Posts

Sam Harris and Scott Adams debate Trump: a model rationalist disagreement 2017-07-20T00:18:54.355Z
Interview on IQ, genes, and genetic engineering with expert (Hsu) 2017-05-28T22:19:23.489Z
LW mentioned in influential 2016 Milo article on the Alt-Right 2017-03-18T19:30:03.381Z
The Psychology of Human Misjudgment by Charles T. Munger 2017-03-01T01:34:46.388Z
Allegory On AI Risk, Game Theory, and Mithril 2017-02-13T20:41:50.584Z
Dan Carlin six hour podcast on history of atomic weapons 2017-02-09T16:10:17.253Z
Dodging a bullet: "the price of insufficient medical vigilance can be very high." 2017-01-18T04:11:30.734Z
Be someone – be recognized by the system and promoted – or do something 2017-01-15T21:22:53.371Z
Increase Your Child’s Working Memory 2016-11-27T21:57:12.930Z
Old urine samples from the 2008 and 2012 Olympics show massive cheating 2016-11-25T02:31:10.356Z
Synthetic supermicrobe will be resistant to all known viruses 2016-11-22T04:40:05.982Z
There are 125 sheep and 5 dogs in a flock. How old is the shepherd? / Math Education 2016-10-17T00:12:03.593Z
A Child's Petrov Day Speech 2016-09-28T02:27:38.521Z
[Link] My Interview with Dilbert creator Scott Adams 2016-09-13T05:22:47.741Z
Now is the time to eliminate mosquitoes 2016-08-06T19:10:16.968Z
Crazy Ideas Thread 2016-06-18T00:30:49.892Z
[Link] Mutual fund fees 2016-04-23T22:09:39.949Z
My new rationality/futurism podcast 2016-04-06T17:36:51.509Z
[Link] 10 Tips from CFAR: My Business Insider article 2015-12-10T02:09:29.208Z
[Link] My review of Rationality: From AI to Zombies 2015-08-12T16:16:12.461Z
[Link] Game Theory YouTube Videos 2015-08-06T16:17:44.998Z
Wear a Helmet While Driving a Car 2015-07-30T16:36:37.768Z
Parenting Technique: Increase Your Child’s Working Memory 2015-06-29T19:51:48.067Z
What are "the really good ideas" that Peter Thiel says are too dangerous to mention? 2015-04-12T21:07:40.663Z
Twenty basic rules for intelligent money management 2015-03-19T17:57:22.558Z
Link: LessWrong and AI risk mentioned in a Business Insider Article 2014-12-03T17:13:59.505Z
Article on confirmation bias for the Smith Alumnae Quarterly 2014-08-06T14:43:11.412Z
A simple game that has no solution 2014-07-20T18:36:54.636Z
Quickly passing through the great filter 2014-07-06T18:50:10.647Z
Link: Poking the Bear (Podcast) 2014-02-27T15:43:29.955Z
What rationality material should I teach in my game theory course 2014-01-14T02:15:53.470Z
Review of Scott Adams’ “How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big” 2013-12-23T20:48:12.469Z
Advice for a smart 8-year-old bored with school 2013-10-09T19:19:40.795Z
A World War I example showing the danger of deceiving your own side 2013-06-01T00:00:51.680Z
Map and territory visual presentation 2013-01-17T18:17:12.387Z
Modafinil now covered by insurance 2012-09-26T00:15:34.355Z
Mass-murdering neuroscience Ph.D. student 2012-07-20T17:02:52.624Z
Seeking Collaborator for a Singularity Comic Book 2011-12-05T16:20:23.838Z
Link: WJS article that uses Steve Jobs' death to mock cryonics and the Singularity 2011-10-08T02:56:58.381Z
Paid DC internship for autistics with technical skills who are recent college graduates 2011-09-27T21:51:14.669Z
Will DNA Analysis Make Politics Less of a Mind-Killer? 2011-08-18T00:03:06.366Z
What does lack of evidence of a causal relationship tell you? 2011-06-08T19:03:45.283Z
Are the Sciences Better Than the Social Sciences For Training Rationalists? 2011-05-31T17:45:52.368Z
Improving the college experience for students on the autism spectrum 2011-04-25T18:47:17.457Z
Overcoming the negative signal of not attending college. 2011-02-16T20:13:12.500Z
What would an ultra-intelligent machine make of the great filter? 2010-11-28T18:47:52.503Z
An Xtranormal Intelligence Explosion 2010-11-07T23:42:34.382Z
What hardcore singularity believers should consider doing 2010-10-27T20:26:04.499Z
Standing Desks and Hunter-Gatherers 2010-10-14T00:03:26.507Z
Cryonics Questions 2010-08-26T23:19:43.399Z

