Posts

AI Alignment, Constraints, Control, Incentives or Partnership? 2019-12-31T13:42:56.471Z · score: 6 (2 votes)
Double Cruz and Verification of Claims 2019-11-21T13:37:57.368Z · score: 6 (2 votes)
Current Law Proposed to allow competition in Social Media 2019-10-23T13:13:32.581Z · score: 2 (3 votes)
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)

Comments

Comment by jmh on Can we always assign probabilities? · 2020-01-17T14:11:33.080Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Just a passing though here. Is probability really the correct term? I wonder if what we do in these types of cases is more an assessment of our confidence in our ability to extrapolate from past experience into new, and often completely different, situations.

If so that is really not a probability about the event we're thinking about -- though perhaps is could be seen as one about our ability to make "wild" guesses (and yes, that is hyperbole) about stuff we don't really know anything about. Event there I'm not sure probability is the correct term.

With regard to the supernatural things, that tends to be something of a hot button to a lot of people I think. Perhaps a better casting would be things we have some faith in -- which tend to be things we must infer rather than have any real evidence providing some proof. I think these change over time -- we've had faith in a number of theories that have been later proven -- electrons for example or other sub atomic particles.

But then what about dark matter and energy? The models seem to say we need that but as yet we cannot find it. So we have faith in the model and look to prove that faith was justified by finding the dark stuff. But one might as why we have that faith rather than being skeptical of the model, even while acknowledging it has proven of value and helped expand knowledge. I think we have better discussion about faith in this context (perhaps) that if we get into religion and supernatural subjects (though arguably we should treat them the same as the faith we have in other models to my view).

Comment by jmh on How to Escape From Immoral Mazes · 2020-01-17T13:51:35.615Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

First to be clear I have not closely read all the series or even this one completely -- just feeling sick today so not focused. However, I did have a thought I wanted to get out. May have been well addressed already.

It seems that we are perhaps missing an element here. Is it possible that even if one is working, from a entire corporate structure setting, in a moral maze that various levels and don't really impose the same problems. Thinking of this as a setting where we see the whole as one large pond. However, what if rather than one large pond what we have is actually a collection or connected smaller ponds and the maze really only applies in some and at the collection of ponds level.

Is there something of a fallacy of composition error potential here? The whole is a moral maze but many of the ponds it is comprised of lack that character?

If so then it may well be possible to escape the maze without having to quit the job.

Comment by jmh on In Defense of the Arms Races… that End Arms Races · 2020-01-16T15:01:25.987Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW
states pursuing power in zero-sum power races ultimately created positive sum economic spillovers from peace and innovation.

Which seems a lot like one might characterized basic research in many ways -- it seems a bit wasteful and doesn't really accomplish a lot that is directly useful to anyone on most practical levels initially. However ultimately it tends to plant a lot of seeds or open a lot of new development branches that do.

So are arms races, particularly those that don't end in an armed conflict, something we can view as just another form of basic research? Or is the arms race side of this just one of the branches that stemmed from the basic research and maybe we shouldn't give the arms race or the zero-sum power game much credit for the spin offs?

I'm also not quite sure what to make of "if the 'good guys' are going to win (and remain good guys)." That seems to be too subjective to be much help to me.

Comment by jmh on Repossessing Degrees · 2020-01-14T14:11:06.519Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I wonder if some form of garnishment agreement would be better. Still own on you student loan then the job applicant would be required to notify the employer of the outstanding debt and the employer agree to making the garnishment withholding.

We might want to set a some moratorium on interests -- put that on hold at some point (without any hidden accruals) and then once the person is employed give them a year or two before the interest kicks in again.

Comment by jmh on Are "superforecasters" a real phenomenon? · 2020-01-12T19:31:09.707Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks. Interesting, though not too surprising in some ways.

Comment by jmh on On Being Robust · 2020-01-12T19:21:59.390Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This reflect both a couple of comments I've made regarding rules versus analyzing/optimizing as well as very unclear thought I've had bouncing around in my head for a little while now. The though is about the tendency of discussion here being very formal and model oriented, as if we really can optimize in our daily lives like occurs in the theoretical world of our minds and equations and probabilities. I'm not saying that approach is something to avoid, only that it does tent to set the focus on a view of precision that probably does not obtain for most in a majority of situations. (The recent post about acting on intuitions rather than the calculations, then tracking those over a year or two to see what you learn fits here too.)

This rule approach clearly takes that every case decision analysis choice away, if one buys into following the rule. However, we all know that in some cases you can get away with violating the rule (and perhaps even should violate the rule -- or revise as has been suggested in other threads/comments as I recall). At the same time if can be difficult, as you mention, to know just which cases are good for violating the general rule. I would add that it might not be enough to keep track of when we violate the rule and what the results were -- the probably hangs on just how representative the individual cases are and how well we can tell the differences in any truly complex case.

This seems all very paradoxical to me, and generally I can deal with paradox and a contradictory world (or perhaps just in my own behavior when I try viewing it from an outside perspective). Still, I find myself wanting to wrap my own thinking around the situation be bit better as I read various approaches or thoughts by people here.

