Comment by james_blair on Open thread, Dec. 19 - Dec. 25, 2016 · 2016-12-25T22:06:16.606Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Delete button

Comment by james_blair on Open thread, Nov. 7 - Nov. 13, 2016 · 2016-11-10T18:17:59.907Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

As I'm waiting to watch the Trump Obama meeting, I'm changing my mind to elaborate. I've never really been an active participator in the LW community and if I'm going to distance myself further so be it. As an example, compare this to this and this. If Eliezer actually believed that politics is the mind killer and had any interest in intellectual honesty, he would admit he was hoodwinked by that live action roleplay game of his. He won't, hence my disgust.

Comment by james_blair on Open thread, Nov. 7 - Nov. 13, 2016 · 2016-11-09T19:22:16.527Z · score: 2 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I fully agree with this.

edit: someone may think this comment doesn't contribute at all. the someone that did also took the additional step of downvoting the OP, so make of that what you will.

Comment by james_blair on Lesswrong 2016 Survey · 2016-03-28T00:19:35.372Z · score: 33 (33 votes) · LW · GW

I have taken the survey.

Comment by james_blair on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 13, chapter 81 · 2015-03-08T08:25:43.859Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

So, after what happened.. turns out I was both wrong and right.

If a viable solution is posted before 12:01AM Pacific Time (8:01AM UTC) on Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015, the story will continue to Ch. 121.

Otherwise you will get a shorter and sadder ending.

So failure would have just meant the end, and yet there was nothing to worry about: the much larger audience managed to figure out a space of much more effective solutions, along with a much more hilarious space of failures.

Comment by james_blair on An attempt at a short no-prerequisite test for programming inclination · 2013-06-30T01:44:28.417Z · score: 12 (12 votes) · LW · GW

The trick is to evaluate right to left.

Comment by james_blair on Prisoner's Dilemma (with visible source code) Tournament · 2013-06-06T01:46:00.250Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

single Scheme lambda

What scaffolding are you going to use for the tests? (For example: #!racket seems to be implied. I'd like to be sure of all of your details.)

Comment by james_blair on [SEQ RERUN] Changing Emotions · 2013-01-23T21:38:09.233Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW


Comment by james_blair on Is Omega Impossible? Can we even ask? · 2012-10-26T00:41:14.615Z · score: -2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Is Omega Impossible?

No, Omega is possible. I have implemented Newcomb's Game as a demonstration. This is not a probabilistic simulation, this omega is never wrong.

It's really very obvious if you think about it like a game designer. To the obvious objection: Would a more sophisticated Omega be any different in practice?

For my next trick, I shall have an omnipotent being create an immovable object and then move it.

edit: sorry about the bugs. it's rather embarrassing, i have not used these libraries in ages.

Comment by james_blair on April Fools - Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality Joke Chapter · 2012-04-02T04:14:41.905Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW
Comment by james_blair on April Fools - Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality Joke Chapter · 2012-04-02T03:13:01.059Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I think it is bad taste to cynl cenaxf jura gur fvgr'f pybpx qbrf abg fnl gung vg vf gur svefg bs ncevy. Vg'f onq rabhtu yvivat va tzg cyhf gjryir.

Comment by james_blair on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 13, chapter 81 · 2012-03-31T01:19:17.329Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yes. The exact phrasing of the challenge was:

With a sudden motion, the Confessor's arm swept out...

  1. ... and anesthetized the Lord Pilot.

  2. ... [This option will become the True Ending only if someone suggests it in the comments before the previous ending is posted tomorrow. Otherwise, the first ending is the True one.]

Comment by james_blair on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 13, chapter 81 · 2012-03-30T17:40:33.107Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Is there anyone keeping a history of the story? I suspect there are some clues to be gleamed from the edits.

(Note: I originally specifically asked for what was chapter 76 but now 77, but I realized that the thing I was looking for was there all along. Regardless I am still interested in a history.)

Comment by james_blair on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 13, chapter 81 · 2012-03-30T17:31:28.439Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

There's nothing to worry about. We were presented with the same challenge in Three Worlds Collide. If we don't succeed, we will just get a false ending instead of a true ending.

Comment by james_blair on Open Thread, February 1-14, 2012 · 2012-02-01T05:59:47.464Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

You can find it in chapter 63:

I will say this much, Mr. Potter: You are already an Occlumens, and I think you will become a perfect Occlumens before long. Identity does not mean, to such as us, what it means to other people. Anyone we can imagine, we can be; and the true difference about you, Mr. Potter, is that you have an unusually good imagination. A playwright must contain his characters, he must be larger than them in order to enact them within his mind. To an actor or spy or politician, the limit of his own diameter is the limit of who he can pretend to be, the limit of which face he may wear as a mask. But for such as you and I, anyone we can imagine, we can be, in reality and not pretense. While you imagined yourself a child, Mr. Potter, you were a child. Yet there are other existences you could support, larger existences, if you wished. Why are you so free, and so great in your circumference, when other children your age are small and constrained? Why can you imagine and become selves more adult than a mere child of a playwright should be able to compose? That I do not know, and I must not say what I guess. But what you have, Mr. Potter, is freedom.