Comments

Comment by James_Miller on What's your visual experience when reading technical material? · 2021-06-05T21:34:35.297Z · LW · GW

I don't normally think about them, and if I needed to I would just find some image on the Internet.

Comment by James_Miller on Aphantasia · 2021-05-28T13:16:53.664Z · LW · GW

Although I have Aphantasia, standardized tests indicated that I have high reading comprehension.  I wonder if my Aphantasia contributes to my reading very quickly.  I read fast enough that when one of my students asks me to read a paper in office hours if I read at my normal speed I figure she will think I didn't actually read her paper.

Comment by James_Miller on What's your visual experience when reading technical material? · 2021-05-28T12:59:07.753Z · LW · GW

Based on reading the Reddit Aphantasia forum, some people with aphantasia can visualize when they dream, while others can't.  I have been actively trying to lucid dream for a while with a small amount of success although I have never tried WILD.  I will look into it.

Comment by James_Miller on What's your visual experience when reading technical material? · 2021-05-27T19:01:07.929Z · LW · GW

As I have Aphantasia I never visualize when not dreaming.  Before I learned about Aphantasia, I would have been amazed to learn that anyone visualizes while they read.  I  am curious to the extent that visualizing helps learning to see what kind of handicap I faced as a student.  I have a PhD in economics.

Comment by James_Miller on If individual performance is Pareto distributed, how should we reform education? · 2021-05-27T11:58:28.346Z · LW · GW

I do with my son.

Comment by James_Miller on List of good AI safety project ideas? · 2021-05-26T23:59:24.302Z · LW · GW

I co-authored a paper suggesting that we take advantage of AI's superhuman abilities in chess to create trustworthy and untrustworthy chess oracles to help develop strategies for dealing with possibly unfriendly oracles.  https://arxiv.org/abs/2010.02911

Comment by James_Miller on If individual performance is Pareto distributed, how should we reform education? · 2021-05-24T16:46:15.829Z · LW · GW

Providing one-on-one tutoring to highly intelligent children should be considered by the effective altruism community in part because many members of this community would themselves be qualified to be such tutors.

Comment by James_Miller on MIRI location optimization (and related topics) discussion · 2021-05-14T21:01:49.296Z · LW · GW

If you are considering New Hampshire, you should also look at Western Massachusetts.  Both offer the opportunity to drive to Boston, but without high city land prices.  Western Mass also has many colleges including University of Mass at Amherst.  Lyme disease, however, is a problem.

Comment by James_Miller on Covid 5/6: Vaccine Patent Suspension · 2021-05-07T00:04:19.781Z · LW · GW

Thanks, I had forgotten the joy kids experience from having snow days.

Comment by James_Miller on Covid 5/6: Vaccine Patent Suspension · 2021-05-06T22:12:44.003Z · LW · GW

I fear I might have lost my soul as I don't understand why NYC  having remote days instead of snow days is "evil".  Snow days are usually made up at the end of the school year, while I presume remote days will not be.  So why is it evil to extend summer vacation at the expense of having a few remote days?

Comment by James_Miller on AMA: Paul Christiano, alignment researcher · 2021-04-29T12:35:53.180Z · LW · GW

What would you advise a college student to do if the student is unusually good at math and wants to contribute to creating an aligned AGI?  Beyond a computer science major/multivariable calculus/linear algebra/statistics what courses should this student take? 

