Comment by iDante on November 2013 Media Thread · 2013-11-02T03:21:44.700Z · LW · GW

This is really great, thanks :D

Comment by iDante on November 2013 Media Thread · 2013-11-02T00:38:40.656Z · LW · GW

Previously people recommended me Evpatoria Report based on my liking for Explosions in the Sky, Godspeed You!, and World's End Girlfriend. Any more excellent post-rock I ought to hear?

Totally unrelated: I really like metal. Here (Album art NSFW) are some of my favorites. More?

Comment by iDante on November 2013 Media Thread · 2013-11-02T00:27:44.488Z · LW · GW

I've been reading this awesome web serial called Worm. Highly recommend if you want some action and suspense. There's a bit of rationality business in there as well, but it's spaced out and the story is long. I see it's been recommended previously on here as well.

Comment by iDante on Open Thread, October 13 - 19, 2013 · 2013-10-14T19:32:39.273Z · LW · GW

If you like Haskell's type system I highly recommend learning category theory. This book does a good job. Category theory is pretty abstract, even for pure math. I love it.

Comment by iDante on October 2013 Media Thread · 2013-10-03T16:40:32.284Z · LW · GW

Has anyone read The Reason I Jump? Was it good?

Comment by iDante on AI ebook cover design brainstorming · 2013-09-27T03:07:37.323Z · LW · GW

A shot of an abandoned chess board with the king toppled (optional: and a robot hand shaking with a human).


A chess board with one grain of rice on the corner, two next to it, then four, (...) until the board and surrounding world is rice.

I'd go for chess or similar since people already associate chess with "computers are better than humans at this game of smarts." Still, it's cliched so maybe you want something less so. As for the examples, 1 will look really campy, 2 is uninteresting, 3 is okay, and 4 is good.

Comment by iDante on AI-related honours projects? · 2013-09-20T05:21:02.254Z · LW · GW

Just to confirm, it's undergraduate CSE honors? Have you taken an AI course?

My initial impression is that you'll have trouble doing something specifically related to FAI, but it depends on your background.

Comment by iDante on College courses versus LessWrong · 2013-09-16T01:20:14.131Z · LW · GW

External motivation is a huge part. Part of it is just the fact that my entire job right now is to learn physics and impress professors. Much of my learning happens in class, but much of it also happens in the labs that I work and from the grad students that I bother. Another overlooked advantage is the enormous group of peers who are learning the exact same material as me at the same time as me. Physics forums doesn't even come close to this utility. (edit edit: ##physics on freenode is pretty good source too)

This all combined is well worth the price tag to me. For others it may not be; I'm just one data point after all ;)

edit: lots of people don't take advantage of their university of course, but they tend to be the sort on the bottom end, not the top, which is who I think you're addressing.

Comment by iDante on Large introductory science classes · 2013-09-15T10:00:32.052Z · LW · GW

I took intro physics and math courses 2 years ago and intro CSE 1 year ago at a large American public school.

The physics classes are easy. I mean, really easy. You don't need instructor interaction or TA help to perfect every test in intro physics courses. It's the same for intro calculus, with the caveat that you need to be good at algebra or quick with a TI-89 to perfect calc. I had a lot of fun in physics, and I had a great professor who effectively used clickers by passing around a sheet with big numbers printed on it. He'd ask us a multiple-choice question and we'd fold/display our answer.

CSE was a little different, since there's homework to be done and it was harder to get a 4.0. This one will vary from school to school more than physics I think.

Comment by iDante on College courses versus LessWrong · 2013-09-15T03:11:33.135Z · LW · GW

I've learned more about physics from school than I would have learned on my own, and I think your comment is pessimistic. University has advantages over the internet, even if your goal is simply to learn material.

Comment by iDante on Please share your reading habits/techniques/strategies · 2013-09-13T19:13:16.806Z · LW · GW

How to Read a Book has a large section on reading nonfiction.

I read physics textbooks all the time, as well as some math. Right now I'm working through Group Theory and Physics. The best advice I have to give is to pick the right textbooks. I have it easy since I can just ask professors what books to read. I tend to read them very slowly (3-4 months for a good sized book) but I'm a busy person. I take notes by hand.