Comment by jmh on Are "superforecasters" a real phenomenon? · 2020-01-10T16:45:49.371Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

In this analysis is there any assumption about information states? Is the idea that the forecasts are all based on public information everyone has available to them? Or can that explain part of the different performance and then we need to look at a subset with perhaps better access to the information and see how they perform against one another -- or various types of informational asymmetries or institutional factors related to the information.

Comment by jmh on 2020's Prediction Thread · 2020-01-10T16:34:50.693Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

You don't seem to recognize an attempt at humor. I take it you never read A Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.

Comment by jmh on Homeostasis and “Root Causes” in Aging · 2020-01-10T16:32:36.714Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Frailty seems a questionable cause in this context. Am in interpreting incorrectly perhaps?

I would think frailty while young might be a symptom of something that leads to death but how do we go from "sturdy" and so healthy and living well (in a functional sense) to old and frail and more likely to die?

The other two, seem more like lottery type cases, yes we all have a probability of contracting some infection or virus that our immune systems just cannot deal with so we die. We have a probability of cancer destroying critical systems. But that doesn't quite explain the whole aging story to me -- why the slow path to what we see physically rather than a sudden break? Or is this inference about how we should observe things missing something you perhaps have bundled into the three causes you mention above I perhaps I should understand why (if I were more knowledgeable on this area)?

Comment by jmh on Homeostasis and “Root Causes” in Aging · 2020-01-06T19:45:20.341Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Here is one link: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/10/191031174650.htm . I was not able to find the one I was actually reading earlier (and apparently my poor sleep last night was not sufficient and I cannot remember how I found it....) but the link here seems to be referencing the study I was reading about.

BTW, when I mentioned "external" I was not thinking external to the organism (e.g., me) but rather external to the cells (or at least many of them) but within the confines of our body or organ.

[Just found it with a different seach. https://www.sciencenews.org/article/sleep-may-trigger-rhythmic-power-washing-brain ]

Comment by jmh on Homeostasis and “Root Causes” in Aging · 2020-01-06T18:18:03.426Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I wonder if perhaps something more environmental might also be playing a part. The protein toxins that are associated with Alzheimer's seem to build over time and the effectiveness some of the processes that work to clean them up may be negatively impacted they its presence. Seems the the sleep cycle (non-REM) results in a reverse flow type flushing of the brain that help clear this out. But the build up itself seem related to not getting that sleep needed.

So what about internal and external to the cells themselves? Could some elements or combination of things build up that we're just not looking at yet -- have not see it as connected to any of the processes?

Comment by jmh on [Book Review] The Trouble with Physics · 2020-01-05T14:19:01.063Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW
This might be tenable if the foundations of physics (general relativity and quantum theory) were plausibly true. But general relativity and quantum theory contradict each other. They cannot both be correct. Therefore at least half of physics is wrong.

I also don't think the logic of the argument quite holds.

My take is we can interpret the situation better via a clock metaphor. Specifically the old staying about running and stopped watches. The running one is almost always wrong while the stopped (broken/not running) one is correct twice a day (assuming the 12 hour clock).

I don't disagree with the general sentiment here, but think a better way to approach it might be recognizing the essentially all of physics is incomplete. One of the ways this manifests in the science is that disagreement between the quantum and macro theories.

Comment by jmh on Making decisions when both morally and empirically uncertain · 2020-01-04T15:06:49.862Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Not really a game-theoretic concept for me. The thought largely stems from an article I read over 30 years ago "The Origins of Predictable Behavior". As I recall, it is a largely Bayesian argument for how humans started to evolve rule. One aspect (assuming I am recalling correctly) was the rule took the entire individual calculation out of the picture: we just follow the rule and don't make any effort to optimize under certain conditions.

I don't think this is really an alternative approach -- perhaps a complementary aspect or partial element in the bigger picture.

I've tried to add a bit more but have deleted and retried now about 10 times so I think I will stop here and just think, and reread, a good bit more.

Comment by jmh on Normalization of Deviance · 2020-01-03T15:11:10.823Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I just wonder if it might be worth distinguishing between personal and social modes of this behavior. Not sure here though. Initially my thought on your first two examples were they are not really normalized deviations but simply poor discipline -- and somewhat still view them as that. The point about allowing some slack, however, is important to keep in mind here too. (Plus there are other aspects here -- like is the habit to be formed really something one wants or just thinks they should want it because its some general consensus or it works for other people).

Much of your view here does seem to apply to the environment in which I work and always find myself oscillating between thinking I need to try to help enforce the stated rule/goal/behavior and realizing it is not to be taken at face value and interpreted in a slightly different way (that would be a deviation from the ostensible policy. I find it very difficult though, it creates a lot of frustration for me and a sense of cognitive dissonance for me mentally.

Comment by jmh on Making decisions when both morally and empirically uncertain · 2020-01-03T14:38:57.643Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks and lots to think about there and it has been helpful, and I think as I digest and nibble more it will provide greater understanding.

