Does human choice have to be transitive in order to be rational/consistent? 2019-08-11T01:49:23.967Z · score: 9 (6 votes)
Would refining the question a bit be better in terms of getting to answers? 2019-08-01T16:25:32.549Z · score: 4 (2 votes)
Another case of "common sense" not being common? 2019-07-31T17:15:40.674Z · score: 6 (4 votes)
Learning Over Time for AI and Humans and Rationality 2019-06-13T13:23:58.639Z · score: 5 (2 votes)


Comment by jmh on Reframing the evolutionary benefit of sex · 2019-09-15T14:04:48.412Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Not quite sure where this would fit into your views. A numbers of years back I came across an article about snails. Those that lived below of certain depth of water were unisex -- self replicating. The same species of snail, when living in shallower waters displayed male and female and reproduction required the exchange of genetic materials as you mentioned.

The theory on why that was observed was at a certain depth the snails were not confronted with a lot of the diseases they faced in the shallower waters. Sharing the genetic code improved their ability to fight the diseases, IIRC.

Comment by jmh on The Power to Understand "God" · 2019-09-14T14:03:42.847Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I do not see that it is my position to suggest or argue that you be anything. I would suggest the "burden of proof" why X does y will always belong with X.

If atheism is the faith position you want to defend or challenge with your power of specifics that is fine with me. It would be engaging shminux's suggestion rather than sidestepping it.

I am not defending or refuting anything here but will point out that atheism is a statement about something not existing. Proving something does not exist is a highly problematic exercise.

Comment by jmh on The Power to Solve Climate Change · 2019-09-14T13:26:16.244Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm finding this post difficult. The main reason I think is that the most focuses on controlling the temperature change rather than focusing on the results of temperature change and identifying the resulting problem.

Both provided links are nearly mute on that question, providing a short paragraph without further discussion or support.


The impact of global warming is far greater than just increasing temperatures. Warming modifies rainfall patterns, amplifies coastal erosion, lengthens the growing season in some regions, melts ice caps and glaciers, and alters the ranges of some infectious diseases. Some of these changes are already occurring.


A couple of degrees change in the average yearly temperature is far from a minor event. When Earth"s temperature was 5°C lower, the sea level was 120m lower and all of Northern Europe and Canada were covered by a gigantic ice cap (one could hike from Vermont to Greenland). Furthermore, average temperatures do not tell the whole story. As average temperatures increase, the likelihood of extreme temperature events might increase as well.
A change of a couple of degrees over the surface of the Earth first causes the oceans to absorb the extra heat. In the process, they expand (raising the sea level) and cause increased evaporation, which leads to perturbed air and water currents. This yields an increased likelihood of extreme weather events, such as drought, hurricanes or floods. This is already observed as e.g. coral reefs are starting to die.
Longer term effects are harder to quantify as a temperature change this sudden has never been witnessed in the past. To get an rough idea, this map shows what the world will look like 4° warmer while this article shows how sensitive birds and bees are to climate change. Furthermore, higher temperatures and more extreme weather causes crops to fail which will force refugees to flee inhabitable regions.That's ultimately bad for the economy.

The NASA statement seem, in most cases ambiguous. Changing rain patterns may be good, may be bad and the assessment probably depends on where you are. Lengthening growing seasons seems like a good thing -- we can feed more people, food maybe gets cheaper to produce and so cheaper to buy? I would like to know more about the affects of coastal erosion -- I don't believe it is one sided and always detrimental.

Tomorrow offers more but also includes more "weasel" terms -- might be, hard to quantify....

Additionally, another NASA link (found when looking for how temperatures are estimated for the past when we don't have recorded data) indicated 65 million years back temperatures were 10 - 15 degrees C higher. Life certainly seems to have been flourishing back them.

So, what specifics should be be looking at here. Seems like we're jumping on the "stop the warming" train without considering the benefits to warming and then considering the better approach might well be to accept higher temperatures (so it doesn't matter the cause really) and develop the technologies that are consistent with the evolving environment. Or more likely, some middle ground -- there are lots of reasons to limit emissions unrelated to temperature rising.

I just don't get why I really need to care about the average temperature as the main focus of either problem or solution. This is much more complicated than that and all the specifics here seem to cast as much shadow as light.

