Comment by jobe_smith on How do you approach the problem of social discovery? · 2014-04-25T18:44:16.027Z · LW · GW

When you say that it pays off, is the main benefit just the pleasure you get from having lots of friends and social interactions, or are there actually substantial tangible benefits? Do you think you could reproduce all the tangible benefits with an extra $10K/year of income, or is it worth a lot more than that? I am curious because I have often felt like people who are good with people and know a lot of people should have a substantial advantage over someone like me, who is terrible with people. But then in practice I don't really see it.

Comment by jobe_smith on Open thread, 21-27 April 2014 · 2014-04-25T17:39:26.036Z · LW · GW

I have suffered from social anxiety continuously and depression off and on since childhood. I've sought treatment that included talk therapy and medication. Currently I am doing EMDR therapy which may or may not end up being helpful, but I don't expect it to work miracles. Everyone in my immediate family has had similar issues throughout their lives. I feel your pain. Despite not being perfect and being in therapy, I feel like my life is going pretty well. Here is what has worked for me:

Acceptance: Not everyone can be or should be the life of the party. Being quiet or reserved or shy is a perfectly acceptable way to live your life. You can still work on becoming comfortable in more social situations but you are fine right now. There are plenty of people who will like you just as you are, even if you social skills are far from perfect. Harsh self-judgement can make anxiety worse and lead to procrastination and depression. What I try to do as best I can is to just do whatever I feel like in the moment, and just let the world correct me. I try not to develop too many theories about how the world will react to me since I know from experience that those theories will be biased and pessimistic.

Decide what you want from the world: I guess this is somewhat generic life advice, but it has really worked for me. I decided fairly early on what I wanted to get from the social world. I wanted 3 things.

  • marriage
  • children
  • a good career

Deciding those things, I plugged away at getting them. I was completely incompetent at talking to women but with some help from e-harmony I found one who I was able to be comfortable with and who liked me. We got married 6.5 years ago and we have a 2 year old daughter and another child on the way. Professionally, I found a career that involves a minimum of politicking and no customer interaction. And yet it is both intellectually satisfying and highly remunerative. Even though neither my home life nor my professional life are perfect, achieving my basic life goals has given me a deep feeling of confidence and satisfaction that I can use to counter feelings of anxiety and depression as they come.

Each step I took along the path towards my goals gave me more confidence to move forward, but that confidence wasn't necessarily automatic. I have to periodically brag to myself about myself because otherwise I will naturally focus on my failures and weaknesses and start to feel like a loser. You should be very proud of your accomplishments in college. Most people could not do what you have done. Remind yourself of that. Feel good about yourself.

Comment by jobe_smith on What is the most anti-altruistic way to spend a million dollars? · 2014-04-01T14:38:45.264Z · LW · GW

I think that LWers assign a much higher probability to a FOOM scenario that most people. Most people probably wouldn't assign much value to an AI that just seeks to maximize the number of paperclips in the universe, and continuously attempts to improve its ability to make that goal happen. Someone could build something like that expecting that its abilities would level off pretty quickly, and be badly wrong.

Comment by jobe_smith on What is the most anti-altruistic way to spend a million dollars? · 2014-03-25T13:41:16.445Z · LW · GW

Another idea: One of the great anti-utilitarian movements of our time has been the anti-vaccine movement. In that vain, how about setting up an anti-bed net advocacy group to argue that the children of Africa are being poisoned by chemical laden bed nets, and a charity that will collect and dispose of bed nets that are currently in use in Africa. I'm sure there must be a celebrity that would endorse such a charity. Snookie hasn't been doing much lately!

Comment by jobe_smith on What is the most anti-altruistic way to spend a million dollars? · 2014-03-25T13:31:44.788Z · LW · GW

I have to say i don't get why so many of the comments on this are negative. Surely, if there was a completely legal way to inflict great harm on humanity for only $1Million then there are a ton of people/groups with the desire and resources to do those things. The idea that anyone with the desire to implement these things will learn about them first on LessWrong seems ludicrous to me.

