Posts

October 2014 Bragging thread. 2014-10-07T18:20:01.177Z · score: 7 (8 votes)
[Link] Animated Video - The Useful Idea of Truth (Part 1/3) 2014-10-04T23:05:48.423Z · score: 18 (19 votes)
A Story of Kings and Spies 2014-06-11T23:54:42.282Z · score: 22 (27 votes)
[Video Link] PostHuman: An Introduction to Transhumanism 2013-11-15T02:04:56.294Z · score: 2 (5 votes)
New Monthly Thread: Bragging 2013-08-11T17:50:54.944Z · score: 30 (37 votes)

Comments

Comment by joshua_blaine on Even better cryonics – because who needs nanites anyway? · 2015-04-08T01:38:50.755Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

That's a very sound (pun partially intended) insight, and I don't immediately see a significant reason for why that shouldn't be the case.

However, humans aren't perfectly uniform spheres of water (to borrow from a common physics joke), so some concerns do still exist. Namely: Pressure might propagate through them less predictably/quickly than just water, and different areas of the body might begin freezing at different pressures/in different orders (which can, however, be countered by raising pressures quickly).

I have updated significantly in the direction of "This idea might actually be very valuable to cryonics proponents," for sure.

Comment by joshua_blaine on Even better cryonics – because who needs nanites anyway? · 2015-04-07T22:08:00.177Z · score: 18 (20 votes) · LW · GW

First off, I love that you're actively pursuing alternative methods of human preservation. That's awesome, and I hope you manage to find some useful ideas in your search. However, I fear that this approach in particular doesn't really solve the problem that cryoprotectants successfully do (toxicity briefly aside).

without cryoprotectants the water will expand upon freezing, and break the cells.

This line in particular is my biggest point of contention. I am by no means an expert in this field, and my understanding may be moot in this context, but the expansion of water-ice crystals isn't the central concern for frozen biological cells. A quickly found source claims that:

Since ice is essentially pure H2O, ice formation can increase the concentration of minerals in the remaining cytosol to a toxic level. The increased mineral concentration in the cytosol will cause water to be drawn in from the surrounding cells by osmosis, which can cause the cell to swell and burst.

Alcor's official FAQ also says that:

When tissue is slowly cooled, ice first forms between cells. The growing ice crystals increase the concentration of solutes in the remaining liquid around them, causing osmotic dehydration of cells.

Your method doesn't prevent the formation of ice crystals, it merely changes the structure of the crystals, and at what temperature they form, so I suspect harmful cell osmosis can still occur. Of course, I could be insufficiently understanding why ice crystals effect the mineral concentration of cytosol, or the order in which certain biological areas freeze under variable conditions, and your smaller ice/lower freezing temperature would successfully prevent this issue. I don't believe this is necessarily the case, given your explanation, but if anyone who's more studied in these fields could speak up, I'd be happy to defer to their expertise.

Comment by joshua_blaine on 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2014-10-28T23:09:11.789Z · score: 28 (28 votes) · LW · GW

The ritual has been completed. I await my karmic reword, as per tradition.

There was a lot of good variance in the calibration questions (for me), so nice job thinking of them! Gur ivqrb tnzr dhrfgvba va cnegvphyne fhecevfrq zr jura V ybbxrq hc gur nafjre, nf rira nf n uhtr Zvarpensg sna V unqa'g ernyvmrq vg orng bhg frpbaq cynpr ol 3 zvyyvba.

Also, in a fit of needless cleverness, I made my public key decryptable (by my private key) into a plaintext message that works as an extra layer of identification in the case that I win the money.

Comment by joshua_blaine on Happiness Logging: One Year In · 2014-10-14T21:09:09.041Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I think ordering/ranking experiences would be more successful (in general) than trying to just give them scores.

An example of such a system: Every ping asks you to briefly describe the previous hour, and then shows you a list of every other ping you've written for the last week/month or so. You then put the description wherever it fits in the list, above everything that was less fun to experience, and below everything that was more fun.