Comment by jmh on The Power to Solve Climate Change · 2019-09-13T19:04:45.205Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Politics and policy more often than now works to internalize rewards and externalize cost for a relevant block or special interest.

Comment by jmh on The Power to Understand "God" · 2019-09-13T16:23:05.850Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I would like to see shminux challenge addressed here. Let's pick another faith based case -- or even the atheist position (which I would argue is just as much about faith as the religious persons). I agree with the position that rationality leads not to no belief (in god or some other position) but an agnostic position.

Comment by jmh on Is competition good? · 2019-09-11T13:35:18.606Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Two observations.

I think you use "value" in a confusing manner. If value is the nominal price then value increases or decreases only if total income increases or decreases. If value is used in the sense I think you generally mean, then that is a largely (overwhelmingly largely IMO) subjective judgement and it's not clear if buying the car or making the donation a superior outcome.

Additionally, I think the conclusion, seems to needs something said about what the new restaurant owner and workers are doing. If we're in a zero-sum game then it really should be a wash. If, as generally accepted, markets tend to be positive sum games then we have a case of a smaller share of a larger pie (that is some of the employees will now eat at the first restaurant where as they could not before as they were unemployed, or making less money).

The other observation is about network effects. It used to be that businesses, particularly restaurants type businesses I think, used think they needed to be away from other restaurants. It was a form of spacial competition for demand. But that view has fallen to reality. We we that proximity to other competitors is not that bad and can actually increase total demand for all on the supply side. That seems to be driven by network type effects. Think about the dinning/club districts in cities, shopping mall and their food courts.

Of course there are limits but the simple model of competition don't really seem to capture the real dynamics of market competition.

Comment by jmh on Is my result wrong? Maths vs intuition vs evolution in learning human preferences · 2019-09-10T16:01:35.919Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I wonder if part of messiness might stem from confusing various domains and ranges. For example, for human, we have a complex of wants -- some are driven very much by physiological factors, some by cultural factor and some by individual factors (including things like what I did yesterday or 5 hours ago). We might call these our preference domain.

Then we need some function mapping the preferences into the range of behaviors that are observable. Assuming that there is something approximating a function here (caveat - not a math guy here so maybe that is misused/loaded here). From that we have some hope for deducing the behavior back to the preference.

However, we should not consider the above three sources as coming from the same domain, or mapping to the same range. Confusion may come in from both the fuzziness (I'm implicitly agreeing with the general cannot infer preferences from behavior that well as a general proposition) of the "correct" function as well as a confusion of associating a behavior to one of the three ranges, and then attempting to deduce the preference.

If I see A doing x and ascribe x to the physiological range and then attempt to deduce the preference (in the physiological domain) when x is actually in the individual range for A I will probably see a lot of errors. But maybe not 100% error.

I do think there is something to the we're all human so can recognize a lot of meaning in action from others -- but things like culture (as mentioned) does influence performance here. So, what is an acceptable accuracy rate? Is the goal mathematical certainty or something else?

Comment by jmh on The Power to Demolish Bad Arguments · 2019-09-05T12:23:55.404Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Not invested either, but I thought its view of the future where, in general, people moved from owning transportation capital (cars) to one of an on demand use of transportation service seems to have some sense to it. Coupled with the move toward rental of personal assets while not used, like the AirBnB model it looks a bit better too (perhaps as a transition state...?)

That does seem to depend on more than merely the technical and financial aspect. I suspect there is also the whole cultural and social (and probably the legal liability and insurance aspects for the autonomous car) part that will need to shift to support that type of market shift.

Not sure if this is a move in the similar direction but one of the big car rental companies just launched (or will) a new service for longer term rental. Basically you can pay a monthly fee and drive most of the cars they offer. The market here seemed to be those that might want a difference car every few weeks (BMW this month, Audi next, any maybe Lexus a bit later...). In the back of my mind I cannot help be see some time of signaling motivation here and wonder just how long that lasts if everyone can do it -- all the different cars you are seen driving no long signals any really type of status. Still, there are clearly some functional aspects that make it appealing over having to own multiple vehicles.