Comment by iDante on Types of recursion · 2013-09-04T23:40:34.927Z · LW · GW

The first is head recursive. If it were written in opposite order (in NY, on the street, at the house, the car ...) it would be tail recursive and would be very easy to parse. Once we've found NY we can forget that we're there and reuse our stack space to find the street, etc. I think this is why it's so much easier than the second, which is neither head nor tail recursive and so requires a stack frame for each level.

Comment by iDante on Open thread, September 2-8, 2013 · 2013-09-02T18:31:49.409Z · LW · GW

I learned about Egan's Law, and I'm pretty sure it's a less-precise restatement of the correspondence principle. Anyone have any thoughts on that similarity?

Comment by iDante on September 2013 Media Thread · 2013-09-02T04:18:53.101Z · LW · GW

Agreed. Uvf fhcrecbjref tebj nybat jvgu uvf gvgyrf.

Comment by iDante on Rationality Quotes September 2013 · 2013-09-02T03:08:53.824Z · LW · GW

At which point, Polly decided that she knew enough of the truth to be going on with. The enemy wasn't men, or women, or the old, or even the dead. It was just bleedin' stupid people, who came in all varieties. And no one had the right to be stupid.

  • Terry Pratchett, Monstrous Regiment
Comment by iDante on September 2013 Media Thread · 2013-09-01T16:21:47.572Z · LW · GW

Read the City Watch series and I highly recommend.

Comment by iDante on Rationality Quotes August 2013 · 2013-08-10T22:10:52.299Z · LW · GW

To the layman, the philosopher, or the classical physicist, a statement of the form "this particle doesn't have a well-defined position" (or momentum, or x-component of spin angular momentum, or whatever) sounds vague, incompetent, or (worst of all) profound. It is none of these. But its precise meaning is, I think, almost impossible to convey to anyone who has not studied quantum mechanics in some depth.

Comment by iDante on "Stupid" questions thread · 2013-07-13T06:18:31.956Z · LW · GW

no population cap

Comment by iDante on Fractals and time management · 2013-06-28T15:30:20.044Z · LW · GW

No, it doesn't. While the current structure of mathematics curricula might not be ideal, the solution won't be found by the means outlined in this post.

It is clear that spaced repetition makes learning material much easier. Start there.

Comment by iDante on Applied art of rationality: Richard Feynman steelmanning his mother's concerns · 2013-06-04T20:05:31.066Z · LW · GW

I would've liked to see the letter that he's responding to.

Comment by iDante on Who thinks quantum computing will be necessary for AI? · 2013-05-29T01:06:09.049Z · LW · GW

There will be AI long before there are quantum computers.

Comment by iDante on 10-Step Anti-Procrastination Checklist · 2013-05-17T03:54:56.461Z · LW · GW

Yeah, before I do any work I always make sure to focus on one thing at a time, then get some tea, shut the door, quit Tweetdeck, close the Facebook and Gmail tabs, set Skype to "Do not disturb," put on a video game soundtrack. Then I trace out the value until I feel the benefit (mmm), break things down until they're physical actions, have fun (!), contemplate smiling, throwing my arms up in the air, proclaiming victory, enjoying M&Ms, set goals, set a timer, and then start working.

lol you crazy man. Just do your work.

Comment by iDante on May 2013 Media Thread · 2013-05-06T03:03:37.036Z · LW · GW

You're the second person to recommend me them so I finally listened to their music and yep. It's good.


Comment by iDante on May 2013 Media Thread · 2013-05-01T17:07:23.719Z · LW · GW

I've been on a post-rock binge. My favorite bands along this line are Godspeed You! Black Emperor, World's End Girlfriend, and, of course, Explosions in the Sky. I don't expect this music appeals to everyone though.

Comment by iDante on Litany of a Bright Dilettante · 2013-04-18T05:28:10.877Z · LW · GW

We must test our own ideas and arguments. Just because we don't know how to do so doesn't make our ideas any better, but it can make them seem better to the careless.

It's part of why I don't post very often on this site. Even though I know more QM than most people here, I know I don't know enough to argue the validity of the sequence.

Comment by iDante on Time turners, Energy Conservation and General Relativity · 2013-04-17T00:29:39.069Z · LW · GW

An aside for those curious about the Gauss Law argument. The law in its integral form states that the flux of the gravitational field inward through any closed surface encompassing the Sun is proportional to the Sun's mass.