Anyway, here is an idea:

  1. Offer a $1Million prize for a working self-improving paper-clip maximizing AI. I think that this is very unlikely to produce anything, but since it is a prize you don't have to actually pay it out until someone builds a UFAI that destroys the universe. If no one seems to be working on it, you can always rescind the prize and move on to another evil scheme. I guess the downside would be if somebody accidentally made a friendly AI while trying to win the prize.
Comment by jobe_smith on What legal ways do people make a profit that produce the largest net loss in utility? · 2014-03-25T12:36:28.886Z · LW · GW

Gold mining. Adding marginal ounces of gold to world supply adds very little utility because gold can be pretty much endlessly reused and there is plenty of it around that has already been mined. Central banks of fiat currencies sit on many years supply for no particularly good reason. Meanwhile, the industry consumes $billions annually of real resources (like fossil fuels and capital equipment) and produce pollution and environmental damage.

Comment by jobe_smith on Lifestyle interventions to increase longevity · 2014-02-27T15:44:13.208Z · LW · GW

That's a good question. What if it turned out that laughing maniacally after committing an act of villainy was the healthiest of all? Would that change people's views about altruism?

Comment by jobe_smith on The innovation tree, overshadowed in the innovation forest · 2014-02-26T14:51:44.505Z · LW · GW

Like actually for free? Not many. Almost everything either requires me to be exposed to ads or to purchase something to be able to consume it. There is a free newspaper where I live, but that has ads. To access the internet I need to buy some sort of device and then pay someone for access to the internet. I can get internet for free in certain businesses or public places (libraries I guess), but in the case of libraries they are supported by tax dollars and the cost is part of GDP. For businesses, providing free wifi is a good way to get people in the door and/or sticking around to consume more overpriced coffee or whatever. So, none of these things are free. Certainly not more free than radio or TV were in the 20th century. The internet isn't even more free than cable TV since both require ongoing payments in addition to buying the initial device.

That isn't to say that I don't feel like i am getting a good deal. I certainly do feel like a lot of things on the internet are good deals. But so what? a lot of things in real life are good deals also. Do internet/tech related businesses create more consumer surplus per dollar of revenue generated than more traditional businesses? I have no idea, but I'm confident that I can't figure it out just by thinking about how amazing things are today.

Comment by jobe_smith on Innovation's low-hanging fruits: on the demand or supply sides? · 2014-02-25T18:24:31.784Z · LW · GW

But the flush toilet can only be invented once. We might have access to talking super toilets with multi-coloured fountains - but all the bells and whistles are less useful that the original flushing toilet aspect.

how about a teleporter combined with a toilet. It could sit somewhere in your house, scanning your bladder and colon periodically, and then removing accumulated waste without you having to do anything. While it is doing that it could also remove any viral particles or unhealthy bacteria from your bloodstream, excess ear wax, unwanted body hair, tumors, arterial plaques, unpleasant memories, etc. THAT would be a real innovation!

Comment by jobe_smith on The innovation tree, overshadowed in the innovation forest · 2014-02-25T18:18:43.875Z · LW · GW

The argument that innovation has slowed is pretty simple. In the developed world, per capita output has to be driven by innovation. To some extent people can work harder, but that's pretty limited. We can see that by the best measures we have, growth of per capita output has been slowing since the 70s and especially since 2000. That means that innovation is slowing. The counter argument is that the best methods of measuring output aren't good enough, and that the newer forms of innovations are not captured as well as older forms of innovation. I guess that's possible, but its not obvious. After all a lot of tech companies are worth a lot of money.

Comment by jobe_smith on Identity and Death · 2014-02-18T16:05:10.039Z · LW · GW

I think that most people are able to at least implicitly bite the bullet of continuous personal change. And that is why they apply some reasonable temporal discounting. Here is an SMBC that explains the basic concept. One of the very weird things about LWers is their aversion to discounting. Eliezer even wrote an emotional post about it once. Normal people can discount the preferences of their futures selves, current others and future others in a way that saves them a lot of ethical/philosophical headaches.

Comment by jobe_smith on Open Thread for February 11 - 17 · 2014-02-14T14:40:20.651Z · LW · GW

I would solicit bids from the two groups. I imagine that the 3^^^3 people would be able to pay more to save their lives than the 1 person would be able to pay to avoid infinite torture. Plus, once I make the decision, if I sentence the 1 person to infinite torture I only have to worry about their friends/family and I have 3^^^3 allies who will help defend me against retribution. Otherwise, the situation is reversed and I think its likely I'll be murdered or imprisoned if I kill that many people. Of course, if the scenario is different, like the 3^^^3 people are in a different galaxy (not that that many people could fit in a galaxy) and the 1 person is my wife, I'll definitely wipe out all those assholes to save my wife. I'd even let them all suffer infinite torture just to keep my wife from experiencing a dust speck in her eye. It is valentine's day after all!