Comment by jmh on The Power to Demolish Bad Arguments · 2019-09-03T12:12:55.228Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I find that I struggle with the rhetoric of the argument. Shouldn't the goal be to illuminate facts and truths rather than merely proving the other side wrong? Specifics certainly allow the illumination of truths (and so getting less wrong in our decisions and actions). However, it almost reads like the goal is to use specificity as some rhetorical tool in much the same way statistics can be misused to color the lens and mislead.

I'm sure that is not your goal so assume one of the hidden assumptions here could be put in the title. One additional word: The Power to Demolish BAD Arguments might set a better tone at the start.

Comment by jmh on A Personal Rationality Wishlist · 2019-08-28T12:58:52.896Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

True, it would be a very awkward mechanism to allow the front wheel to be turned.

Clearly an example of what Said was pointing out!

Edit - after some though driving home yesterday it occurred that I was in error in agreeing with the "cannot steer" claim. My error was imposing the image of the rear drive chain arrangement as the only way to drive the front wheel. That is not the case and it seem a few others besides Ericf and I fell into that error in mindset.

Comment by jmh on How do you learn foreign language vocabulary, beyond Anki? · 2019-08-28T12:55:39.012Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I did understand that. I find that my ability to read Korean is improving with my ability to understand the spoken language and my vocabulary improved faster than with just flash cards.

Might be me but my thinking was still along the lines of forming more connections to the meaning and so making it more efficient learning of the vocabulary.

Comment by jmh on How do you learn foreign language vocabulary, beyond Anki? · 2019-08-27T13:13:22.365Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I do like that suggestion about trying to remove the English word and just try to associate the foreign word with the concept/thing.

Comment by jmh on How do you learn foreign language vocabulary, beyond Anki? · 2019-08-27T13:08:24.279Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

not sure if this would help or not.

Basically someone talking about how to use Anki effectively based on his own experiences and what he found he was doing wrong.

It might be not so great as it's about learning medical terms for med school so not quite a new language.

Not sure if you've seen Quizlet before or not. I like that tools it offers. If you have not already looked at that you might take a look. Not sure how easy it would be but Quizlet also allows sharing decks with others so if you have anyone you are learning with -- or are in any online groups for learning German that might provide some options to help.

It sounds like you've already homed in on one of the big items -- relevance and context to you personally.

One last thing, do you speak the word aloud? If not maybe try. That will engage other parts of your brain and so perhaps create more links to the meaning and a stronger memory of the word and meaning.

Last edit... Do you listen to any German language music or watch German language movies/shows?

Comment by jmh on A Personal Rationality Wishlist · 2019-08-27T12:49:55.912Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Hmm, never thought about it but an all wheel drive bike sounds like it might be useful -- maybe as off road/mountain bike. (Said by the guy who has ridden the bike he bough at least 5 years ago about 5 time now....)

Comment by jmh on Actually updating · 2019-08-24T21:04:46.008Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Along the same lines as TurnTrout, I was wondering about the abstraction versus specific situation. I am not asking that any share anything they would not be comfortable with. However, I do think abstraction from oneself in the analysis can just be another one of the protection mechanisms that can be used to allow us to appear to be making progress while while still avoiding the underlying truth driving our behaviors.

That said, I think Sara offers some very good items to consider.

Okay, this next bit is not directly related but seems implicit in the posting, and other posts I've read here. Does the LW community tend to see the human mind and "person" as a collection of entities/personalities/agents/thinking processes? Or am I jumping to some completely absurd conclusion on that?

Comment by jmh on Paradoxical Advice Thread · 2019-08-23T15:00:48.472Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, I think that helped.

Very relevant to this post:

"Don't over think things." versus "If it seems clear and obvious, you don't really understand it."

Thinking of the skin in the game and asymmetric justice example, I wonder if one aspect might be considering why the saying came about. Skin in the game seems to be something about *others* we interact with on something. We're happy to join in to play under those terms, perhaps some incentive to trust the other will also make an effort. The asymmetric justice aspect is more about how we might behave to a large extent independent of what the others are doing.

We might also want to say both are saying the same thing, but illustrating a different facet. If no one has any skin in the game how would mistakes be punished? The incentives for all having skin in the game is about getting people to join (play with the others) while the asymmetric justice incentive notes the cost of that buy-in to get a game played.

Not all all sure how far that get though. It is a very interesting thought you've given.