Comment by James_Miller on Better air is the easiest way not to die · 2021-04-28T15:48:17.061Z · LW · GW

Do you know of any air purifier that's effective and not noisy? 

Comment by James_Miller on Prophetic Hazard · 2021-04-16T12:51:55.789Z · LW · GW

My YouTube video about how a prophecy concerning Roman Emperor's Caracalla's assassination became self-fulfilling.

Comment by James_Miller on Unconvenient consequences of the logic behind the second law of thermodynamics · 2021-03-08T16:05:55.582Z · LW · GW

The prediction that the sun and stars we perceive will go out is absurd only because you are excluding the possibility that you are dreaming.  Because of what we label as dreams we frequently perceive things that quickly pop out of existence.

Comment by James_Miller on Extracting Money from Causal Decision Theorists · 2021-01-28T19:08:02.926Z · LW · GW

I'm confused since as a buyer if I believed the seller could predict with probability .75 I would flip a fair coin to decide which box to take meaning that the seller couldn't predict with probability .75.  If I can't randomize to pick a box I'm not sure how to fit in what you are doing to standard game theory (which I teach).

Comment by James_Miller on Appendices to cryonics signup sequence · 2021-01-24T01:59:44.192Z · LW · GW

"Over the past few years, some people have updated toward pretty short AGI timelines. If your timelines are really short, then maybe you shouldn't sign up for cryonics, because the singularity – good or bad – is overwhelmingly likely to happen before you biologically die"  

But such a scenario means there is less value in saving for retirement and this should make it financially easier for you to sign up for cryonics.  Also, the sooner we get friendly AGI, the sooner people in cryonics will be revived meaning there is a lower risk that your cryonics provider will fail before you can be revived.  

Comment by James_Miller on The Case for a Journal of AI Alignment · 2021-01-09T18:37:03.817Z · LW · GW

Strongly agree.  I would be happy to help.  Here are three academic AI alignment articles I have co-authored. https://arxiv.org/abs/2010.02911  https://arxiv.org/abs/1906.10536 https://arxiv.org/abs/2003.00812

Comment by James_Miller on Why the outside view suggests that longevity escape velocity is a long time away and cryonics is a much more feasible option for those alive today: signal-boosting a comment by Calm-Meet9916 on Reddit · 2021-01-09T01:29:44.386Z · LW · GW

While not captured by the outside view, I think the massive recent progress in machine learning should give us much hope of achieving LEV in 30 years.  

Comment by James_Miller on Covid 12/24: We’re F***ed, It’s Over · 2020-12-25T23:10:05.898Z · LW · GW

Yes, the more people infected with the virus, and the longer the virus is in people the more time for a successful mutation to arise.

Comment by James_Miller on Covid 12/24: We’re F***ed, It’s Over · 2020-12-25T15:06:45.405Z · LW · GW

I did a series of podcasts on COVID with Greg Cochran and Greg was right early on.  Greg has said from the beginning that the risk of a harmful mutation is reasonably high because the virus is new meaning there are likely lots of potential beneficial mutations (from the virus's viewpoint) that have not yet been found.

https://soundcloud.com/user-519115521

Comment by James_Miller on [Linkpost] AlphaFold: a solution to a 50-year-old grand challenge in biology · 2020-11-30T20:49:45.740Z · LW · GW

From an AI safety viewpoint, this might greatly increase AI funding and drive talent into the field and so advance when we get a general artificial superintelligence.

Comment by James_Miller on Snyder-Beattie, Sandberg, Drexler & Bonsall (2020): The Timing of Evolutionary Transitions Suggests Intelligent Life Is Rare · 2020-11-25T13:02:25.713Z · LW · GW

Yes for high concentration of observers, and if high tech civilizations have strong incentives to grab galactic resources as quickly as they can  thus preventing the emergence of other high tech civilizations, most civilizations such as ours will exist in universes that have some kind of late great filter to knock down civilizations before they can become spacefaring.