For example, I think I'd personally find it quite plausible to take the results of (possibly normalised) MEC/MEC-E quite seriously, but to still think there's a substantial chance of unknown unknowns, making me want to combine those results with something like a "Try to avoid extremely counter-common-sense actions or extremely irreversible consequences" model.

That resonates well for me. Particularly that element of rule versus maximizing/optimized approach. Not quite sure how or where that fits -- and suspect this is a life-time effort to get close to fully working though and opportunities to subdivide areas (which then required all those "how do we classify..." aspects) effectively might be good.

With regards to rules, I think there is also something of an uncertainty reducing role in that rules will increase predictability of external actions. This is not a well thought out idea for me but seems correct, at least in a number of possible situations.

Look forward to reading more.

Comment by jmh on Making decisions when both morally and empirically uncertain · 2020-01-02T13:35:44.437Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

For my own benefit could you clarify your definition of uncertainty here?

I've always used a distinction between risk and uncertainty. Risk is a setting where one reasonably can assign/know the probability of possible outcomes.

Comment by jmh on 2020's Prediction Thread · 2020-01-01T15:57:23.581Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW
As of 1/1/30, customers will not make purchases by giving each merchant full access to a non-transaction-specific numeric string (i.e. credit cards as they are today): 70%

That certainly seems a very reasonable prediction, and perhaps too conservative. In many ways one might say that current chip based card transactions (which would also include all the mobile payments like Apple/Samsung/Google pay) have already departed that non-transaction-specific model. Similarly, for online purchases that use token technologies these are often linked to the specific merchant.

However, there might be two ways to interpret that predictions. 1) the payment mechanisms used for non-cash transactions will move towards transaction specific identifiers and cash will not be used or used significantly less than today or 2) we might see some form of transaction specific "money" (block-chain currencies seem to fit but I don't think they are the future) and more transactions are conducted as "cash" rather than using these payment card mechanisms.

Comment by jmh on 2020's Prediction Thread · 2020-01-01T01:02:58.966Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

15? More humility mostly but should probably have limited that to certain fields, such as cosmology, rather than painting with a really large brush.

As for the assessed probabilities, I can only hope you are correct.

As for the burdensome details, I'm not sure that applies (but thanks for the link and I will read it more fully and reconsider). I have reformatted the item -- whether or not that changes it being a burdensome details error....

Comment by jmh on AI Alignment, Constraints, Control, Incentives or Partnership? · 2019-12-31T17:28:09.978Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW
Are these buckets based on the incentivizing of humans by either punishment or reward?

Perhaps, though not intentionally.

Then figure out how to build that. Build an AI that just intrinsically wants to help humanity, not one constantly trying and failing to escape your chains or grasp your prizes.

I would put "intrinsically wants to help" in bucket two (or perhaps say that is bucket 2) while "chains" would be bucket 1. But those are very general concepts and will rely on various mechanisms or implementations.

Your comment seems to suggest that bucket 1 is useless and full of holes and no one is pursuing that path. Is that the case?

Comment by jmh on Speaking Truth to Power Is a Schelling Point · 2019-12-31T17:00:33.924Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Another possible implication might be incentives towards defining organizational mission in ways that effectively make the problematic truths "out of mission" so purely private views. Then the truth sayer will only be speaking as an individual -- which could perhaps have them moved out of membership if it the actions were to disrupt the organizational mission. Or simply remove them from any protections some group membership might have otherwise provided.

Comment by jmh on Why is the mail so much better than the DMV? · 2019-12-31T15:37:45.629Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

"subjective experience of having to pay money to be treated badly"

Is this perhaps a bias view? I'm thinking about the reactions (I think this was documented but don't have links to provide) to airline that were pricing for bags and, I think. even meals. This actually made it cheaper for many to fly but everyone hated having the line item pricing model compared to the bundled (and so largely hidden) pricing model.

To be honest, I'm not even sure I know how to price any consumption of public service beyond the directly observable but will not include portion of my tax paid in (though I suppose I could figure out something there).

Comment by jmh on 2020's Prediction Thread · 2019-12-31T14:52:21.942Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

1) The global multilateral political and economic institutions fail and relationships return to more bi-lateral and regional based systems largely replaces it. Not that something like the UN disappears only that it merely serves as a location for discussion but not seen (which is clearly is not even now) any type of global government with any authority over the member states. 70%

2) A second global financial crisis of larger scale than 2007-2009 period. 50%

3) North Korea recognized as a nuclear state. (20 - 30%). Resulting in the effective abandonment of the current non-proliferation agreements. (20%). Followed by the complete abandonment of all arms limitation agreements and the development of even more destructive weapons (to counter the growing nuclear threats). (80% -- this is already occurring)

4) A military strike on North Korea or Iran to clearly deter or eliminate the nuclear proliferation. (60%)

5) First global was of the 21st Century (possibly sparked by 4). 40%

6) South Korea and Philippines change alliance from USA to China and support it's 9 dash line claims. Taiwan war with mainland China. 35%

7) Hot, but limited war between China and USA resulting in an internal Civil War in mainland China driven by Muslim revolt in north-western China, Taiwan & Hong Kong and economic interests in southern China. (40%) China then must concede on its 9-dash line claim (50%) and recognize Taiwan's independence (coupled with Taiwan halting any support for revolts in southern mainland China) (25%) to sign peace agreement with USA. (25%). New/stronger economic & political relationships formed with Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Japan, South Korea resulting in significant isolation of China from trade and production relationships with rest of the world. (35%) (End result here is much stronger ASEAN member economies and them becoming the gate keepers as it were to economic relations with the mainland China economy.)