Comment by jmh on Intentional Bucket Errors · 2019-08-23T11:35:22.422Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I wonder if casting the approach as a prudent application of Occam's Razor might make it a bit less needful of defense.

If one can simplify things by treating to arguably different things the same and thereby shed light and gain a better understanding of either or both that seems useful.

Comment by jmh on Paradoxical Advice Thread · 2019-08-22T12:24:04.792Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Hazzard, I don't think you're suggesting that such a paradoxical situation is necessarily false or wrong but wanted to check. If not, then part of the question might be when (necessary and sufficient condition if possible) are such paradoxes to be strongly questioned/challenged and when should we accept we do live in a world with paradoxes.

Looking at the equal and opposite link I came away with one main reaction: one size never fits all.

Comment by jmh on Paradoxical Advice Thread · 2019-08-22T12:20:57.443Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Was thinking of the same comment. Heard it from my nephew when he was living in my house shortly after he graduated.

FYI -- , the quip appears to go back to at least 1994.

Comment by jmh on Do We Change Our Minds Less Often Than We Think? · 2019-08-20T16:35:17.973Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I wonder if one can connect this suggested outcome with the old always go with your first intuition on multiple choice questions.

One aspect to getting answers here seems like it would be about how much is our decision-making about existing preconceptions and biases we carry around and how much might be related to things we actually know but do not keep front of mind or articulate to ourselves while thinking.

Comment by jmh on Eight Short Studies On Excuses · 2019-08-20T15:38:26.272Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

" to some degree these are devil's bargains, as anyone who can predict you will do this can take advantage of you. "

What if one randomized their response to the acceptable excuse case? I suppose there might still be some gaming to occur but that should greatly reduce the ability for being taken advantage of as prediction is no longer really possible.

Comment by jmh on Does human choice have to be transitive in order to be rational/consistent? · 2019-08-12T12:04:39.343Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Thought I had replied ... but no seeing that now.

You are showing me an error in casual thought and speech I have. I should not link the two terms as I did -- but do carry seem to carry the two concepts around in my head largely in the same bucket as it were. I should stop doing that!


I really should have just stayed with the question of consistency and if transitivity was really a sufficient condition to suggest inconsistency was present -- which seemed implied in the comment I read sparking the thought.

Comment by jmh on Does human choice have to be transitive in order to be rational/consistent? · 2019-08-11T13:52:38.297Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

You give me two things to think about now. Your comment about intelligence and how models fit in.

It could be that as intelligence grows (and I'm using intelligence loosely to include both raw analytic capacity and knowledge and information) we become better at distilling those bundles of attributes we labeled A, B and C into a common denominator. But I also can see that working the other way too -- we gain an ability to further differentiate alternatives so see more intransitive relationships.

I wonder if there are settings -- not sure if that would be specific to the characteristics of the alternatives or characteristics relating to uses of the alternatives (means-driven versus ends-driven) -- where we might predict which of the two paths would be taken.

Since we only interact with the external world via the models in our head I am now wondering about the relationship between the consistency of the models and the consistency of the decision or observed behavior/choices. But this is even less thought out than my original questions so think I stop at that.

Comment by jmh on Trauma, Meditation, and a Cool Scar · 2019-08-09T14:19:35.928Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Thank you for sharing. It is great to hear you have come though the dark and back into the sun (even if with one shaded eye -- pirate patches are a cool accessory for cools scares right?)

Great seeing the two smiling faces with that cool scare too!

For me it is very hard to share that type of personal trauma but you give others some courage to open up as well. Thanks again.

Comment by jmh on Why do humans not have built-in neural i/o channels? · 2019-08-08T23:02:46.235Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

While I am also not sure I should try answering here, seems that an obvious first cut at answering the first question would that to address why it would be an evolutionary advantage? How good does the communication need to be for survival and being the fittest for whatever niche is to be occupied?

Behind that might be two related questions/assumptions. One, when a mutation evolves to provide and advantage in some environment should we expect big changes, little changes or some ongoing sequence of "improvements" leading to some big change (think rapid changes over a relatively short period). Putting that a bit differently, is evolution a slacker that settles for the minimum or some type of maximizing process?

The other question/assumption is what are the constraints or opportunity costs for an evolution. Just how big a change can occur as one might expect that to be a costly process for the organism.

