massively bad idea when most of Europe suspended the AZ vaccine for similar reasons.

Are we making the same mistake now, or is it different this time for some reason?

Comment by gilch on A Brief Review of Current and Near-Future Methods of Genetic Engineering · 2021-04-11T16:30:36.562Z · LW · GW

Are sperm necessary at all? Eggs have also gone through meiosis, so they're haploid just like a sperm nucleus. Can you just implant the nucleus from a selected embryo's egg into another selected egg and then add the "you've been fertilized" chemical signal? I'm not sure how complex that process is.

If that's too hard, what about surgically swapping in the nucleus from an egg cell produced from a selected embryo into a healthy sperm cell? Would the sperm function for long enough to fertilize an egg?

Of course, we can only produce females this way, but that could still be transformative (unless you can make oocytes from male cells to get a haploid nucleus? They do have one X chromosome, so they should have the required genes.)

Comment by gilch on A Brief Review of Current and Near-Future Methods of Genetic Engineering · 2021-04-11T16:08:50.971Z · LW · GW

Searching around the web, it looks like most miscarriages are due to aneuploidy. That would be easy to detect and select against.

It's hard to find good numbers for the human mutation rate. I saw numbers ranging from 42 to 200 per generation. Sperm seem to have more mutations than eggs on average. It can vary based on environmental exposure to mutagens, and older parents tend to have more mutations on average. Perhaps embryonic parents simply wouldn't have the time to accumulate many mutations. On the other hand, one has to do unnatural things to get these embryonic cells to turn into gametes. If any of these steps are mutagenic, then the mutation rate could be even worse.

Comment by gilch on A Brief Review of Current and Near-Future Methods of Genetic Engineering · 2021-04-11T00:41:48.345Z · LW · GW

Wouldn't genes which stop the baby from being born, quickly exit the gene pool?

Yes, by killing the fetus before it's born. New mutations still happen all the time. Usually they hit junk DNA and not much happens, but what if it breaks something vital? And it's possible to inherit deleterious recessive alleles from both parents. That why incest is still a problem, from a genetic standpoint.

Similarly for gamete formation processes which allow such mutations to arise?

And yet we still have transposons. Evolution requires some amount of mutation, which is occasionally beneficial to the species. Species that were too good at preventing mutations would be unable to adapt to changing environmental conditions, and thus die out.