As long as the mass distribution is spherically symmetric the gravity outside of the sun is the same as if the mass was all located at the center. It's the same for electrostatic force since that goes like 1/r^2 too :D.

Oh, that's what the gravity from a hollow sphere all adds/multiplies out to? Uniform zero (net) gravity inside, normal outside the sphere? Neat.


Comment by iDante on Thoughts On The Relationship Between Life and Intelligence · 2013-03-15T04:16:49.967Z · LW · GW

Sorry for the terse comment, it's finals week soon so things are busy around sweet apple acres.

Essentially what you've done is take the mysterious problem of intelligence and shoved it under a new ill-defined name (living). Pretty much any programmer can write a self-replicating program, or a program that modifies its own source code, or other such things. But putting it as simply as that doesn't actually bring you any closer to actually making AI. You have to explain exactly how the program should modify itself in order to make progress.

Mysterious answers will make this clear. A Human's Guide to Words will maybe show you what's wrong with using "living" like that. EY gave a presentation in which he noted that all the intelligence in the universe that we know of has so far been formed by evolution, and it took a long time. AI will be the first designed intelligence and it'll go much quicker. You seem to base your entire argument on evolution though, which seems unnecessary.

Also, be careful with your wording in phrases like "computers don't have intrinsic goals so they aren't alive." As other peoples mentioned, this is dangerous territory. Be sure to follow a map. Cough cough.

Comment by iDante on Thoughts On The Relationship Between Life and Intelligence · 2013-03-14T17:35:54.006Z · LW · GW

Try reading the sequences all the way through. You'll find that you make a lot of common assumptions and mistakes that make the argument weaker than you'd like.

Comment by iDante on Young Cryonicist Gathering Warning · 2013-03-11T16:33:45.472Z · LW · GW

The lady who runs this is quite literally, nuts.

I do not think this means what you think it means, but thanks for the funny image anyway.

Comment by iDante on A Quick and Dirty Survey: Textbook Learning · 2013-03-10T22:29:09.977Z · LW · GW

Hey I can input! I'm also a physics undergrad. Math textbooks are always tough. Go talk to a math professor and see if they recommend one for you. This is good because they know about where your knowledge level is and can suggest an appropriate book, plus you can come to them with questions. I do the same for physics textbooks too.

Do all the exercises, it should take a long time. I've done ~3/4 of the exercises in Griffiths E&M in the last four months, and that's a reasonable pace.

Comment by iDante on Rationality Quotes March 2013 · 2013-03-06T00:00:38.982Z · LW · GW

Let us, then, avoid the philosophical minefields of belief and truth, and pay attention to what we really need, which is predictive ability.

From a great book

Comment by iDante on Frequentist Statistics are Frequently Subjective · 2013-03-05T23:57:19.858Z · LW · GW

This book has done a lot to help astronomy out, but much of the field is still lost in bad statistics. I ran some papers by a statistician and he agreed with me, the authors had no idea what they were doing and neither did their referees.

But it's getting better.

Comment by iDante on Exponent of Desire · 2013-02-28T03:27:57.972Z · LW · GW

Of course! That could make things a lot easier.

Comment by iDante on Exponent of Desire · 2013-02-26T20:43:05.946Z · LW · GW

I spent a long time trying to come up with some explanation that would come up with sin(w)s. There was even gonna be a pun (it's a sin to have such convoluted desires).

But I failed.

Comment by iDante on What are your rules of thumb? · 2013-02-16T05:51:38.091Z · LW · GW

I don't think there is one. At least not mathematically, which is where I do all these checks anyway. Solving PDEs ho!

Comment by iDante on What are your rules of thumb? · 2013-02-15T17:28:33.177Z · LW · GW

Check boundary cases. Check extreme cases. Check trivial cases.

Comment by iDante on What are you working on? February 2013 · 2013-02-06T01:23:46.097Z · LW · GW

Previously on Battlestar Galactica. I found out that everyone else in the galaxy cluster biz was doing linear regression all wrong, so I had to write up how to do it correctly and then apply my method to some new data. I wrote the paper and it'll be submitted soon. In other news, JAGS is really neat.

Now I'm applying for summer research gigs.