[And yes I realize the above sounds a bit like evolution as a conscious or intelligent process but that is due of writing quickly and so poorly expressing the thought ...]

Comment by jmh on Searle’s Chinese Room and the Meaning of Meaning · 2019-08-06T11:39:52.355Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I've often thought the best test of the present of an intelligence would not be "can it solve a problem someone gave it to solve" but rather can it identify a problem for itself to be solved without some external intelligence posing the problem. In other words, can it start asking and answering it's own questions.

Comment by jmh on The Importance of Those Who Aren't Here · 2019-08-01T14:15:04.745Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Fully agree. I would add this is something politician and political parties would do well (from the perspective of becoming actually Representatives of the people -- though might not be good from a partisan goals view...) to pay attention to.

Or, perhaps in light of the parenthetical thought, perhaps that is something the electorate and, more so, the media should take note of.

Comment by jmh on Another case of "common sense" not being common? · 2019-08-01T14:08:13.185Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW
Problems are encoded in technical jargon which makes understanding them, much less solving them, more time consuming.

You make many good observations/points that I agree with.

The quoted bullet is really related to the main reaction I had.

Comment by jmh on Another case of "common sense" not being common? · 2019-08-01T13:30:12.586Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

In my experience the phrase is generally used in situations where everyone is approaching a situation as if it must have some complicated and complex solution. They seem to get caught up with thinking just because we have not seen the solution it's not ultimately can have a rather simple solution approach.

The common sense is to not over complicate and get in to all kinds of convoluted thinking.

Comment by jmh on The Real Rules Have No Exceptions · 2019-07-24T18:32:05.049Z · score: -1 (2 votes) · LW · GW
If you learn something new, or encounter some new situation, that makes some existing rule no longer make sense—you discard that rule, and make a new rule. This is no different from encountering a “legitimate exception”.

I think walking through that door puts us right back with the exception to every rule -- which has always implied the exception was in fact legitimate.

Exceptions are a fiction. They’re a way for us to avoid admitting (sometimes to ourselves, sometimes to others) that the rule as stated, together with the criteria for deciding whether something is a “legitimate” exception, is the actual rule.

Requires that we already had the criteria for deciding if the as yet unknown exception arising from the know information was in fact well formed and able to deal with the unknown information.

If one wants to argue that rules are inherently context/informationlly bound and within those bounds we can define where the rule applies and where it does not I agree. But that seems a lot different than saying we can update rules as situations arise and some how that allows us to escape the trap or temptation of claiming "exception" to escape holding ourselves to the rule.

Comment by jmh on The Real Rules Have No Exceptions · 2019-07-24T12:18:31.086Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

On a more depressing note one might look into the events in the Korean War "except for women and children" was not applied. The movie is called A Little Pond (it was available on Amazon Prime a year or so back not sure if it's there now though) about the events at Nogunri.

Now, the movie also depicts the more human side of a soldier when confronted directly with that act -- rather than the impersonal shapes from hundreds of meters away -- near the end of the movie.

I would also add, regarding the whole permissible versus exception, that I suspect it is even grayer than suggested. The 5 year old with a radio is hardly and less a part of the fighting force than the civilians providing all the logistics and production supporting any of the military actions. So where is that line?

I'm not sure the AI will do much worse or much better than those making the plans and issuing the orders far from the battle ground and not exposed to the bloodshed and human carnage.

Comment by jmh on The Real Rules Have No Exceptions · 2019-07-24T12:02:09.747Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

At one level I can find agreement with your position. On another I find it difficult.

Well defined rules should clearly apply (much like a function with a clean mapping from domain to range) to know settings. However, that then begs the question of how do we know we have clearly defined or perceived all the possible setting the rule might seem to apply.

Is there a presumption of perfect knowledge when making the rule?

[Edit to add: Has anyone here read the article "Origins of Predictable Behavior" -- AER 1984 I think. Ron Heiner. If not I think it may offer some additional insights to this discussion. Over 20 years since I read it so don't even want to try summarizing impressionistic memory I have.]

