Poly marriage? 2012-06-06T19:57:50.836Z · score: -9 (35 votes)
wireless-heading, value drift and so on 2011-04-16T06:45:54.847Z · score: -1 (15 votes)
Complete Wire Heading as Suicide and other things 2010-10-28T23:57:30.200Z · score: 0 (3 votes)


Comment by h-h on LW Women: LW Online · 2013-02-18T06:59:59.844Z · score: 3 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Gender relations = politics.

Comment by h-h on Rationalist Lent · 2013-02-17T20:34:36.608Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Not speaking of Lent specifically, but abstinence can restore enjoyment as much as teach impulse control. Take chocolate for example; overindulge and it'll lose it's appeal, so then take a month/40 days/etc break from it and you'll be able to eat it again. Or -more anecdotal- in Ramadan Muslims are supposed to abstain from food & sex during the day, this leads to a lot of 'feasting' once night falls as well as a marked increase in sex.

You don't have to do Lent or whatever, but such rituals are/can be quite useful.

Comment by h-h on [Link] St. Paul: memetic engineer · 2013-01-13T03:01:46.734Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

The idea that Christianity was born under a foreign military occupation and had to compromise with it & Islam didn't and went on to make it's own empire is correct.

But the author's assertion that Islam can be nothing but theocratic -"it lacks separation of church and state"- is far from accurate. In the first place, the first Muslim civil war was fought over the question of whether government was secular (Sunni's) or theocratic (Shi'a) and was resolved in favor of the secular side. The fact that the overwhelming majority of Muslims past and present theoretically & practically confirm secular over theocratic government is not a minor footnote, the author paints with a very wide stroke here.

Muslims did have institutions besides the basic Caliphate structure, in fact the Arabs borrowed quite heavily from the Roman/Byzantine tradition in the early (Umayyad) years, going on to absorb the Sassanid modes of government in latter (Abbasid) times. Successive Muslim kingdoms and empires mixed and merged those traditions with their own according to their specific tradition (Turkish, Berber etc) well enough to rule over vast swathes of the old world and their numerous peoples and traditions for well over a millennium, continuing to this day. So the claim that "Islam" lacked/s institutional ingenuity/flexibility is moot. All 'civilizations' have up and down periods, history is not so simple as to be explained from first principles yet.

He makes another inaccurate assertion; that Europeans left the Middle Easterners and co. in the dust because of "separation of church and state".

The advancements in science and technology the Europeans used to gain an edge with weren't hindered by the church by the sixteenth century or thereabout when the Ottomans began receding. In fact some of those discoveries were made by men of the church in the first place. My point being; church and state as in "political and religious power lying in separate hands" isn't what gave the Europeans an advantage, my own opinion is that geographic and ethnic factors played that role but that's a post of it's own so I'll stop here.

As an exercise, does "give unto Ceaser ..." explain why say, the Chinese succumbed (Unequal Treaties, Opium Wars)? Does democracy? The United Kingdom is both a democracy and fairly prosperous, but current china is an authoritarian 'People's Republic' and seems poised to be even more prosperous. Yes there are differences in scale but then wasn't Qing China -the guys who lost the Opium Wars- much larger and more populous than the British Isles back then too? Whatever it was that made the British beat the Chinese back then or makes China ascend so quickly today as to leave All of Europe combined let alone the UK in its dust, it's clear that simplistic answers like "Separation of Church and State" or "Favorite Ideology" are not sufficient if you want to say something meaningful about history.

Comment by h-h on [Link] The Collapse of Complex Societies · 2013-01-01T09:28:04.849Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

hey gwern, I like your writings & have developed a taste for stuff like this, any more recommendations?

Comment by h-h on Beware Selective Nihilism · 2012-12-20T23:02:10.644Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

"You can't reject absolutes without un-restraining certain particulars -that should remain just that- to replace it" is this a fair description of your position here Wei?