Comment by jobe_smith on Open Thread for February 11 - 17 · 2014-02-14T14:12:57.731Z · LW · GW

In general, picking the highest EV option makes sense, but in the context of what sounds like a stupid/lazy economics experiment, you have a moral duty to do the wrong thing. Perhaps you could have flipped a coin twice to choose among the first 4 options? That way you are providing crappy/useless data and they have to pay you for it!

Comment by jobe_smith on AALWA: Ask any LessWronger anything · 2014-02-12T20:22:20.737Z · LW · GW

Do you trade your own capital or 100% firm capital?

I trade 100% firm capital, not my own. I've heard of bright and places like that but there are lots of real prop trading firms, that actually make their money from trading. Here are some I can think of off the top of my head:

  • Getco
  • Virtu
  • DRW
  • Allston
  • Ronin
  • HTG
  • Chopper
  • Sun
  • Optiver
  • Tower Research
  • Teza
  • Wolverine
  • Marquette Partners
  • Jump
  • Eagle 7
  • Peak 6


Comment by jobe_smith on AALWA: Ask any LessWronger anything · 2014-02-12T20:12:06.047Z · LW · GW

I think you are correct about what prop trading firms do, but I am not so pessimistic about the prognosis for retail investors. I don't think retail investors can compete with professional prop traders at what they do, but I think that they can do better than just sticking their money in index funds, at least on a risk adjusted basis.

Comment by jobe_smith on Finance as a career option · 2014-02-12T15:18:15.376Z · LW · GW

I have a few thoughts on this:

  1. The way to get into finance is to go to a top college and major in either business, economics a hard science or engineering discipline. There are people who take other paths, but that's the main way to go. Financial firms are typically not overly concerned about specific college majors. I personally did Physics + Econ, but Comp Sci + Econ would have worked just as well. The point is that you can pick a major that is valuable outside of finance and still pursue a job in finance. That way, if finance doesn't work out you will still be fine.

  2. You don't generally go to business school straight out of college. Typically, you work for a few years first. So, the "sunk cost" of a finance career is only the cost of college. That compares favorably with being a doctor or lawyer, and is similar to becoming a software developer or something like that.

  3. If you can get an elite finance job (like analyst at Goldman) straight out of college, it will look good on your resume no matter what you do afterwords. If you can't get an elite finance job, but can get some sort of finance job, things change a bit because different areas of finance have different levels of transferability of skills. If you go into a particular niche and then wash out of it or just want to do something else, you might find that your experience is not that valuable.

  4. My particular niche in finance (trading) has fairly crappy transferability of skills. What I do does not teach a lot of general "business" or management skills. There are 2 ways to deal with this issue. One is to only go into trading if you are very confident that it is your true calling. That way, being able to do something else is a moot point. The other is to start out as a quant or programmer. Learning how to program and how to do data analysis are very valuable skills in lots of fields. Finance is one of the best paying fields for programmers and working as a programmer will allow you see how trading works. A lot of traders worked as programmers first. Here is an article about it that features a friend of mine.

  5. I am not a huge fan of "earning to give" and I'm not sure that finance is the best place to engage in that activity anyway.If you want to save lives you could become a doctor and save lives all day and still make enough money to donate to saving more lives. Most people who succeed in finance are intensely interested in money. We have to spend all day thinking about minute details related to making money. Most of the spouses of my colleagues (including my own) have almost no understanding of what we do. They just find it too boring to think about. Having a career that you find boring is a good way to be a miserable person and mediocre at what you do.

Comment by jobe_smith on AALWA: Ask any LessWronger anything · 2014-02-12T12:41:40.077Z · LW · GW
  • More than 100% of my profit's are from market making. Overall, I lose money on my positions. For the firm as a whole, position trading might be slightly profitable.