Comment by james_blair on HPMOR: What could've been done better? · 2012-01-30T03:06:38.690Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The one time I tried this, it backfired terribly. It seemed like a logical sale, but the war games don't start until quite a fair way in; meanwhile, the first ten chapters (which is what the first chapter recommends trying before giving up) don't have that sort of flavour.

Comment by james_blair on Roger Williams (Author of Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect) on Singularity · 2012-01-06T15:31:53.838Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW
  • Ungrowth wasn't talked about in the novels. I remember the opposite complaint: that the overly strict implementation of the Three Laws turned humanity into kittens, with the wireheads at the extreme. Ungrowth sounds almost as bad as Peer's arbitrary obsessions in Permutation City.
  • Holding all other implementation details equal, Lawrence's insistence that PI not look into people's brains results in a much better world than not. I get the impression that Roger thinks his genie could have handled people better if it analyzed them that deeply.
  • The critique of the Three Laws as portrayed should have focused not on how limited it is, but on how restrictive it is. A premise Roger disagrees with when saying that Lawrence did not install a more robust ethical system when his design allowed for it. The star map above Lawrence's house gave us a glimpse of the design that made it clear how he messed up his design not just in creating a thoughtless genie, but in not allowing corrections as the everything the AI believed was not only interdependent but centered on those three pillars.

Edit: There were more words here, but your later emphasis confuses me. I'm going to pretend you didn't do that. If I'm not being clear here, please help me help me help you.

Comment by james_blair on Roger Williams (Author of Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect) on Singularity · 2012-01-06T13:20:15.928Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think this essay drifts considerably further away from SIAI/LW thinking than his story does, though I might have forgotten things.

Actually, given a moment to reflect, I'm more confusing the essay's points and my own impressions of the story. If he thought like this while writing the novel, then he spectacularly failed to reach me. For that I'm glad.

Comment by james_blair on Selfish reasons for FAI · 2011-12-17T23:37:39.998Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Rather than unfriendly AI, I think he means a Friendly AI that's only Friendly to one person (or very few people). If we're going to be talking about this concept then we need a better term for it. My inner nerd prefers Suzumiya AI.

Comment by james_blair on Q&A #2 with Singularity Institute Executive Director · 2011-12-13T08:35:25.960Z · score: 16 (16 votes) · LW · GW

Would the Institute consider hiring telecommuters (both in and out the US)?

Update: this question was left unanswered in the second Q&A.

Comment by james_blair on [LINK] How a Computer Game is Reinventing the Science of Expertise · 2011-12-06T21:18:15.959Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I wonder whether or not there might be a prime example of the game of general expertise par excellence out there, one that touches on many domains simultaneously...

Probably not. While in video game design there are general competencies you can rely on, there are both mutually exclusive challenges: fast paced FPS games like Quake 3 cannot be played like slower paced FPS games like Call of Duty, players who attempt to transfer their skills without understanding this don't succeed; and balance problems, where the addition of game elements overshadow others like in Alien Swarm where there are five effective weapons even though there are fifteen other options and some of them are dismissed unfairly because they are introduced to players who haven't seen a need for the skills they ask. Both of these factors, however, mean that challenges and tradeoffs go hand in hand in your game's design.

That all said, people do try. Spore is the readiest example of this to me: the mishmash of different games doesn't really work, the way they tried to address the challenge balancing issues means that four fifths of the game design is effectively useless, but it's an instructive game nonetheless.

Comment by james_blair on [SEQ RERUN] Guardians of Ayn Rand · 2011-11-28T02:01:19.705Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

This is particularly interesting in light of how 1 and 0 "work" within a bayesian context.

Comment by james_blair on Righting a Wrong Question · 2011-11-09T01:41:53.460Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Linkrot corrected. Thanks for the catch.

Historical notes: Eliezer disapproves of this reference; the original comment was posted on Overcoming Bias, which didn't allow nested replies, Frank Hirsch had some comments as well [1] [2].

Comment by james_blair on Myers-Briggs / MLPTI personality-type conversion chart · 2011-11-01T23:58:45.301Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

INTPs seem to match "conscientious, introverted, self-conscious" and no other group of traits. This would file them under TS along with INTJs under the old system.

I still don't know what that means, though.