In this way it's very easy to notice happiness trends (whether or not you're getting happier or sadder over time) without worrying about associating the same activity with the same score, even if it's becoming less or more fun to do.

Comment by joshua_blaine on October 2014 Bragging thread. · 2014-10-07T19:46:13.196Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Tsuyoku naritai indeed! I haven't been keeping up with the story since my original binge back when book 2 as still in-progress, and you've really been getting things done, wow. Keep it up!

Comment by joshua_blaine on October 2014 Bragging thread. · 2014-10-07T19:07:57.288Z · score: 20 (20 votes) · LW · GW

To start off with something everyone here will be interested in, I've recently and finally finished the first part of my video version of The Useful Idea of Truth (LW post here, Youtube link here). It seems well liked, and I'm even wondering if I should've posted it to Main. To understand what finishing this project means to me may be hard, as it means a lot. I have learned a ton doing this, and am really happy with the final look. My previous video editing experience was basically putting still frames and videos in sequential order with a spoken voice overtop. I'm 18 years old. I'm 18 and inexperienced and I just made something that I consider on par with CGP Grey in production quality, and he's been making videos professionally for years. It's so great to look at one of my idols, say "I bet I could do that too," and then actually do it. There's a real-world benchmark for this skill I've never really done before, and I matched it. I'm developing as a person, learning and training new skills, and it's feeling great. Of course, at >80 hours for that 6 minute video, my production rate isn't so great, given I still have schooling and work to worry about. I'm sure I can optimize, slim down, and otherwise improve my workflow, and I'd love to just jump right into doing this full-time, cranking out LW videos every other week, but I can't. I've got a bit of a pipe dream, of course, that crowd-funding or an official sponsor could keep me going until Youtube add revenue/Subable/Patreon can support me, but I'm not confident there's room in people's budget for something like this work to become a priority for them.

Less of public interest, I have made a lot of progress with my schooling. This last spring I made an arrangement with my High school to do my Senior year somewhat differently than is standard. Thanks to advanced placement classes completed in previous years, I had only 3 credits needed to graduate, so I had the option to just do those 3 courses at my own pace, over the summer. 2 have been completed (yay me, I can self-motivate!) , and all I have left to finish is my English 12 class. 4 days ago, I buckled down and finished the 1st of the 4 papers I need to do. The reading needed for the others is getting done quickly, and I'm happy with what progress I have done already. I look forward finishing High School without having to actually go to school, and the validation of my previous feelings toward self-paced lessons is nice.

Comment by joshua_blaine on [Link] Animated Video - The Useful Idea of Truth (Part 1/3) · 2014-10-05T20:36:31.108Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

That's one of my larger concerns about this format, actually. Only watching one video, out of the context of the others, could be more harmful than good. Even videos that are more independently consumable than this one run into the problem that knowing about biases can hurt people.

However, I think (eventually) having a large bank of videos for viewers to binge on, and including links directly to related LW posts I haven't yet covered is a good enough band-aid to assuage that worry.

Comment by joshua_blaine on [Link] Animated Video - The Useful Idea of Truth (Part 1/3) · 2014-10-05T03:39:03.164Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I don't really, though I did show the video to a couple people while making it, at different in-progress points, but there was never the specific instruction to look for spelling errors. If there is anyone here interesting in joining such a group for official "proofreading" purposes, comment here or send me a PM. I'll get to organizing a mailing list/subreddit/something to suit the purpose.

Comment by joshua_blaine on [Link] Animated Video - The Useful Idea of Truth (Part 1/3) · 2014-10-05T00:31:40.150Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Thank you for the feedback! I do plan to make many more, but unfortunately, these videos will easily have 2 or more months between each other, unless I can get the income to support myself working on them near full time. This little project took >80 hours of work.

As of now, I don't plan to go back and fix small errors, like misspellings. It's possible, and I do apreciate you pointing them out where they exist, but it's a lot of trouble to do.