8) EU either falls completed apart as a political union (but remains a close, largely open and free trade union) (40%) or fully integrates into a federation of member states under a common federal government. (35%)

9) Some country severs political ties with communist China due to both its political subterfuge and its economic threats/response and the actions of its citizens residing in other countries (such as Canada or Australia)) who insist on imposing the Chinese view of thing on local populations -- primarily violent reactions by Chinese nationals to legal free speech and criticism of CCP policies. (50%) May result in a domino effect.

10) Humans living on the moon. (90%)

11) Space economy (think resource mining and manufacturing) at or above break even. (70%)

12) First interstellar ship launch to conduct research designed specifically for extra-solar system research. (Voyager doesn't count. 80%)

13) Limited nuclear weapons (tactical) use become normal. (10%)

14) Aliens decide the galaxy has a better use for the space our solar system occupies and builds a super highway though it, destroying all human civilization. (1%)

15) The scientific community finally acknowledges we know very little about how the universe works and that we're better describes as being infants in a crib trying to make sense of the room we're in and barely able to see the larger world outside that room. (1%) (Which is not to say we cannot do lots of very useful things with the limited and incomplete knowledge we have.)

16) Cheap energy is developed and a transition plan for replacing all the existing social and economic structure built around expensive energy implemented leading to a rethink about property rights in many items and how we product and exchange -- and work. (5%) Will lead to greater autarky at smaller levels reducing some of the scarcity driven conflict in the world. (10% -- assuming cheap energy is realized and not stifled/withheld).

17) We move away from an intrusive advertising based payment approach for many of the online services/tools allowing increased protection of privacy and people in general. Advertising might still be better targeted but the repositories of the data change (perhaps become privately/individually held). Perhaps moving from a push type delivery model to that of pull. (15%)

Comment by jmh on Why is the mail so much better than the DMV? · 2019-12-30T15:04:13.236Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Except most people use email, SMS and various social media tools, and simply use phone services (for instances various IP-based cheap services or free calling via Skype, Messenger or Viber and others) for what first class letters used to be used for.

Legal documents can use the non-USPS carrier services or email PFD documents (or use one of the online secure tools for signing).

I would add, that while I still have to stand in line at the DMV (the very few times I need to be there) the service has gotten a lot better than say 20 years ago -- both in terms of just attitude and time -- and it offers an online service for a number of things as well.

Yes, a lot of the US policy and regulatory space has to balance the rural-urban mix and given the size of the country that probably means higher costs relative to most European settings.

Comment by jmh on Perfect Competition · 2019-12-30T13:56:50.164Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Zvi, okay, I'm seeing the discussion much better (I think). I still don't think it is a correct position -- economic profits and their pursuit as only one of the margins humans will maximize on so other values will also persist. But this is perhaps something of biased view for me. I came to the view long ago that some see economics as explaining all human and social actions, which I reject. I think this discussion seems to include that underlying assumption/belief (economics encompasses all that is human/social).

Still, I suspect there are still some interesting thought to be expressed and discussions about how we think about the world and it's workings. I just hope the economic models and metaphors don't hide too much that is important.

I did enjoy your parenthetical comment! lol.

Comment by jmh on Moloch Hasn’t Won · 2019-12-29T16:50:27.329Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

One of the recent "cultural" themes being pushed by company I work in is very similar. Basically, if someone critiques you and shows you where you made the mistake, or simply notes a mistake was made, they just gave you a gift, don't get mad or defensive.

I think there is a lot of truth to that.

My phase is "own your mistakes". Meaning, acknowledge and learn from.

So, I fully agree with your general point. Accidents and mistakes should never be pure loss settings. And, in some cases they can lead to net positive benefits (and we're probably done even need to consider those "I was looking for X but found Y and Y is really, really good/beneficial/productive/cost saving/life saving....)

Comment by jmh on Perfect Competition · 2019-12-29T16:44:08.088Z · score: 9 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Can one even make the claim that perfect competition, and so P = MC obtains, mathematically proves all value is destroyed? I must be missing something but what happened to all that inframarginal value -- basically all the consumer and producer surplus? It's not like we're talking about flat MC curves and some type of point/fixed Q demand.

Comment by jmh on Moloch Hasn’t Won · 2019-12-28T17:37:58.844Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Some day I might go read the background here.