Comment by jmh on When does adding more people reliably make a system better? · 2019-07-19T13:41:42.468Z · score: 8 (3 votes) · LW · GW

From a slightly different slant, where I work the executives decided, maybe 5 years ago, that they would start hiring only from the 10 schools and only the top candidates from those schools. When we get a new CEO during one of the company "townhall" meetings that subject came up.

The new CEO noted a discussion in the board room related to that. The bottom line was that for the most part none of the top people had degrees from such schools. One might add that the company had grown to it's dominant market position with a workforce that did not reflect such a profile either.

It would seem the approach was scrapped.

I think the underlying approaches are actually the same -- the desire for a "simple" (at least in the sense of clearly defined process or heuristic) solution to a rather difficult problem. How does one recognize just how [one] will add great value to future activities that are by nature not really driven by any one individual's abilities or direct contribution?

Comment by jmh on Why did we wait so long for the bicycle? · 2019-07-18T11:50:59.910Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

That someone happens at some point rather than another point is an interesting question to explore but is also one that probably seldom has good answers. Still, intellectual curiosity is a goal in self.

I wonder if a better starting point for the inquiry might not actually be why the invention was invented when it was -- why the inventor made the effort in the first place. What problem was being solved. We can then look at various limiting factors to see if they would have made the effort futile if done at some earlier period of time.

That might help place some markets in history on when the invention became feasible.

But the question seems to have the two parts:

1) When the realities of the world support such an action/invention.

2) When does someone have that "oh, duh" moment when they thing "We could do this [easier] if X were present and I can figure out how to have X."

We can reasonably get answers to the first part. I think for the second part we will find that more challenging.

A related question might also be about inventive thoughts and vision that were impossible at the time they were thought and theoretically designed and what role they had an shaping the future.

That reminds me lyrics in an old song (old as in 80 or 90s not 1500s ;-) "if you cannot change the world change yourself. if you cannot change yourself, change the world"

Comment by jmh on Why did we wait so long for the bicycle? · 2019-07-18T11:30:11.180Z · score: 11 (4 votes) · LW · GW

" willing to abandon ancestor worship, " this phrase in particular makes me wonder if the question here and the one about why China didn't invent science don't share much in the analytical domain space.

Comment by jmh on How can guesstimates work? · 2019-07-11T12:55:31.279Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This statement made me wonder: " Things are generally closer to optimal equilibria, and equilibria are more legible/predictable than non-quilibria."

And I might be thinking incorrectly myself here as well as not fully following your though.

Why would the equilibria position be more predictable than off equilibria? One thought might be that we have this sense of balance so in an equilibrium we feel that it right (and using "feel" is probably a poor word choice but little time to find the right word). But that doesn't mean we can then make any types of predictions.

The thought that came to me was more along the idea, if we generally understand where the equilbirum position should be then we have some idea of where we should go. (Think standard econ theory of prices as signals and arbitrage to equilibrate across markets).

However, if we are at the equilibrium position it might not be clear what happens if we do something we want to do but have never done before. Will that be consistent with equilibrium or disruptive. I think this does fit with the whole "guestimate" approach to predication and forecasting. Perhaps your view on more predictability then comes from having the equilibrium as the initial position you start from. But what if equilibrium is more like a place where information is actually lost?

Comment by jmh on 87,000 Hours or: Thoughts on Home Ownership · 2019-07-10T14:04:03.259Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think one aspect is that financial assets are merely stores of wealth with potential for growth/returns as well as risks. The house has both of those as well as a direct use value in consuming the housing services. Additionally it offers something of a risk/uncertainty mitigating role. Once paid for the cost of consuming that housing services is pretty low so even if you see a bit hit to your income you still have a stable place to build from.

I think it's really all the non-pecuniary aspects that get missed when analysis starts relying too strongly on the monetary equivalence point of view; by which I mean we start filtering those aspects out and just don't see them.

Comment by jmh on Do bond yield curve inversions really indicate there is likely to be a recession? · 2019-07-10T12:14:12.882Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

A couple of thoughts.

One, the inversion seems to be in line with most credit cycle theories of economic activity I think. Basically, during an expansion debt increases and as the economy reaches it's peak you may see more reliance on shorter term debt for a number of reasons. When the short term debt costs rise that type of financing drives costs up, and so the marginal activities out of the market. Market activities are interdependent within an economy so you start seeing the domino effect play out.