Comment by joshua_blaine on [Link] Animated Video - The Useful Idea of Truth (Part 1/3) · 2014-10-05T00:25:55.296Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I agree with you. If you pay attention, you'll notice the overall presentation of the text changes dramatically as the video goes forward. This correlates to the lessons I learned in real time while making it, and the earlier video is only like the way it is because I didn't feel like going back and changing things was an important enough of an improvement to warrant the effort.

Comment by joshua_blaine on Robin Hanson's "Overcoming Bias" posts as an e-book. · 2014-09-11T22:18:21.616Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The /domain/ use of Reddit is not something I'd ever heard of before. It seems like a very nice tool, and I'm glad you've shared it.

Comment by joshua_blaine on Open thread, Sept. 1-7, 2014 · 2014-09-06T00:19:04.870Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

That's fantastic advice, and it's made me realize a lesson in gradually adapting my design decisions.

My original plans included (mostly) kinetic typography with the occasional visual aid. The elaborate style used for presenting the text was the main mechanic for capturing attention and differentiating it from an audiobook. As work was being done, however, I started adding more visualizations, and making the visualizations more compelling, more the point of focus, and otherwise moving into animating scenarios than animating words. The text, to not distract from what was now the focus of the video, has been becoming much more closed captioning than than anything else, and I hadn't realized that until now.

I may or may not incorporate a more "chunky" presentation of words in this video (mostly because the thought of going back through what I have already and changing it is a daunting task, and negative-reinforcement for ever completing this thing at all), but I'm happy to say it's something that now exists in my possible design space, and will definitely be a consideration for future videos.

Comment by joshua_blaine on Open thread, Sept. 1-7, 2014 · 2014-09-06T00:02:52.180Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The final product will be 720x1280, so hopefully that isn't a significant problem. I'll try and keep wider kerning/spacing in mind as I move forward, though. Thank you for the feedback!

Comment by joshua_blaine on Open thread, Sept. 1-7, 2014 · 2014-09-03T22:06:47.791Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

My work on converting The Useful Idea of Truth into a video is going well. I didn't successfully anticipate the time that would be necessary to finish, but things are getting done at an acceptable pace. The best thing I can say, for sure, is that the overall style and presentation of the work has come a nice way forward since the start of this project, especially after working in some of the suggestions and impressions I've gotten from people.

(Included here is a short GIF of one of the recent portions that I'm particularly fond of, so additional criticism and suggestions for improvement are especially welcome.)

Comment by joshua_blaine on Open thread, 25-31 August 2014 · 2014-09-03T21:27:42.305Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Ignore this. It is a test of embedding images in LessWrong's comments.

Comment by joshua_blaine on Open thread, 25-31 August 2014 · 2014-08-25T21:06:09.038Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

My comment in the previous thread.

I'd like to share a finished portion of my "Useful Idea of Truth" video for minor feedback, if people are interested in seeing it. The Sally-Anne task explained.

Let me know what you like, what you don't, and if you think these videos will be worth the time I put into them.

Comment by joshua_blaine on Open thread, 18-24 August 2014 · 2014-08-25T01:31:58.741Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'm a little surprised I haven't gotten more complaints like that, actually. Anything to refine the look, feel, and overall usability of what I make is great to hear, so keep up the complaining! The final product will, however, be a video with a voice saying everything the kinetic text does, so hopefully the difficulty of reading is mitigated by the ability to listen instead/as well. Should that not be the case, it's very easy for me to do less elaborate text in future videos.

Comment by joshua_blaine on Open thread, 18-24 August 2014 · 2014-08-22T01:35:24.575Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

As I understand the situation, converting the main Sequences into a long series of short, well presented online videos would be awesome and a valuable resource (examples of the imagined format of such videos include the Youtube channels CGP Grey and CrashCourse) . I'm currently working on turning a Less Wrong post (The 1st 3rd of The Useful Idea of Truth) into one such video, and had a thought. Is it within the interests of either MIRI or CFAR to fund the production of video versions of Less Wrong posts? It's something I'm interested in starting dialogue about, as I'm significantly constrained by my existing position, and employment would be a huge help in getting better videos done faster.