I do wonder if the old saying about evil triumphing only if good people stay quiet doesn't apply. Perhaps that is the source of all those unfortunate accidents Elua enjoys. But that is a pretty weak thesis. What might the model be that gets us some ratios related to number of good, bad and indifferent and perhaps a basic human trait about feeling better inside if we don't do bad. That last bit then allows a large number in the group be indifferent but display a propensities more aligned with Elua than Moloch.

There also seems to be (assuming I actually get the whole map-territory view right) an analytical concern. Perfect competitions is a fiction made up to allow the nice pictures to be drawn on the chalkboard. They are maps, and rather poor, simplistic ones at that, rather than the underlying territory. Seems like Moloch is given power based on the map rather than the underlying territory. Perhaps that is why you offered the technical note so look forward to where you take that. I suppose one path might be to suggest the accidents are not so accidental or surprising.

Comment by jmh on What spiritual experiences have you had? · 2019-12-28T01:15:36.431Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I can think of three types of experiences I've had over my life that might be described as spiritual or mystical.

One long ago, and certainly drug related (grew up in the late 60s and 70s). The experience was essentially an "out of body" experience. I was floating in space, somewhere like the orbit of Saturn or Jupiter. I was being told, if I wanted it I would be given absolute power on earth -- I would have everything I wanted. My response was No. I did not want that type of power. I only wanted control and power over myself and my decisions. Make was you will about the "vision" and the whole temptation theme but that was really when I realized who I wanted to be at a fundamental level and what type or relationship I wanted with the rest of the world. I wanted to be me and to let others be themselves.

In general I have been rather lucky. I have been quite a few situations were things could have gone really poorly for me, like not being alive. I've never been seriously hurt. After one of the accidents I was several people kept asking my how I was not hurt or dead after seeing the car I was in. I have frequently had the feeling that something is watching over me. I can accept that as just lucky, in instinctive in terms on understanding dynamic forces so just know to position myself in a good orientation to deflect more than absorb the shocks.

Lastly, now and then when I'm thinking about "big thoughts" like meaning of life, is there something more like some god and what exactly that might be (I don't buy into the formal conception of god that Christians, Jews or Muslims seem to have ) I sometimes feels I've touched on something and get sensation that is like s an energy passing through me or that perhaps I am passing through some energy barrier. It's a bit hard to explain but clearly could simply be some neurological sensation (What was that line from A Christmas Carol, "You might be nothing but a piece of the lamb chop I ate for dinner." -- probably not accurate) However, I really cannot say I find such an explanation any more convincing. I'm comfortable living with things like this unexplained for now.

Comment by jmh on Might humans not be the most intelligent animals? · 2019-12-24T15:07:47.932Z · score: 5 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Well, that might be true of human language -- though I'm not sure about the case of sign language for apes in captivity. Part of the problem is the physiological ability to make the sounds needed for human language. The other species simply lack that ability for the most part.

But how about flipping that view. Has any human been able to learn any language any other species might use? Sea mammals (dolphin, whales) appear to have some form of vocal communications. Similarly, I've at least heard stories that wolves also seem to communicate. Anecdotally, I have witnessed what I would take as an indication of communication between two of the dogs we used to have.

My hypothesis might be somewhat along the line of most social/pack animals will have some communication mechanisms, for many that will likely be auditory but perhaps in some settings the non-"verbal" might dominate[1], that is, some level of language. Until we have the ability to establish that one way or another we probably need to keep an open mind on these types of questions (level of intelligence and cross species comparisons.

[1] For instance, do octopi have the ability to communicate with one another visually.

Note -- I'm using communicate to indicate more than merely signally some state -- aggressive, wary/threatened, sexually active/interested. Until we could decode such communications we will not really be able to say anything about the level of information exchanges or the underlying thinking, if any, associated with it.

Comment by jmh on Might humans not be the most intelligent animals? · 2019-12-24T14:49:17.918Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

My understanding is that the domestication has also produced animals that are mentally more juvenile than their wild counter part. Someone made that point a bit earlier about the difference between wolves and domesticated dogs.

If that is the case it may not be that the domestic animals are really any smarter or better selected to understand human signals but more about its more subservient mental state along with more exposure/practice.

Comment by jmh on If Antarctic became hospitable to humans, and consequently received a mass migration, what are likely ways the Antarctic legal system could evolve? · 2019-12-22T15:51:51.521Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Not sure if you have already seen these, and I have not read carefully so am not entirely sure where the current views fully stand, which would clearly have implications should the area become habitable.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Territorial_claims_in_Antarctica

https://coolantarctica.com/Antarctica%20fact%20file/science/government_antarctica.php

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antarctic_Treaty_System

However, these do seem to suggest that there would be an existing governance in place -- either with the continent divided and most of it subject to the legal jurisdiction of the territorial claimant or the group of countries signing the Antarctic Treaty (apparently 54).

A quick guess would be that the larger treaty related to environment protections and no military would govern a lot of what any future migrants could do there while immigration into specific territories likely government but the country having claimed territorial sovereignty.