Comment by James_Miller on Snyder-Beattie, Sandberg, Drexler & Bonsall (2020): The Timing of Evolutionary Transitions Suggests Intelligent Life Is Rare · 2020-11-25T03:43:39.668Z · LW · GW

Thanks, that's a very clear explanation. 

Comment by James_Miller on Snyder-Beattie, Sandberg, Drexler & Bonsall (2020): The Timing of Evolutionary Transitions Suggests Intelligent Life Is Rare · 2020-11-24T12:51:14.401Z · LW · GW

At the end of Section 5.3 the authors write "So far, we have assumed that we can derive no information on the probability of intelligent life from our own existence, since any intelligent observer will inevitably find themself in a location where intelligent life successfully emerged regardless of the probability. Another line of reasoning, known as the “Self-Indication Assumption” (SIA), suggests that if there are different possible worlds with differing numbers of observers, we should weigh those possibilities in proportion to the number of observers (Bostrom, 2013). For example, if we posit only two possible universes, one with 10 human-like civilizations and one with 10 billion, SIA implies that all else being equal we should be 1 billion times more likely to live in the universe with 10 billion civilizations. If SIA is correct, this could greatly undermine the premises argued here, and under our simple model it would produce high probability of fast rates that reliably lead to intelligent life (Fig. 4, bottom)...Adopting SIA thus will undermine our results, but also undermine any other scientific result that would suggest a lower number of observers in the Universe. The plausibility and implications of SIA remain poorly understood and outside the scope of our present work."  

I'm confused, probably because anthropic effects confuse me and not because the authors made a mistake.  But don't the observer selection effects the paper uses derive information from our own existence, and if we make use of these effects shouldn't we also accept the implications of SIA?  Should rejecting SIA because it results in some bizarre theories cause us to also have less trust in observer selection effects?

Comment by James_Miller on Should students be allowed to give good teachers a bonus? · 2020-11-03T20:28:41.456Z · LW · GW

Not that I recall. 

Comment by James_Miller on Should students be allowed to give good teachers a bonus? · 2020-11-02T16:39:28.393Z · LW · GW

In 2007 I wrote an article for Inside Higher Ed advocating that "institutions should empower graduating seniors to reward teaching excellence. Colleges should do this by giving each graduating senior $1,000 to distribute among their faculty. Colleges should have graduates use a computer program to distribute their allocations anonymously."

https://insidehighered.com/views/2007/09/07/beyond-merit-pay-and-student-evaluations

Comment by James_Miller on How should one deal with life threatening infections or air planes? · 2020-10-29T22:39:07.661Z · LW · GW

In an accident something from your car could hit you in the head even if you have an airbag.  For example, the collusion could cause your head to hit a side window

Comment by James_Miller on How should one deal with life threatening infections or air planes? · 2020-10-29T17:31:50.813Z · LW · GW

The helmet I linked to is light and doesn't block your vision so I don't see how it could do any harm.  It would do a lot of good if you were wearing it when your head collided with something.  

Comment by James_Miller on How should one deal with life threatening infections or air planes? · 2020-10-29T12:42:24.109Z · LW · GW

Do you wear a helmet when in a car?  I do.

Comment by James_Miller on What is the current bottleneck on genetic engineering of human embryos for improved IQ · 2020-10-24T16:42:15.836Z · LW · GW

Think of mutational load as errors.  Reducing errors in the immune system's genetic code should decrease the risk of pandemics.  Reducing errors in people's brains should greatly increase the quality of intellectual output.  Hitting everyone in the head with a hammer a few times could, I suppose, through an extraordinarily lucky hit cause someone to produce something good that they otherwise wouldn't but most likely the hammer blows (analogous to mutational load) just gives us bad stuff.