Edit: Because I love teasers and hype, and I want to get some evidence out there that I do know what I'm doing, Here's a little taste of what I've got done already, in soundless HTML5 form. Just the 1st 14 seconds of the section of the video that explains the Sally-Anne Task.

Comment by joshua_blaine on Open thread, 11-17 August 2014 · 2014-08-12T18:10:27.731Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I've not personally finished my own arrangements, but I'll likely be using whole life of some kind. I do know that Rudi Hoffman is an agent well recommended by people who've gone the insurance route, so talking to him will likely get you a much better idea of what choices people make (A small warning, his sight is not the prettiest thing). You could also contact the people recommended on Alcor's Insurance Agents page, if you so desire.

Comment by joshua_blaine on Bragging Thread, August 2014 · 2014-08-08T20:50:42.828Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Is that "I'm sure I'll manage somehow" because thinking about the problem is uncomfortable so you're brain is creating a comforting excuse, or because you've known yourself to solve similarly difficult problems in the past? I ask because you don't want to get burnt later if it's the former, and I've personally had experiences (read: problems) with a long distance relationship.

Comment by joshua_blaine on A simple game that has no solution · 2014-07-23T03:20:32.917Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Two TDT players have 3 plausible outcomes to me, it seems. This comes from my admittedly inexperienced intuitions, and not much rigorous math. The 1st two plausible points that occurred to me are 1)both players choose C,Y, with certainty, or 2)they sit at exactly the equilibrium for p1, giving him an expected payout of 3, and p2 an expected payout of .5. Both of these improve on the global utility payout of 3 that's gotten if p1 just chooses A (giving 6 and 3.5, respectively), which is a positive thing, right?

The argument that supports these possibilities isn't unfamiliar to TDT. p2 does not expect to be given a choice, except in the cases where p1 is using TDT, therefore she has the choice of Y, with a payout of 0, or not having been given a chance to chose at all. Both of these possibilities have no payout, so p2 is neutral about what choice to make, therefore choosing Y makes some sense. Alternatively, Y has to choose between A for 3 or C for p(.5)*(6), which have the same payout. C, however, gives p2 .5 more utility than she'd otherwise get, so it makes some sense for p1 to pick C.

Alternatively, and what occurred to me last, both these agents have some way to equally share their "profit" over Classical Decision Theory. For however much more utility than 3 p1 gets, p2 gets the same amount. This payoff point (p1-3=p2) does exists, but I'm not sure where it is without doing more math. Is this a well formulated game theoretic concept? I don't know, but it makes some sense to my idea of "fairness", and the kind of point two well-formulated agents should converge on.

Comment by joshua_blaine on Open thread, 14-20 July 2014 · 2014-07-16T23:23:20.423Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Where did the brain diagram on the front page go? Is it just an error on my end, or has that actually been removed from the site?

Comment by joshua_blaine on Bragging Thread, July 2014 · 2014-07-16T23:00:36.797Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Here's something that might net you successes of a similar kind, rejection therapy. It's much less official than it might immediately sound, as it's an entirely self imposed challenge. You may find yourself asking for and getting a lot more than you realized you could, as well as becoming more comfortable doing it.

Comment by joshua_blaine on Rationalist Sport · 2014-07-01T00:31:09.425Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It's easy to forget that first person shooters already have plenty of game modes with strictly defined victory conditions that make fun to play watch matches. Team Fortress 2 has arena mode, which seems like it has very appropriate win conditions for a war game. Teams must eliminate each other, or capture a central point that unlocks after a set amount of time to win. It discourages fleeing and hiding if your team is mostly eliminated, because you'll lose anyway when the point unlocks. In general all you should need is one clearly defined goal for at least one team, and a time limit.

I really like HPMoR style war games for a rationalist sport myself, using Airsoft or paintball, whichever comes out safest. One fun possibility is real life Trouble in Terrorist Town, which has the fun rationalist twist of trying to identify who the traitor(s) might be. I find the game incredibly fun to watch, which is something positive for a sport. Larger scale games with less betrayal mechanics might be more fun/interesting as well. War games is a very versatile specification for a sport, but should allow for consistent rules for specific tournaments or leagues.