Comment by jmh on What could a World Unification Index track to measure how unified the world is, was, and is becoming? · 2019-12-22T14:46:38.323Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think a careful definition of just what unification will mean in this context. Based on a number of the metrics you list we could view just about every empire as a form/attempt of world unification. But that view strikes me as being very different from a world where people are freely moving and interacting with one another on a peaceful and largely voluntary basis.

I think the other important question here might be the end point -- what is such an index telling us or to be used for.

My view is that a fully unified world, on pretty much any definition I can think about, is unstable. So if the goal were to maximize the unification index that might be a very bad plan. If it was used to start tracking where we might start seeing increased tensions that might lead to increased global conflict/world war type outcomes perhaps it becomes a useful tool.

Of course, that is in the abstract as I'm not sure just how such an index would be assembled or over what time periods any given construction would be valid.

Comment by jmh on [Personal Experiment] One Year without Junk Media · 2019-12-16T15:57:41.736Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

"Movies and television is allowed but only from certain websites."

Curious, would you share which sites are considered acceptable, or perhaps just what the common characteristic might be?

For completely different reasons than your I now basically consume movies and TV from 3 sites. One is Formula 1 and their allowing the streaming service was one of the reasons I finally dropped cable/FiOS TV.

Comment by jmh on Elon Musk is wrong: Robotaxis are stupid. We need standardized rented autonomous tugs to move customized owned unpowered wagons. · 2019-12-13T16:44:51.624Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Not wrong I think, as most others do as well it appears. But I think it better seen (as others note) as a good insight that has a place in the large mix rather than as some complete alternative to the current thoughts.

That seems to be a fairly normal trajectory for innovations -- they need to work at the edges. So the autonomous vehicles get started in places like mining where it's a more controlled and limited setting or factory floors. Slowly they can move to broader application, truck fleets (while I've not heard of them I would think something like patrol boats for customs would be something of a no brainer) and then into things like moving people via taxis.

I think the idea of separating the engine for the compartment just works into that a bit more slowly as the applications (an standards for coupling) get worked out. I would think the coupling aspect might be the area to start working on as that doesn't seem like it's on anyone's radar (though perhaps research in mining and rail yard areas might show something) but might dovetail well with existing plans - such as taxis. For instance, with urban travel (and perhaps even more so in suburban, not sure) it is likely that trips originating at one location, or even along a common path, could be more efficiently services even when the end destinations are vastly different with one taxi engine for part of the trip then one of more of the passenger containers disconnected at some point to where another taxi picks it up for the next led. Probably good logistic support could be found with rail management tools for starting points.

Comment by jmh on Dublin SSC Meetup - Death and Self · 2019-12-13T16:18:53.020Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Sounds like a great place for some interesting discussion.

Comment by jmh on Applications of Economic Models to Physiology? · 2019-12-13T16:13:38.852Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks, and I seem to have come across as more critical/confrontational than I actually felt (so seemed to have been demanding some defense from you - sorry). My intent was to better tease out what type of questions you might be asking and hoping to answer. I understand your thinking and motivation bit better now.

Comment by jmh on Bayesian examination · 2019-12-12T17:17:37.327Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It has been interesting reading the discussion here. I ultimately realized that for the most part this is exactly how I went about taking tests. If I know the answer to a questions I often did not even look at the other answers. When I was not sure I would evaluate to answers to identify what I could rule out and then, sometime, have to flip the mental coin.

Comment by jmh on Applications of Economic Models to Physiology? · 2019-12-12T14:30:21.557Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

This is a bit tongue in cheek but " There's a dog in the picture. Once you see the dog, there's still a lot going on in the picture, but the whole thing makes a lot more sense. " suggests we should not be taking pictures of dalmatians with high contrast black and white films ;-)

At the same time I think that does get to the core of the discussion, for me at least. High contrast images are really good for certain things, no so much in other settings. So while economic concepts may shed some light on yet unanswered questions -- or perhaps merely suggest questions we have not yet thought about due to framing type blinders -- I think one needs to tread carefully.

I do agree with your, and ChristianKI's, position that some of the underlying economic concepts, theoretical at least, may actually be wheels we can put on another cart and make some progress. But from that perspective it's really just the abstract math model and not really economics. I do think using existing wheels is often a pretty good idea. But I also think periodically reinventing the existing wheels is also a pretty good idea too.

So here would be more specific questions I have about the general idea:

1) With pricing I'm not convinced by your answer that we really get anything more, even if the additional properties are really anything more than terminological differences from any other signally mechanism. Nor am I really seeing what more we're learning or can learn with the change to the economic price model here. What new insights are expected here -- or what can the current model approach not tell us but that seem to be rather important?

Some other observations. Insulin as a price is problematic to me on two counts. First, even taking it as such it seems to get us a partial equilibrium model at best so tells us very little about the overall state of the system. Second, it's not clear to me just what type of price it would be. It's not like a dollar price where we see the underlying monetary unit as common across all the local prices. Insulin is one of the many hormones in the human body and we don't seem to have a common unit that would underlie all the hormonal signaling mechanisms. If so then that price will be more along the line of a barter market "price".