Comment by James_Miller on What is the current bottleneck on genetic engineering of human embryos for improved IQ · 2020-10-23T13:41:55.008Z · LW · GW

The best way to radically increase the intelligence of humans would be to use Greg Cochran's idea of replacing rare genetic variations with common ones thereby greatly reducing mutational load.  Because of copying errors, new mutations keep getting introduced into populations, but evolutionary selection keeps working to reduce the spread of harmful mutations.  Consequently, if an embryo has a mutation that few other people have it is far more likely that this mutation is harmful than beneficial.  Replacing all rare genetic variations in an embryo with common variations would likely result in the eventual creation of a person much smarter and healthier than has ever existed.  The primary advantage of Cochran's genetic engineering approach is that we can implement it before we learn the genetic basis of human intelligence.  The main technical problem, from what I understand, from implementing this approach is the inability to edit genes with sufficient accuracy, at sufficiently low cost, and with sufficiently low side effects.

Comment by James_Miller on What posts do you want written? · 2020-10-22T00:54:30.026Z · LW · GW

Much of the harm of aging is the increased likelihood of getting many diseases such as cancer, heart disease, alzheimer's, and strokes as you age.  From my limited understanding, Metformin reduces the age-adjusted chance of getting many of these diseases and thus it's reasonable, I believe, to say that Metformin has anti-aging effects.

Comment by James_Miller on What posts do you want written? · 2020-10-19T20:33:15.305Z · LW · GW

Thanks!

Comment by James_Miller on What posts do you want written? · 2020-10-19T19:27:23.342Z · LW · GW

Metformin as a rationalist win.  For several years I have been taking 2 grams of Metformin a day for anti-aging reasons.  There is a vast literature on Metformin and as a mere economist I'm unqualified to summarize it.  But my (skin-in-the-game) guess is that all adults over 40 (and perhaps simply all adults) should be taking Metformin and I would love if someone with a bio-background wrote up a Metformin literature review understandable to those of us who understand statistics but not much about medicine.  The reason why Metformin might be universally beneficial and yet not generally taken is because no one holds a patent on Metformin (it's cheap), in the US you need a prescription to get it, and the medical system doesn't consider aging to be a disease.

Comment by James_Miller on Bet On Biden · 2020-10-18T12:21:22.073Z · LW · GW

I have bought $400 worth of Trump No contracts on PredictIt which will pay off if Trump loses.  The price as of this writing is 61 cents for a contract that pays $1 if Trump loses.

Comment by James_Miller on A full explanation to Newcomb's paradox. · 2020-10-12T17:56:09.752Z · LW · GW

Our estimate of which of the four possibilities is correct is conditional on us living in a universe where we observe that the predictor always guesses correctly.  If we put aside cheating (which should almost always be our guess if we observe something happening that seems to defy our understanding of how the universe operates) we should have massive uncertainty concerning how randomness and/or causation operates and thus not assign too low a probability to either (2) or (3).  

Comment by James_Miller on Honoring Petrov Day on LessWrong, in 2020 · 2020-09-28T17:12:45.979Z · LW · GW

For next year:  Raise $1,000 and convert the money to cash.  Setup some device where the money burns if a code is entered, and otherwise the money gets donated to the most effective charity.  Have a livestream that shows the cash and will show the fire if the code is entered.

Comment by James_Miller on Are aircraft carriers super vulnerable in a modern war? · 2020-09-20T19:19:08.618Z · LW · GW

To destroy an aircraft carrier you must first find it and in a war the US would prioritize taking out the enemy's ability to locate our aircraft carriers. Since the carriers move, knowing were one was an hour ago might not be enough information to destroy the carrier. In the next future aircraft carriers might be protected by laser anti-missile systems that could handle having only two seconds to destroy multiple incoming missiles.

Comment by James_Miller on Rationality for Kids? · 2020-09-17T12:49:17.397Z · LW · GW

Consider the board game Metaforms. It requires you to solve logical puzzles based on colors, shapes, and position.

https://www.amazon.com/FoxMind-Meta-Forms-Puzzle-Solving-Brain-Builder/dp/B0015MC2TO

Comment by James_Miller on The "AI Dungeons" Dragon Model is heavily path dependent (testing GPT-3 on ethics) · 2020-07-21T12:47:48.341Z · LW · GW

I got a fantastic answer the first time I tried. I used some of what you wrote as prompt. Part of GPT-3's (Dragon) response was "Now, let's see if I can get you talking about something else. Something more interesting than killing people for no reason."