Comment by joshua_blaine on A Story of Kings and Spies · 2014-06-16T19:24:09.257Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

While I hate to say this, the numbers are much less important than the explanation of what they mean. I thought "lifetime of debt", and then made up the costs in a way to sound realistic-ish. The world-building is probably pretty inconsistent. That is a Bad Author thing to do, but it is super common in the majority of popular stories (I'm looking at you Galleons from Harry Potter).

Comment by joshua_blaine on A Story of Kings and Spies · 2014-06-16T19:11:09.672Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This is correct. Betting, as a policy, helps distinguish between Orin(correct) and Orin(wrong), but is really only useful for eliminating Orin(spy) because it's a novel method that the King expects spies to yet be unprepared for, and is easily investigated if circumvented.

Imagine, If Orin is wrong and yet mysteriously has all his debts re-paid and shop re-purchased shortly after being punished, some eyebrows would be raised.

Comment by joshua_blaine on A Story of Kings and Spies · 2014-06-16T19:04:08.294Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Gwern, I happen to agree with most of what you've said, if this were written in regards to x-risks. It is in fact irrelevant to UFAI, but was mostly an exercise in a) practicing writing, and b) working through some intuitions in regards to betting/prediction markets. I wrote it for LW because I assumed it would be enjoyed, but not really learned from (hence Discussion, not Main). A re-write would explore more thoroughly and explicitly the difference between Orin being correct, a spy, or mistaken, and how his bet changes those probabilities.

I suppose it makes an ok-ish example of "people take their money more seriously than their beliefs, and betting helps fix that" Which I think is am important lesson in general.

Comment by joshua_blaine on A Story of Kings and Spies · 2014-06-16T18:54:53.433Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Fixed, thank you. I'd hate to think the King turned himself into a waterway.

Comment by joshua_blaine on (Virtual) Employment Open Thread · 2014-06-06T22:06:26.263Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The Wayback Machine, of course. Thanks.

I suppose I lose a rationalist point for failing to use a tool I'm already familiar with to solve my problem.

Comment by joshua_blaine on Boring Advice Repository · 2014-06-06T21:58:37.822Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Connected to this: A preemptive favor is more likely to result in later requests (even if larger than the initial favor) being fulfilled, but the end result may or may not be a more positive opinion of you. The abstract of this paper seems to indicate increased liking of a stranger that does this, but paywalls and general laziness prevent me from getting a more comprehensive idea of what can happen.

Comment by joshua_blaine on Boring Advice Repository · 2014-06-06T21:44:26.287Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This is a nice comment. It's a useful frame of reference and I especially like it because it jives well with the intuitions I've developed since I started studying Economics. And probably my identity as a Neat Person and someone who enjoys experiences over things.

Comment by joshua_blaine on Brainstorming for post topics · 2014-06-06T21:30:43.985Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

As a general point the "off topic" complaint is used too much to shut down what I think would be valuable contributions to the site. If we're only ever allowed to talk about rationality, but not demonstrate ourselves using it, then we've make a community-crafting mistake.

Comment by joshua_blaine on (Virtual) Employment Open Thread · 2014-06-06T21:19:32.917Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

For everyone seeing this in the "recent comments" section, does there exist a record of this comment? It seems like it was really useful and it's a shame it was completely nuked.

Comment by joshua_blaine on Open Thread, May 26 - June 1, 2014 · 2014-05-28T17:27:58.561Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It's clear that LessWrong disagrees with you, but in the spirit of challenging my assumptions I'm asking you for any substantive sources that support your claim.

Or less substantively, where did you hear/why do you believe that?

Comment by joshua_blaine on Open Thread, May 26 - June 1, 2014 · 2014-05-28T17:22:06.251Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I think something that touches closely to what you're trying to do is Rational Poker, which is using poker to train your bias overcoming skill. Specifically the This is what 5% feels like. exercise. The idea is that you can combine your explicitly calculated chance of winning a hand with your gut feeling enough times that they begin matching up. You'll eventually understand what 5%, 10%, 50%, or 90% actually feel like from the inside. Unfortunately, Im uncertain how well this gut feeling generalizes, so using it to determine probabilities outside of areas you've trained it for may be less successful.