Comment by h-h on Train Philosophers with Pearl and Kahneman, not Plato and Kant · 2012-12-08T05:47:56.843Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

"old dead guys" is mind kill, and it sounds immature/impolite.

On the post itself, it'd be awesome if SIAI starts this in-house, something along the lines of semester long CFAR boot camp.

Comment by h-h on EY "Politics is the Mind Killer" sighting at Washington Examiner and · 2012-09-29T08:48:51.554Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks for the clear reply, and I agree with your points.

IMO the fact that Politics is a moderately functional substitute for direct bloodshed means that the 'rational' in any 'rational alternative' has little to do the masses becoming more rational, as opposed to careful grooming by an informed clique capable of long term planning.

That doesn't necessarily imply a shadowy cabal of super secret rationalists deftly maneuvering the public for it's own good. Rather, something as simple as spreading basic rationality skills is sufficient if we emphasize 'long term', as we should.

But that good work has to come with a working theory of capital r 'Rational Politics' or LW's knowledge base has a huge chunk missing under the 'Practical knowledge' heading, say an LWer of high karma by some twist or other became adviser to the Archduke of Wallachia, will the people be better off or not?

In other words, if despite the impressive body of knowledge created here the preferred way for dealing with politics is either: a. Outright tabooing the subject or b. Denouncing the masses as prone to being insane...

Then surely as a community can do better than that?

Admittedly I'm not that well versed in political studies myself, and I'm not calling for Eliezer or anyone else for that matter to focus on this, rather I believe the community is mature enough to have a theoretical discussion about politics -and yes, that includes discussion of parties, partisan positions etc- without devolving into mudslinging or shouting matches.

A curated area in LW with strict rules -default set to anonymous posting, no more than 5 posts per day etc- should solve most potential issues, the hullabaloo that happened during say, the feminist war is not impossible to contain.

Comment by h-h on EY "Politics is the Mind Killer" sighting at Washington Examiner and · 2012-09-29T06:59:15.007Z · score: -2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Wedrifid, I was disappointed that Eliezer so succinctly identified the problem then mostly left it hanging.

Now, your comment fundamentally missed the point I was making, furthermore you seem to be acting out a common politician's caricature, I don't see you making an actual argument here & tbh I'm slightly surprised as you usually do much better than that.

Either way. in the interest of preserving the sanity waterline I'll stop here.

Comment by h-h on EY "Politics is the Mind Killer" sighting at Washington Examiner and · 2012-09-29T06:35:38.796Z · score: -1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I was encouraging the reader not to identify with either raiders or victims.

Comment by h-h on EY "Politics is the Mind Killer" sighting at Washington Examiner and · 2012-09-28T06:49:32.434Z · score: -9 (15 votes) · LW · GW

If we didn't have politics, we'd raid each others' villages and steal the women and sheep instead. Politics is a way to avoid direct bloodshed, and as such is an improvement.

What I'm saying is, Eliezer identifies the problem, but where's the alternative?

Comment by h-h on How can we get more and better LW contrarians? · 2012-06-25T15:14:32.798Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I have a habit of editing a comment for a bit after replying, actually I didn't see your response until after editing, I don't see how this changes your response in this instance though?

I added that caveat since the former group might have members who originally suffered more from procrastination as per the model, but eventually learned to deal with it, this might skew results if not taken into account.

Comment by h-h on Reply to Holden on 'Tool AI' · 2012-06-24T23:04:26.521Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'm happy you asked, I did need to make my argument more specific.

Comment by h-h on How can we get more and better LW contrarians? · 2012-06-24T22:50:02.113Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Upvoted for good reasons for upvoting :)

For data, we could run a LW poll as a start and see. And out of curiosity, why would you be surprised?

Comment by h-h on How can we get more and better LW contrarians? · 2012-06-24T22:35:37.971Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yes & I'd modify that slightly to "the former group needs to more actively combat procrastination".