I think a lot of people lose sight of what prices are and see them purely as a signalling device (the Hayakian information signals in society) but prices are both signalling devices and rationing devices. Is the idea to looks at the relative prices within a body and induce rationing on consumption of certain resources and the increased production of other resources?

2) Discount rates. I cannot really think of a good use here, even if we can (easily I suspect) calculate such a rate. The implication is see is that those with more fat should have a lower discount rate for future energy meaning they save more. But is that a really good description of the amount of fat more people have? I would think a better description might be trash we're unable to dispose of fast enough so it's just pilling up on the streets and empty fields. Still, you might be seeing a number of things I'm not.

3) When thinking about economic processes and physiological process how do things like , production possibility frontiers or scarcity compare? Is the body's normal state of operation one of scarcity or perhaps non-scarcity? Does it the body always operate on it's PPF? If we're not in a state of scarcity will the economic concepts (which I would to some extent separate from the underlying math) that all derive entirely from that starting point really apply?

I do think the ideas of always moving towards some equilibrium state, and generally never actually being at the point, applies to both settings. On that basis I might see where cross pollination might be good -- but I still don't quite see a benefit to adopting any of the terminology and resulting mental imagery will help and have certain fears it will mislead.


Comment by jmh on Applications of Economic Models to Physiology? · 2019-12-11T14:20:12.531Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Like one of the comments below I am a bit skeptical. However, I would be curious to learn more about the motivation to apply this type of analysis for physiology.

Comment by jmh on Anti-social Punishment · 2019-12-09T13:27:10.055Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'll lump two thoughts in here -- one relates to SilentCat the other elsewhere but...

Like others I think this is a great insight and should be looked at by the authors, or other interested social scientists. I think it relates to a question I ask myself from time to time, though generally don't get too far in answering. Where do we draw the line between public and private spheres of action?

I don't think that is a fixed/static division over time and seems to have important implication for public policy. I'm tempted to say it might with the above proposed efficiency division. I'm not sure though.

The over-all results and some of the other comments also made me wonder if history -- particularly as most of these locations seem to have been former USSR members. I'm just wondering if perhaps the culture legacy would support the behavior if innocent people were just as likely to be punished for what might be actions of other attempting to make everyone's lives better (but often I suspect viewed as a threat to the authorities and government powers).

Comment by jmh on Affordance Widths · 2019-12-05T14:22:39.442Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

" One reason I don't like your graph is that I have no idea how to suffer both X and Y at the same time, for the same action. I don't know how a single action can be both too assertive and too weak, as in your example. "

I would think the 1960s and the Civil Rights movement would provide a good case study here. Black/African American leaders seemed to be faced with that dilemma -- the nonviolent view was often seen as passive and ineffective but the threat of violence, much less actual violence, would also be criticized. I think it is inherent in social settings where some form or group affiliation is clear but the group itself covers various factions.

Perhaps the events in Hong Kong over the past 6 month would fit into this analysis as well.

Comment by jmh on Affordance Widths · 2019-12-05T14:15:57.768Z · score: 8 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It does make sense and I like the visual presentation of the situation as well.

One thing I would also mention, given we're talking about social interactions and behaviors, is that we might not just want to see {B} as the causal source of {X} or {Y}.

I do think that we can consider {B} as a multi-margin type observation-- so we don't get to just look at some metric call amount but also need to look at some qualitative aspect, how {B} is done. I think that is in line with the comment below about being assertive without domineering being a learned skill as much as just learning to be assertive.

But I think {X} and {Y} also need to be put in that social behavior space where we need to learn how to do those as well. If so we might see that David and Edgar's dilemma is less about the amount of {B} they do or quality/how they do {B} but perhaps more about how the culture or society related to those two. Is it really {B} that is driving the response? If not are those {X} and {Y} appropriate or correct responses to David or Edgar doing {B}?

Comment by jmh on Symbiotic Wars · 2019-12-04T16:49:36.957Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

" The Cold War meme died when the divide between Capitalism and Communism ceased to be meaningful. The Chinese Communist Party manages the world's largest capitalist economy. "

Neither of these claims really seems to be correct to me. They strike me more a memenic statement than a true representation of history or the state of the world today.

I do agree that the terms socialism, capitalism and communism all are poorly defined and enjoy a lot of equivicational use where speakers are talking past one another.

I would say the cold war meme "died" not due to labels having meaning or clearly separating form of governance but because the "radical" communist disappear -- by that I mean the communist regimes (USSR, primarily, and China) both stopped acting in as empires bent on extending imperial reach and dominance and expanding their borders.

Comment by jmh on Is the rate of scientific progress slowing down? (by Tyler Cowen and Ben Southwood) · 2019-12-03T16:58:18.353Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

TFP may be a proxy for scientific progress but I'm not sure it really captures that cleanly. I think if on tosses in the lens of external economies of scale (think network type effects or Smithian type division of labor and wealth of nations) then I think the mental image of "scientific progress" most hold in their heads doesn't quite fit. I think much of that then is more viewed as improved management or coordination or resources.