Comment by iDante on My simple hack for increased alertness and improved cognitive functioning: very bright light · 2013-01-26T23:42:14.874Z · LW · GW

Yep yep. It's just not quite as strong as a blind study, but that's fine for these purposes.

Comment by iDante on Infinitesimals: Another argument against actual infinite sets · 2013-01-26T07:27:42.741Z · LW · GW

This reads like really bad armchair philosophy. You make a bunch of statements about infinities and infinitesimals without any regards for what this actually means, experience wise. Then you bring up Zeno's paradox, which may have been intriguing in the 5th century BCE but was solved nicely by classical physics. You blindly thrash about in math land with no regard for rigor, then conclude with a statement that again has no relation to actual experience.

I'm bad at expressing myself through writing, but this post is really bad.

Comment by iDante on How confident are you in the Atomic Theory of Matter? · 2013-01-20T01:16:02.715Z · LW · GW

Oh. That one is so close to 1 that there's no use even discussing it anymore.

Comment by iDante on How confident are you in the Atomic Theory of Matter? · 2013-01-19T22:23:50.452Z · LW · GW

I'm a little confused by this question. In my experience, atomic theory always refers to atoms. I think you're really asking whether quarks and such are divisible. I'm confident that there is no substructure to elementary particles, but I won't give a number.

Comment by iDante on My simple hack for increased alertness and improved cognitive functioning: very bright light · 2013-01-19T02:25:47.006Z · LW · GW

What's the point of randomization if you can easily tell the difference between a bright bulb and a dim one?

Comment by iDante on [deleted post] 2012-12-25T05:30:35.540Z

Case: person who organized mass murder was put under trial by an outside group and executed.

Yet I hold that it was entirely ethically correct and proper.

Henry Kissinger organized mass murder.

The implication is there

Comment by iDante on Train Philosophers with Pearl and Kahneman, not Plato and Kant · 2012-12-06T20:04:24.647Z · LW · GW

For what its worth, I'm a physics/cs major and I wish I'd seen this article two years ago so I wouldn't have wasted my credits on two philosophy classes.

Comment by iDante on What science needs · 2012-12-03T18:58:18.164Z · LW · GW

No, because the claim on the front page is backed up by evidence. It's not just pulled out of one person's limited experiences. It IS offensive to negatively stereotype a group of people without evidence.

The author's great "problems" of science are the same way. A broad generalization is made from limited experience, then no actual investigation is performed. Bold assertions are provided in place of careful statistics. The conclusion, "the biggest problem in science is management," is utterly unconvincing.

Comment by iDante on What science needs · 2012-12-03T00:32:43.631Z · LW · GW

I should have said "That's offensive and untrue, and the rest of the post comes off similarly."

Comment by iDante on What science needs · 2012-12-03T00:14:39.937Z · LW · GW

What I've learned after years in the field is that what most scientists really want to do is prove how smart they are

What I've learned after years of being a decent human being is that most scientists are regular people who don't appreciate being insulted. I'm a scientist, my parents are scientists, my best friends, my teachers, my sister, my uncle, aunt, and two cousins are scientists.

what most scientists really want to do is prove how smart they are

That's offensive, and the rest of the post comes off similarly.

In response to fubarobfusco: there is a major difference between "fuck you!" and "I've been personally offended by you. Here's why."

Comment by iDante on What science needs · 2012-12-02T23:04:26.321Z · LW · GW

The author hasn't posed any scientific problems. Instead, they have made sweeping generalizations based off of their bad experiences in one field.

This referee cannot recommend the article for publication.

Comment by iDante on December 2012 Media Thread · 2012-12-02T07:17:02.007Z · LW · GW

It covers very similar material as the first two parts of Russell's A History of Western Philosophy, since for a long time there was little distinction between philosophy and natural philosophy. I've only read parts of Russell's book but Lindberg does a better job.

We also read Mott Greene's Natural Knowledge in Preclassical Antiquity, which was also excellent but much more specialized. I found its discussion of Hesiod's volcanos fascinating.

The rest of the books focused on later stuffsies.

Comment by iDante on December 2012 Media Thread · 2012-12-01T21:13:34.161Z · LW · GW

I read The Beginnings of Western Science for a class. It's excellent and I recommend it to anyone interested in the history of science.