Comment by h-h on Reply to Holden on 'Tool AI' · 2012-06-24T22:08:52.735Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, and this is why I asked in the first place. To be more exact, I'm confused as to why Eliezer does not post a step-by-step detailing how he reached the particular confidence he currently holds as opposed to say, expecting it to be quite obvious.

I believe people like Holden especially would appreciate this; he gives an over 90% confidence to an unfavorable outcome, but doesn't explicitly state the concrete steps he took to reach such a confidence.

Maybe Holden had a gut feeling and threw a number, if so, isn't it more beneficial for Eliezer to detail how he personally reached the confidence level he has for a FAI scenario occurring than to bash Holden for being unclear?

Comment by h-h on Reply to Holden on 'Tool AI' · 2012-06-24T21:41:11.384Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

hmm, I have to ask, are you deliberately vague about this to sort for those who can grok your style of argument, in the belief that the sequences are enough for them to reach the same confidence you have about a FAI scenario?

Comment by h-h on How can we get more and better LW contrarians? · 2012-06-24T21:21:14.167Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The Akrasia you refer to is actually a feature, not a bug. Just picture the opposite: Intelligent people rushing to conclusions and caring more about getting stuff done instead of forsaking the urge to go with first answers and actually think.

My point is, we decry procrastination so much but the fact is it is good that we procrastinate, if we didn't have this tendency we would be doers not thinkers. Not that I'm disparaging either, but you can't rush math, or more generally deep, insightful thought, that way lies politics and insanity.

In an nutshell, perhaps we care more for thinking about things -or alternatively get a rush from the intellectual crack- so much that we don't really want to act, or at least don't want to act on incomplete knowledge, and hence the widespread procrastination, which given the alternative, is a very Good thing.

Comment by h-h on New Year's Prediction Thread (2012) · 2012-01-09T03:14:20.094Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I like this, source please?

Comment by h-h on Knox and Sollecito freed · 2011-10-04T02:06:54.233Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

upvoted for empathy remark, but I don't know JoshuaZ, a "slow painful, agonizing death" for a mistake sounds too vengeful to me..

Comment by h-h on Meditation, insight, and rationality. (Part 1 of 3) · 2011-05-01T04:09:50.544Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

but isn't being presented with a to-do list or alternatively feeling hungry then finding food different than 'forming goals'?

to be more precise, maybe the 'survival instinct' that leads them to seek food is not located in their emotional centers so some goals might survive regardless. but yes, the assumption is untested AFAIK.

Comment by h-h on wireless-heading, value drift and so on · 2011-04-16T18:45:18.386Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

very smart people have issues with CEV, example:

and as far as I remember CEV was sort of abandoned a while ago by the community.

and yes, you value humans, others in the not so distant future might not given the possibility of body/brain modification. anyway, the gist of my argument is that CEV doesn't seem to work if there is not going to be much coherence of all of humanity's extrapolated volition's-a point that's already been made clear in previous threads by many people-what I'm trying to add to that is to point out the overwhelming possibility of there being 'alien minds' among us before a FAI could be built.

I also raised the question that If body modification is widely available, is it ok to prevent people from acquiring an 'alien' set of morals, one that would later on be a possible hindrance to CEV-like proposals? how can we tell if its alien or not in the first place?

Comment by h-h on Cryonics and the importance of body to cognition · 2011-03-12T13:50:54.814Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

without a body the brain won't 'work', the brain is very much linked to the rest of the body, the fiction that we only need the head to 'reanimate' a person back to normal is just that, fiction.

wei Dai:"rebuilding/simulating the body to the level of detail needed to support cognition" yes,but how complex is the nervous system? which wire connects to which, or is that not important? seems to me that you're oversimplifying..

Comment by h-h on Some Heuristics for Evaluating the Soundness of the Academic Mainstream in Unfamiliar Fields · 2011-02-16T18:25:20.985Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I have to ask, how much do you know of 'Quranic studies'? as far as I know, the new testament and quran are structured quite differently, hence research-which I'm not aware of-would be different as well?