The question, at least to me, then is do we want to lump the knowledge on how we combine existing resources into "science" or something else. The case can be made either way but I think it needs to be made explicitly.

Comment by jmh on Why aren't assurance contracts widely used? · 2019-12-01T14:08:35.908Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Perhaps one way of looking at this is:

1) Assurance contracts have been used in the past, just in a non-obvious way. The type of collective actions problems being solved traditionally have been via government or clubs and other, non-collective action/public good type settings by things like escrow type solutions.

2) Until the internet and this form of mass communication/connect emerged the "problem" was not the assurance of commitment to contribute but the problem of cost in coordinating any such effort. The "fixed" costs of just proposing a solution and gathering a bunch of people to take action dominated and most of the big issues were being addressed by existing institutions.

Comment by jmh on Open-Box Newcomb's Problem and the limitations of the Erasure framing · 2019-11-29T19:41:04.459Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I did a quick search but didn't find any nuggets so perhaps someone here might know. What is the back story here, why was the problem even constructed?

Comment by jmh on Is daily caffeine consumption beneficial to productivity? · 2019-11-28T00:24:22.093Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

misread and though you were saying the caffeine was suppressing -- not that it was preventing the suppression!

Comment by jmh on Is daily caffeine consumption beneficial to productivity? · 2019-11-26T23:38:45.214Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The answer there might also depend on how we're defining productivity.

I was reading some links earlier about longevity and biological processes/genetic processes (if that makes any sense...) that were linking neurological over-activity (which seems to be neurons being electrically active even when not really doing anything) to shorter lives and more rapid aging.

If caffeine serves to dampen down unnecessary activity that might lead to slower aging (ability to be more productive at a given age) and living longer so more total productivity.

re SatvikBeri's wiki observations, does that sound like a training rats to go 3 doors down type setting?

Comment by jmh on Can you eliminate memetic scarcity, instead of fighting? · 2019-11-26T12:57:57.317Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I liked this post as well. To me it's done a great job of providing an operational form to the old saying about thinking out side the box. In just about all the examples it seems that the conflict occurs because people have boxed themselves into a framework of seeing the situation where they focused on the constraints and could not see where the opportunities to solve the dispute, contradiction or impasse exist.


Comment by jmh on What makes a good life? This is my map. · 2019-11-24T17:07:51.942Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'll start with these comments are not well thought out or organized in the written statements. Much more of a reaction (hopefully not too "knee-jerky")

I think a number of other comments have touched on similar thoughts as I have. What I struggle a bit with, and it might be purely how things are expressed, is the end goal bit. I really don't know how I would evaluate Maximum Well-being. Part of that is I see all the actions of getting there to be dynamic (actions) while the goal seems to be a final state.

But even if I think of the end goal in a more dynamic setting (max well-being today, what I think that should be tomorrow or next year) I still struggle a bit with how I would even know I achieved that goal.

That might be me though. It is true that I am pretty happy with where I am with my life, I certainly don't have any significant material worries (no debt, good income, good savings and net worth). I don't have to concern myself with any type of real budgeting my life. I am not an overly social person but do have a group of people I interact with socially and can turn to for emotional/mental support. I have a long term relationship but not without its challenges so have the feeling I am needed and supporting.

Still, I would not say I have reached some maximum; I still want. This is true even though I can see myself as successful, or what others would say is successful, in my efforts. Once I get to a certain point of success I start getting bored and look for other things.

So for me the end goal is in fact an ongoing set of doing new things. But I don't see that I could evaluate any "max" based on something like number of new efforts that were achieved to the level I was interested in reaching.

Another aspect that I wondered about was that bit about journeys versus end points -- enjoy the ride as much as the destination type view. That doesn't seem to fit the model described. So there may be more interaction between end goal and process of reaching the end goal than suggested in the model. I"m not sure if the "when life gives you lemons make lemon aide" fits in this area or deserves separate consideration but I think it should fit somewhere -- and for me would be important as I do value new experiences that cross my path and interrupt any routine, and sometimes point me in a completely new direction.

Last, regardless of whether or not I consider the end goal as some static or dynamic "equilibrium" I've achieve how do I know if it is a local or global one. Or, what weight should I place on the mistakes or paths I've taken in the past that have perhaps locked me out of other paths I would like to be on at a later point in life. How would we evaluate things, or even should we, in a retrospective view?

As a side note, not sure if this will fit in your thinking or if you can even locate the article (I don't know if it was ever published), but one of the econ profs at GMU presented a paper at a brown-bag lunch back in the earlyish 1990s about nonconvex utility function and addiction. It was a case of local versus global maximization but one could argue perfectly efficient (per economic criteria) and rational. The prof was David Levy. I think the question about how one might check if they have convex or non-convex utility functions might be an interesting personal exploration.