Comment by james_blair on Myers-Briggs / MLPTI personality-type conversion chart · 2011-11-01T22:57:07.026Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

What does MLPTI stand for? It's hard to look up without knowing that much.

Comment by james_blair on HPMoR: What do you think you know? · 2011-10-24T20:58:38.256Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

He drew attention to the wand after Hermione committed herself to going to the cage. Maybe he didn't have to, but that's the sort of cleverness I expect from him. It tricked you, after all.

Why do people keep assuming Quirrell thinks of Harry as an enemy?

I can't speak for people, but Harry is Voldemort's enemy in canon. Until I see some extraordinary evidence to the contrary, I'm going to assume that hasn't changed.

Comment by james_blair on HPMoR: What do you think you know? · 2011-10-24T19:44:08.035Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

If we take Hermione at face value on Ch43, he has tried to kill Harry by feeding him to a dementor. Although given the failures his more certain methods have had, it's a big leap to assume that he hasn't thought of taking Harry someplace isolated and setting a blowtorch on him. Extra points for a long torturous death.

Comment by james_blair on What are you working on? · 2011-10-07T02:53:22.962Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Like a reference counter, it doesn't need to run collection cycles as it knows exactly when memory can be freed. Despite this, it handles circular structures just fine.

Apart from that, there's nothing special about it. The idea was absurdly low hanging fruit and that aspect might make it good LW post material. Assuming that it works as well as I think it does.

Comment by james_blair on What are you working on? · 2011-10-06T22:35:05.782Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

A programming language that has the semantics necessary to elegantly express a new kind of garbage collector. A rudimentary prototype of the collector, written in C++ with a terrible interface, appeared to confirm the idea.

At least, that was the initial goal. The more I investigate the design choices involved in programming languages, the more room for improvement I see.

Comment by james_blair on Who owns LessWrong? · 2011-09-30T03:55:05.563Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

And in light of Eliezer's response, perhaps find someone he is willing to debate on the topic.

Comment by james_blair on Free research help, editing and article downloads for LessWrong · 2011-09-08T20:30:48.160Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Let people make appointments. Everyone involved would agree to meet somewhere online and depending on exactly what was needed: have a conversation or use a session sharing tool for some collaborative work.

Comment by james_blair on Free research help, editing and article downloads for LessWrong · 2011-09-07T01:56:32.777Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

This sounds like a good idea, thanks for committing the time for it! On reading I had two thoughts:

  • While I'm assuming that you're willing to try helping with anything, people with more technical problems will appreciate a summary of what skills you can provide in particular.
  • I'm also wondering if there is demand for this in a format more like HN office hours.
Comment by james_blair on Attention Lurkers: Please say hi · 2010-04-17T05:16:50.458Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW


edit: I suspect LW has fewer lurkers than average. Speaking as a lurker, the conversations here are not easy to follow (this is more the structure rather than content, but sometimes the content gets pretty esoteric). I've limited my participation to reading top level posts of interest, and the comments if the article is sufficiently fresh.

Comment by james_blair on Three Worlds Decide (5/8) · 2009-02-03T10:47:24.000Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Anonymous Coward's defection isn't. A real defection would be the Confessor anesthetizing Akon, then commandeering the ship to chase the Super Happies and nova their star.

Comment by james_blair on War and/or Peace (2/8) · 2009-02-01T08:08:55.000Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not cool with it but I just can't connect with it.

That said, maybe the Babyeaters need to eat the human's children to show them how Good it really is. If that fails to convince them, it's clobbering time.

Comment by james_blair on Building Weirdtopia · 2009-01-13T01:47:20.000Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Economic... Weirdtopia: The world has an indirect economy. People trade status for predictive power to decide which ventures get the most attention and which resources to allocate to whom/what. Businesses are considered a weird anachronism of a begone era. People are free to do whatever they want with their status, except trade real property. (They can, however, use it to make the market grant favours if they want.) Life's necessities are always freely accessible.

Governmental... Weirdtopia: Every conflict is resolved either by consensus or moving away. There are even seed spaceships moving far away from Sol for the latter option. Non-violence isn't the rule, it's the law. Every intelligence agreed to remove violent urges. Non-violence has an extremely broad definition that not only covers force, but also deception, market manipulation, even advertising, bad manners and ostracism. Honesty is not expected, it just is; the only way people find out what the word means is through history classes.

Comment by james_blair on Disappointment in the Future · 2008-12-01T06:35:31.000Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I looked at the list and thought it strange. As you said, some items have more details than others. Why? Did Ray see stronger reasons for less likely predictions, to put them on par with the vaguer ones? What role does his Law of Accelerating Returns play in this? As the more detailed claims are more wrong than the vague ones, has he become more skeptical of his ability to make predictions using his rationale?