Comment by h-h on The Neglected Virtue of Scholarship · 2011-01-09T00:46:37.320Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I think tighter definitions are needed here, some theistic traditions consider all existence to be 'god' etc.

Comment by h-h on Yes, a blog. · 2010-11-25T23:15:12.384Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I'm curious, have you used Wikipedia for non-scientific/technical stuff? it can be quite a biased source there..

Comment by h-h on Intelligence vs. Wisdom · 2010-11-05T06:49:20.364Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

it's good ..

you seem to be saying-implying?- that continuity of identity should be very important for minds greater than ours, see

I 'knew' the idea presented in the link for a couple of years, but it simply clicked when I read the article, probably the writing style plus time did it for me.

Comment by h-h on Ben Goertzel: The Singularity Institute's Scary Idea (and Why I Don't Buy It) · 2010-10-30T17:10:00.961Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

regardless of dis/agreement, guy has a really cool voice

Comment by h-h on Luminosity (Twilight fanfic) Part 2 Discussion Thread · 2010-10-29T03:41:28.391Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I've sometimes read romance novels, more a function of my reading appetite at the time, plus no books remained in the house except those, I've also read a couple of -video-game stories, including some vampire ones to be relevant for your example, I agree that they have mildly interesting twists, enough for guilt pleasure level.

I can't put a name to it, but it doesn't require such a leap to see the relation between reading things like tvtropes and then to an extent Twilight? on that note, what do you read for fiction generally?

Comment by h-h on Call for Volunteers: Rationalists with Non-Traditional Skills · 2010-10-29T03:11:56.864Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

sounds like a good idea (though I'm not giving up on the Dark Arts class/sequence yet ..), given that OP does "encourage you to post your skills here anyway" I think bringing this up in the open thread or as a general call to candidates should be worthwhile, this can effectively and depending on the instructions make short work of most barriers to publishing an LW top level post, given relevant and interesting topics of course.

we have been experiencing a slump of late, I think this potentially helps in overcoming the slow stagnation that happens in all forums after the early 'glory days' are over.

Comment by h-h on Call for Volunteers: Rationalists with Non-Traditional Skills · 2010-10-29T01:51:15.384Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

ok, so I'm considering that a discussion post at least should be made, any thoughts?

it could potentially be part of the sequences, although Eliezer and others do cover the Dark Arts I don't recall a dedicated thread. I found some good examples from a quick googling, like Yvain's Defense Against The Dark Arts: Case Study #1 or The Power of Positivist Thinking

what makes an irrational argument convincing is human biases, but what I think lacks is more focused treatment of things like good writing or effective signaling, I haven't read all of LW though so it might just be a simple task of collecting articles, but I don't feel that's the case, or is it?

Comment by h-h on Complete Wire Heading as Suicide and other things · 2010-10-29T01:30:56.206Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I believe it does need modifying the utility function given technological constrains, consider for example if the simulated person's physical body was threatened and they were not be able to respond appropriately, This is one of the main reason I included suicide next to lobotomy, I wasn't really clear on that, but you make a much more interesting point.

now that I think about it-for a few minutes-I generally agree with you, attaching sensory and motor nerves for a simulated universe is in fact a form of wire heading. I wonder if my definition of full wireheading needs to be changed though? I don't specify any time constraints because the utility function can in fact change 'for the better' under correct circumstance, not to mention the general case of human terminal values having natural or provoked drift as Rain eloquently put it.

actually, I'm interested in why you include jacking into a a simulation as wireheading for reasons other than not interacting with the real world? does it apply if we include a defense mechanism yet the person remains engrossed in the simulation?

Comment by h-h on Call for Volunteers: Rationalists with Non-Traditional Skills · 2010-10-29T01:11:42.508Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

precisely the reasons why we want better dark art skills just for the sake of countering them at least? I'm half tempted to start a thread on this, but I can't write as clearly as most here.