  • I have a basic strategy that works, and I run a couple variants on that strategy on a decent number of products. I am always trying to tweak the strategy to make it better, and add more products to trade. I also put some effort into developing new ideas. Most of the time, new ideas are a waste of time. There just aren't that many fundamentally different strategies that work, and that provide the kind of risk/return profile that works in my industry. I know it is a cliche that you learn more from failure than from success, but in developing trading strategies I think the opposite is true. You can spend forever trying things that don't work. Its much more valuable to understand and refine an idea that basically works.

Comment by jobe_smith on Finance as a career option · 2014-02-10T17:01:55.162Z · LW · GW

High frequency trading is a candidate for a sector of finance that makes money through buying and selling stocks a little bit faster than others, without contributing much social value.

I think that this is a bit of a misunderstanding of what HFT does. A lot of HFT firms spend significant resources trying to be fast, but they do that because a lot of other HFT firms are also spending significant resources to be fast, and are pursuing very similar strategies. Speed is all about competing with the other trading firms, not about being quicker than end users. The strategies that HFTs are pursuing are socially valuable (typically, market-making and/or arbitrage), and they are competing along multiple dimensions, not just speed. Speed typically doesn't become important for a given strategy until competition has forced profitability per trade down to a minimal level. Once the bid-ask spread cannot get any tighter, then speed becomes an important factor but not until then and getting those spreads down is clearly valuable to end users. The pursuit of speed is "wasteful" in that it is costly and the end users don't really care about it, but the costs have to be born by the trading firms themselves. They can't pass those costs onto end users by increasing spreads because price priority beats time priority. The firm that tries to be super fast but at noncompetitive prices just won't trade.

Comment by jobe_smith on Finance as a career option · 2014-02-10T16:28:49.650Z · LW · GW

I've worked as a trader/quant/developer for coming up on 12 years. Joe Mela's post at 80,000 hours basically matches my experience. I'll also point out that a large portion of trading firms are in Chicago, where the cost of living is really not too bad.

Comment by jobe_smith on How big of an impact would cleaner political debates have on society? · 2014-02-07T18:09:07.386Z · LW · GW

Seems reasonable for general elections but what about primaries? A lot of people changed their mind about Rick Perry after his debate performances in the 2012 republican primaries. If better debates during the primaries produced better candidates from both parties, that seems like it would be a win.

Comment by jobe_smith on Rationality Quotes February 2014 · 2014-02-07T17:37:58.012Z · LW · GW

For a particular use of time to have zero opportunity cost.

Mostly when people talk about opportunity cost, they mean the cost associated with forgoing a different option. So, if you sit on your couch and watch TV you are forgoing working at Jimmy Johns for $8/hour. That's your opportunity cost. It doesn't go to 0 just because you are immortal.

But I think I know you what you mean. You want to feel like you have plenty of time to do everything or nothing. You don't want to feel constrained by a limited lifespan. If that is how you feel, then I think its more of a psychological issue and can be dealt with directly. You don't need to need to become immortal to stop worrying about not having enough time to do everything you want to do in life. You just need to stop worrying.

Comment by jobe_smith on 2013 Survey Results · 2014-01-22T16:27:20.619Z · LW · GW

I don't understand how P(Simulation) can be so much higher than P(God) and P(Supernatural). Seems to me that "the stuff going on outside the simulation" would have to be supernatural by definition. The beings that created the simulation would be supernatural intelligent entities who created the universe, aka gods. How do people justify giving lower probabilities for supernatural than for simulation?

Comment by jobe_smith on AALWA: Ask any LessWronger anything · 2014-01-16T01:26:44.884Z · LW · GW

I've worked in high frequency trading in Chicago as a trader and developer for 11.5 years. I am an expert on that stuff. AMA.

Comment by jobe_smith on AALWA: Ask any LessWronger anything · 2014-01-15T20:12:17.681Z · LW · GW

can you explain your basic business model? Also, what is the hardest part of your business and/or the biggest barrier to entry?

Comment by jobe_smith on AALWA: Ask any LessWronger anything · 2014-01-15T19:53:55.325Z · LW · GW

Have you become exceptionally good at anything, and if so what and how?

Comment by jobe_smith on AALWA: Ask any LessWronger anything · 2014-01-15T19:09:22.047Z · LW · GW
  1. What are you working on at google?

  2. How much do you earn?

  3. How much do you give, and to where?