I also agree that (this sort of) futurism isn't about prediction. Many of the claims aren't useful. Worse still, not only are some of the predictions are vague but some are difficult to interpret specifically in ways that introduce bias. For example: what is a "growing" Luddite movement? Is (2007AD, 5,000ppl) -> (2008AD, 10,000ppl) growing? Is "dramatically lighter and thinner" meant to be wearable computing (which seems to be implied from the theme of the other predictions), netbooks (which actually exist, and seem to be the default assumption of people looking at it today) or something else entirely?

Comment by james_blair on Which Parts Are "Me"? · 2008-10-23T01:39:01.000Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I had crossed when I was much younger, without realizing what I'd done or the consequences. I wish I was informed, but it's too late now. I guess I committed myself to this path, I might as well see where it leads.

Eliezer: If there is more than one rubicon to cross, is it possible to skip one? Does the question make any sense?

Robin: What coalitions should I expect to see? Who's in charge of Robin Hanson right now?

Jef: Give me exactly one reason why I should listen to you. Ignore his current inability in FAI: nothing you've said has convinced me that he is making a mistake that matters. If the mistake is that big, I can discover the ramifications for myself after I know what's going on.

Comment by james_blair on Grasping Slippery Things · 2008-06-17T07:21:56.000Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Typepad splits lots of comments over pages, for me. Try going to the second page.

Comment by james_blair on Righting a Wrong Question · 2008-03-10T09:00:04.000Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Frank, what does that have to do with the quality of the paper I linked?

Comment by james_blair on Righting a Wrong Question · 2008-03-09T18:36:42.000Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

And I know you didn't simply leave out an explanation that exists somewhere, because such understanding would probably mean a solution for the captcha problem.
Dileep, George, and Hawkins, Jeff. 2005. "A Hierarchical Bayesian Model of Invariant Pattern Recognition in the Visual Cortex." available from citeseer (direct download pdf) (Accessed November 9, 2011).

Comment by james_blair on The Amazing Virgin Pregnancy · 2007-12-25T13:30:43.000Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The post is not meant to educate, it is meant to offend.
It wasn't meant to educate as it's filed under humour (or a word spelled somewhat similarly). Don't forget--especially during the festive season--the possibility of alternate explanations, you might not share his sense of humour?

Comment by james_blair on A Priori · 2007-10-10T09:31:41.000Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW
But if you're going to start talking about identity, then you need to do some real philosophy.

What's the difference between the brain giving rise to a mind by the laws of nature and the brain giving rise to a mind without identity by the laws of nature?

Comment by james_blair on The Lens That Sees Its Flaws · 2007-09-26T03:49:56.000Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW
Faith, hope and love are the Christian theological virtues.

What about other religions? Islam and Judaism come to mind, but there are also non-abrahamic religions that advocate faith, hope and love. Why is are you exclusively a Christian and not a Muslim, a Jew, a Buddhist or a Pagan? Why are you a Catholic instead of a Protestant? If you were born in China in the early 20th century, would you be a Catholic? If so, why? If not, why are you a Catholic here and now?

Comment by james_blair on Planning Fallacy · 2007-09-17T19:35:14.000Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I notice in the 1994 study, the students were directly asked for their forecasts. Do any of the studies try to get students to write down their forecasts on an envelope to be opened after they have finished their project, to try to avoid any possible social pressure?

Comment by james_blair on The Crackpot Offer · 2007-09-10T05:52:30.000Z · score: 6 (5 votes) · LW · GW

As I'm not much of a contributor, you can take my suggestion with a grain of salt but: Why not file away all deleted non-spam comments to a place where they can be read, but are out of the way? That way, moderators don't have to worry so much about censoring people and can instead focus on keeping discussions civil/troll-free.

Comment by james_blair on Explain/Worship/Ignore? · 2007-09-03T04:25:48.000Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I will note that in this particular fable you do not distinguish between different approaches to the Explain option. Mythological and scientific explanations are produced by different methods and have different qualities. I would especially note that scientific explanations have the quality of being predictive where mythological ones are not.
It doesn't have to. You request enough explanations and you start getting answers that make sense as they probe for the shortcomings of the answers you were given. Thorough investigation was not always the norm.

Comment by james_blair on Two More Things to Unlearn from School · 2007-07-14T08:46:39.000Z · score: -2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Ambitious or not isn't a concern of mine. Instead I'm worrying about the students who will be filled with invaluable pieces of information--about formal logic, inductive reasoning, the practise of the scientific method, perhaps biases in cognition and then some statistics. While they're useful things to know, so is the nitrogen cycle, the causes of WW2, the iambic pentameter and trigonometry. None of these things are the void that we wish to emphasise in teaching.