Comment by h-h on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 4 · 2010-10-29T00:18:52.827Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

yeah, punishing agents for doing 'bad things' as a deterrence against other agents acting similarly is quite rational.

Comment by h-h on Call for Volunteers: Rationalists with Non-Traditional Skills · 2010-10-29T00:10:52.097Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

rationality might have at some point evolved from the dark arts themselves, i.e. human propensity to make up reasons as they go might have lead to their being better minds at making up reasons and arguments-I read that in an article somewhere but can't remember where exactly.

The dark arts get too much mud slung at them and IMO warrant further study,careful dissection by wise men wearing all the necessary charms and offering appropriate sacrifices should be sufficient ..:)

Comment by h-h on Slava! · 2010-10-28T23:20:38.137Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

ok, I was careless, I apologize, still the argument remains unanswered satisfactorily..

my-and others'-main argument against meditation as a rationality increasing tool is that the less than perfect brains we have are not sufficient at dealing with biases and so forth. I can see that you've pretty much said the same or close to it in your reply above, so that's that.

P.S disjointed sentences?

Comment by h-h on Strategies for dealing with emotional nihilism · 2010-10-16T02:03:35.798Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

this is tangential to the thread; but Nietzsche's writings frequently seem to be quite religious actually, take his Übermensch theme for e.g., which makes the absolute/divine/god/etc become part of man, a theme prevalent in Christianity as well.

Comment by h-h on Strategies for dealing with emotional nihilism · 2010-10-16T01:19:02.684Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

but one can go back to being nihilistic if one chooses to, I think this does not strongly seem to be the case for wire heading.

Comment by h-h on Strategies for dealing with emotional nihilism · 2010-10-16T01:10:19.033Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

true- I usually go with cleaning my Bookmarks instead of physical books though-it helps a lot since not doing stuff or lacking enthusiasm for what I do are my main reasons for slipping into a nihilist mood.

Comment by h-h on Strategies for dealing with emotional nihilism · 2010-10-16T00:58:58.681Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Good going :)

Comment by h-h on Slava! · 2010-10-15T23:10:07.196Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

hmm, another positive reference to Buddhism.. I'm personally biased against in all of it's versions, more than I am of say christianity etc-IMO it does not deserve all the praise/advertisement it's been getting on LW of late, and my bias aganst it is confirmed by the ease with which it has suddenly creeped up LW.

as a rationalist-not technophile/libertarian etc but as one who seeks to be more rational, do you seriously believe in what Buddhism preaches? all of it?

if you're going to cherry pick then why call it Buddhism and praise it so? I fail to see this as being "less wrong" in any way, maybe I just don't get it, and if so I would greatly appreciate a simple and rational explanation of why I-or Eliezer or anyone else-should take "good" Buddhism seriously in our pursuit of rationality?

my problem is mainly, the attachment of Buddhist teaching with 'meditation'-which seems to be universal and not only a Buddhist practice-of some value but not more than say studying human bias or generally reading the average LW top post.

Comment by h-h on Slava! · 2010-10-15T22:48:15.800Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

a reaction to cuteness more than anything else?

Comment by h-h on Open Thread, August 2010 · 2010-09-06T03:11:34.761Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

to put it mildly I don't believe anyone can address that objection satisfactorily, as wedrifid put it eloquently, the math is part of the map, not territory.

if the math of QM does describe reality to some degree or other -- then that's >enough for the quantum tests of particle identity to work exactly.

agreed, that was partially my point a couple of posts ago. for practical reasons it's good enough that the math works to a degree.

Comment by h-h on Open Thread, August 2010 · 2010-09-06T03:03:52.498Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

good point about the map/territory distinction, that was what I intended to say but couldn't put into so few words, thanks :)

and no, it seems that not even Frog can escape this, I'm not sure about it's significance here though?

Comment by h-h on Open Thread, August 2010 · 2010-09-06T03:02:28.002Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I noticed, but there was a clear difference that I felt was necessary to point out regardless.