The other thought I had was are we talking real economic activities, recession, or financial market activities (bear market/crash)? I think that matters if one wants to explore "what actions" anyone might consider taking. And, the answer will likely depend on the person's specific situation. Here it might be a bit like the distinction between recession and depressions -- recession if your neighbor looses the job, depression is you loose the job. How secure is your employment and income outlook is probably a more important question than if we have a recession in 2020.

I found this and it might have some insights for you. I think the point that every case of inverted curves is not the same -- you need to understand the underlying drivers -- is particularly important to consider. As always, the devil will be in the details but everyone seems to want the simple heuristic. (I would think some Bayesian would be having fun here and maybe someone has info on that type of insight). I recall seeing something about duration of the inversion as well mattering but I seriously doubt one could say X days/weeks or less no recession but over that....

I think one can look at the curve inversion as one data element, not really a primary cause (my first comment aside) and put that in context with a number of other aspect. One, we've had a very long expansion -- but it's not be really exciting so perhaps it can run longer. We are in a presidential election cycle; they tent to be possible for aggregate economic activity. The geopolitical landscape is disturbing at best but it's not clear to me if that will be a positive or negative for any given domestic economy, USA or other. Inflation remains tame. Employment mostly okay (USA markets at least).

I think fears of recessions provide something of a wake up call to many. They worry and then look at what they have done in terms of savings and borrowing and it probably scares many. Rather than treating the situation as something of a new years resolution -- so soon forgotten once the new years passes -- consider making changes to behavior in the good times.

Comment by jmh on "Rationalizing" and "Sitting Bolt Upright in Alarm." · 2019-07-09T12:05:05.954Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Would you place motivated errors, generally, in the same bucket as confirmation bias type thinking?

Comment by jmh on 87,000 Hours or: Thoughts on Home Ownership · 2019-07-08T11:44:13.706Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I did not read -- so probably should not comment, but will anyway. In a very quick skimming nothing jumped out at me regarding the aspect of time horizons and particularly wealth transfer to the next generation.

Did I just miss that? If not would adding the idea of inter temporal transfers (inheritance) change any of the conclusions?

[Edit to add] While not about a house, I recently sold a trailer and truck. Given the response I was clearly under market price but as I was really interested starting to "clean up" my possessions I am not crying about the possible opportunity loss there. But was I did give some thought to was: What was a rough estimate of the rental rate on the two for the time I owned them. A very quick and crude calculation in my head came to under $400 a month easily.

That is a little deceptive in that these were not really used daily or even weekly -- lots of down time. So (assuming I could even find a place to rent what I had) I might have come about better renting rather than buying. But that is only because I was not using them daily. If the house worked out the same I think I come out miles ahead buying the house in most situation. (Anecdotal to be sure and possible not a good comparison setting)

Comment by jmh on A Sketch of Good Communication · 2019-07-01T16:44:07.271Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Not sure how, of even if, this relates but seemed somewhat connected to what you're looking at.

For some reason your parenthetical made me think of some of what Smolin was saying about how we view the universe and how we should try to model it.

Comment by jmh on How can we measure creativity? · 2019-07-01T15:09:20.703Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

" But I don't have anything better to use for my actual goal, which is a measurable task that taxes creativity and *nothing else* "

Maybe I'm reading this wrong, but why would one want to tax creativity? Seems to me that for the most part, creativity will have a lot of public good characteristics -- though I suppose one might suggest creative destruction is a better view...

Comment by jmh on The Competence Myth · 2019-07-01T12:30:28.241Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Not completely surprised but would wonder how much of that is accounted by merger and it that should be considered the same as failure/bankruptcy cases.

I suspect the technology that would make mergers less costly has increased since the 50s. If so there were perhaps mergers that were not taking place but would have.

Comment by jmh on The Competence Myth · 2019-07-01T12:26:31.462Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Sounds like the margins of life are ruled by the Peter Principle.

Comment by jmh on Apocalypse, corrupted · 2019-07-01T12:17:41.925Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I suspect that is true but wonder if that works the best or not. This may apply in a lot of cases -- and may be wrong but I don't think so. The culture where I work is very much about reinforcing the positives and ignoring the flaws (within limits). The rule might be stated as reward the desired behaviors and ignore the bad behaviors (again within some limits as accountability is also expected -- just seems to be more about trying to get everyone to be accountable themselves rather than walking around with the stick).