Comment by James_Miller on Dynamic inconsistency of the inaction and initial state baseline · 2020-07-07T12:24:52.741Z · LW · GW

You might be interested in my co-authored article "An AGI with Time-Inconsistent Preferences."

https://arxiv.org/abs/1906.10536

Comment by James_Miller on Estimating COVID-19 Mortality Rates · 2020-06-07T19:57:48.093Z · LW · GW

Sorry no link, but we might do another podcast soon. As to why you should prefer this number, well, Scott Alexander said Greg has "creepy oracular powers".

Comment by James_Miller on Estimating COVID-19 Mortality Rates · 2020-06-07T17:07:27.065Z · LW · GW

According to Greg Cochran, NYC and Italy give us the best data and the mortality rate for people who get COVID seems around 1.2% for an age structure similar to the US.

Comment by James_Miller on Why aren’t we testing general intelligence distribution? · 2020-05-26T16:39:13.445Z · LW · GW

If general intelligence is a polygenic trait it will be normally distributed.

https://ib.bioninja.com.au/higher-level/topic-10-genetics-and-evolu/102-inheritance/polygenic-traits.html

Comment by James_Miller on What are your greatest one-shot life improvements? · 2020-05-16T17:32:07.331Z · LW · GW

Getting up at the exact same time every day, unless I happen to wake up before my alarm goes off. It seems to have improved my sleep quality.

Comment by James_Miller on Why COVID-19 prevention at the margin might be bad for most LWers · 2020-05-10T00:48:23.866Z · LW · GW

We are quickly learning how to treat the virus. Your grandparents chances of survival if they get COVID-19 are likely significantly higher if they get it in three months than today. As the virus is new to humans there are likely a lot of "low-hanging fruit" mutations for evolution to find, and the more people the virus is in the more chance it will stumble upon a mutation that makes it better at invading the cells of young people. We don't have a good estimate of how much long-term harm it does to people it doesn't kill. While if you get the virus this year, you will probably be safe from it next year, we don't know this for sure. We don't yet know if viral loads matter and it could be that the rapid initial exponential growth of the virus once it is in you means it really isn't important what your initial exposure is.

Comment by James_Miller on How likely is the COVID-19 apocalyptic scenario? · 2020-04-22T12:45:12.275Z · LW · GW

The probability of this happening is very low. We have effective coronavirus vaccines for pigs (although not for COVID-19). For most viruses people recover from, they keep immunity and we don't have good evidence that COVID-19 is different. While COVID-19 might do some harm to most people that recover, if the harm was on average significant we should have a lot more evidence of this. Also, the space of possible effective treatments is huge and it seems likely that within 2 years (perhaps even two months) we will be able to greatly improve outcomes for the infected. Finally, keep in mind that we have just started to fight COVID-19, and so we have not already tried and failed with all the obvious approaches and this should make us relatively optimistic about coming up with effective treatments or vaccines.

Comment by James_Miller on Will grocery stores thwart social distancing, and when should I eat my food stockpile? · 2020-03-29T00:03:05.061Z · LW · GW

Amazon Fresh doesn't deliver to my address, but with Amazon Prime, Amazon pantry, and Walmart.com I can still get a lot of food delivered to my door. I put packages in my basement (without touching them) and keep them there for at least 3 days before opening. If you don't have a basement, I suggest you put packages into a large garbage bag and leave them untouched for at least 3 days.

Comment by James_Miller on Advice on reducing other risks during Coronavirus? · 2020-03-26T21:57:02.133Z · LW · GW

Yes, if you are in public, but probably not if you are in your home.

Comment by James_Miller on Advice on reducing other risks during Coronavirus? · 2020-03-24T23:49:57.105Z · LW · GW

Don't push yourself too much when you exercise. Hold the railing when you walk downstairs. Get lots of sleep. Don't get intoxicated. Have antibiotic cream in your home.