Comment by h-h on Open Thread, August 2010 · 2010-09-05T09:45:39.205Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

yes, I had that specific post in mind when I presented the atom example. you're correct here though, I should have said particles,I shouldn't write so late after midnight I guess..

now I admit that my understanding of quantum mechanics is not that much above a lay persons', so maybe I just need to apply myslef more and It'll click, but let's consider my arguement first:- here's what EY said in reply to a post in that thread-emphasis mine: "There can be properties of the particles we don't know about yet, but our existing experiments already show those new properties are also identical, unless the observed universe is a lie."

and then: "Undiscovering this would be like undiscovering that atoms were made out of nucleons and electrons.

It's in this sense that I say that the observed universe would have to be a lie."

here I believe he's making a mistake/displaying a bias; the math-of Quantum Mechanics in this particular instance- does not determine physical reality, rather it describes it to some degree or other.

to suggest that the mathematics of quantum mechanics is the end of the road is too strong a claim IMO.

Comment by h-h on Open Thread, August 2010 · 2010-09-05T07:44:10.223Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

numbers are quite useful, so we don't/shouldn't do away with them, but the math is never a complete substitute for the observable universe.

writing down '20 sheep' doesn't physically equal 20 sheep, rather it's a method we use for simplicity. as it stands, no two sheep are alike to every last detail as far as anyone can tell, yet we still have a category called 'sheep'. this is so given the observed recurrence of 'sheep' like entities, similar enough for us to categorize them for practicality's sake, but that doesn't mean they're physically all alike to every detail.

it could be argued that sometimes the math does equate with reality, as in 'Oxygen atom' is a category consisting of entirely similar things, but even that is not confirmed, simply an assertion; no human has observed all 'Oxygen atoms' in existence to be similar in every detail, or even in some arbitrarily 'essential' detail/s. yet it is enough for the purposes of science to consider them all similar, and so we go with it,otherwise we'd never have coherent thought let alone science.

it might very well be that all Oxygen atoms in existence are physically the same in some ways, but we have no way of actually knowing. this doesn't mean that there are 'individual atoms', but it doesn't negate it either.

ETA: as pengvado said in below post, replace 'atom' with 'particle'.

Comment by h-h on Open Thread, August 2010 · 2010-09-04T04:33:01.581Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

thanks, that's actually what I wanted to know.

Comment by h-h on Open Thread, August 2010 · 2010-09-04T04:30:43.217Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

a belated reply:

now, as a generality your first statement is correct, but after searching for some years I've concluded the easiest method is in fact mild support for a partisan anti war website, reason being; on average wars are more destructive than no-wars, and definitely inductive of irrationality.

a note about the particular partisan site, it's not a single source by any means-I believe this is the cause of contention?- it's actually an aggregation of 'anti war' news from multiple sources including mainstream channels and others. as such the 'single source' label is negated.

second statement: yes, science and politics are connected, but I believe this misses the point, in the domain of national policy, the more hawkish elements have been in control for quite a while now, pitting the US against third world destitute farmers and shepherds. that's not exactly a rational path, and so, as much as we should support stem cell research for eg. that wasn't the angle I was coming from.

third; answered, see above.

fourth; it does as an issue to be concerned with, but surely not in context of the discussion? strategic theorizing on possible crypto use by say an afghan warlord concerned for his poppy production is quite a marginal concern compared to the US government launching wars that cost trillions and benefit humanity little to nothing while increasing likelihood of retaliation etc.

Comment by h-h on Open Thread, August 2010 · 2010-09-04T04:02:07.462Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

true, but there are no 'negative sheep', only numbers arbitrarily representing them.

Comment by h-h on Open Thread, August 2010 · 2010-08-26T04:31:48.318Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

agreed, it's not like scientific analysis requires the laws of physics to have no quantum randomness source etc, rather it is satisfied with finding the logical necessities between what is used to describe the observable universe.