That seems like it might apply in a number of settings. The company is a successful, global corporation and is seen as a top performer and preferred place of employment in the market (will not disclose though) so it seems like it is not a terrible approach.

I think this might apply to raising children as well. Children will see the attention of their parents. If the parent tends to focus on the errors and mistakes then the child is likely to act up to get more mommy or daddy time -- even when it's not pleasant. That then leads to forming similar relationships later in life.

Not sure how well that might apply to larger settings like legal punishments. I think there might be something there -- forget the saying but basically prison creates hardened criminals out of normal people many times. Still in that setting the few are really seeing the approval of any authority figures so might not apply as well -- even ignoring the fact that most cases will be outside the limits of the use the honey not vinegar rule.

Of course this is something of a could/should versus is setting I think -- you are simply suggesting the empirical state not suggesting what might be an improvement. Still, the dynamics seem rather more complicated then would be needed to make the the assumption you seem to start with.

I did just have a thought -- may or may not be interesting here -- regarding the intra-group and inter-group relationships suggested. If we accept that the intra-group relationships under stress might be more cooperative (for survival incentives), then characterizing the post- apocalyptic setting as "defect" or a Hobbesean state of nature seems to suggest that most of the interactions will be inter-group rather than intra-group. That seems questionable to me but I might be thinking wrong on that.

Comment by jmh on Apocalypse, corrupted · 2019-06-27T12:13:37.594Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'm wondering why you think corruption is the natural outcome. The reason I am asking was having seen one of the Nat Geo (or similar) shows about a pride of lion in a less than optimal location for lions. What was observed was that this pride of lions actually cooperated more (in sharing food rather than all fighting over it per some status/badness ranking) than was observe in prides in more suitable territories.

It might have been in this forum, not sure, where someone pointed to some literature about the possibly counter intuitive outcome that hardship of groups actually promoted the cooperative behaviors -- suggesting corruption might be more likely in the pre-apocalyptic setting.

Contrary to what we see in movies, is it possible that the post-apocalyptic setting might actually produce a more merit driven social setting that one of corruption and nepotism?

Comment by jmh on Being the (Pareto) Best in the World · 2019-06-25T13:15:37.774Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

" Third, this whole strategy inherently involves trailblazing. You have to do something which nobody has done before - that's kinda the point. "

But more than that, you need to blaze a new trail that still fits in with the needs of the world around you. A new trail to the cliff no one wants to be on doesn't get you much but a rather long fall I think ;-)

But in general I like the observation you've made.

Comment by jmh on The Parable of the Dagger · 2019-06-25T13:10:29.565Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'll somewhat echo what CynicalOptimist wrote. I think the message is is one any first semester logic student should have been taught or know: a valid argument is not necessarily true. The validity of an argument's conclusion is all about form of the argument. The truth of the conclusion is an external fact existing completely independent from the argument's structure.

Comment by jmh on Is the "business cycle" an actual economic principle? · 2019-06-18T19:26:03.327Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

As mentioned the ABCT has some good points in explaining why things might happen. But I also think the coordination problem over time in terms of economic activity will inherently get things wrong, so downturns will occur.

There have also been some evidence that political event, like various elections, can influence.

I don't think any lend themselves to true function precision (echoing the time problem moses mentions).

I would ask if you're inquiring based on financial market fluctuations are if you're asking about real business cycles (recession/depression and expansion/contraction) events. I think characterizing real economic cycles as driven by a random process would be problematic -- even if one might suggest that the sale of any given can of soup might be modeled that way.

Comment by jmh on Get Rich Real Slowly · 2019-06-11T12:35:04.454Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Like Dagon, I would like to see some argument for the smaller, lower volatility (risk) approach is preferred -- particularly as you seem to imply this is what everyone should be doing.

I don't see the argument that everyone can get rich slowly. I get that the suggested approach is great for some return while preserving existing capital/wealth. But that is really only useful to those that are already rich. 2% on $100,000,000 is not a bad income stream to live off ;-) That 2% on your $1000 you scraped together from spare change is not going to provide for your retirement.

I think clarifying just who the audience for the advise is would be really helpful.