Comment by joshua_blaine on Open Thread, May 12 - 18, 2014 · 2014-05-12T22:42:15.115Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

This is beautiful and really useful seeming. I'm happy it exists, so thanks for making it.

Comment by joshua_blaine on May Monthly Bragging Thread · 2014-05-04T22:34:12.143Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I have reduced my discomfort with talking to anyone about anything, especially requests for help/information. Instead of avoiding talking to people like my parents, teachers, or businesses due to some odd, misplaced anxiety I've successfully started noticing this pattern and purposefully overcoming it.

Examples include:

  • Talking to my family about wanting to move to Australia, instead of putting it off until the last minute.

  • Calling several local banks and asking about shadowing opportunities, something unfamiliar to both me and the banks.

It's not incredible, but it feels nice to be making progress in the right direction.

Comment by joshua_blaine on May Monthly Bragging Thread · 2014-05-04T22:25:51.696Z · score: 12 (12 votes) · LW · GW

You made a thing that's being used by other people. People who are paying you to use it. That's pretty great!

Comment by joshua_blaine on 2013 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2013-11-22T13:48:25.914Z · score: 44 (44 votes) · LW · GW

Survey taken.

I found the Europe question awesome because I, incredibly luckily, had checked Europe's total population for a Fermi estimate just yesterday, so I got to feel like a high accuracy, highly calibrated badass. Of course, that also means it's not good data for things that I learned greater than ~1 day ago.

Comment by joshua_blaine on [Video Link] PostHuman: An Introduction to Transhumanism · 2013-11-15T15:03:51.909Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I dont disagree with the idea of an A.I. Intelligence explosion, but I do think their argument is the wrong one. It is a fairly common idea though, especially from semi-laypeople, so I'm not surprised to have seen it in their video.

Everything else in the video seemed roughly accurate, though.

Comment by joshua_blaine on Open Thread, November 8 - 14, 2013 · 2013-11-11T02:29:50.285Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Is there a LW consensus on the merits of Bitcoin? Namely, is it the optimal place to invest money, especially in regards to mining equipment?

I think the value is liable to increase fairly dramatically over time, and that buying/mining Bitcoins will prove incredibly profitable, but I'd like the input of this community before I decide whether or not to put money forth for this venture.

Comment by joshua_blaine on Open Thread, November 1 - 7, 2013 · 2013-11-06T13:54:38.187Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I had not, actually. The link you've given just links me to Google's homepage, but I did just search LW for "Tulpa" and found it fine, so thanks regardless.

edit: The link's original purpose now works for me. I'm not sure what the problem was before, but it's gone now.

Comment by joshua_blaine on Open Thread, November 1 - 7, 2013 · 2013-11-06T03:00:53.136Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Does anyone here have any serious information regarding Tulpas? When I first heard of them they immediately seemed to be the kind of thing that is obviously and clearly a very bad idea, and may not even exist in the sense that people describe them. A very obvious sign of a persons who is legitimately crazy, even.

Naturally, my first re-reaction is the desire to create one myself (One might say I'm a bit contrarian by nature). I don't know any obvious reason not to (ignoring social stigma and time consuming initial investment), And there may be some advantage to having one, such as parallel focus, more "outside" self analysis, etc. I don't really know much of anything right now, which is why I'm asking if there's been any decent research done already.

Comment by joshua_blaine on October 2013 Media Thread · 2013-10-08T15:29:09.454Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Not fan-fiction, really, as It's an original story, but it's more like one than not. A web serial, currently incomplete and described by the Author as a "rough draft" for an eventual book, but It' a self consistent and expansive Super-hero universe, and with a ton of unique and powerful abilities, I've really been enjoying it. The story is Worm, and It's easily one of my favorite web stories in awhile, and very dark (especially as the story progresses further).

Here is a direct copy of the author's about page as It sums up the premise well:

An introverted teenage girl with an unconventional superpower, Taylor goes out in costume to find escape from a deeply unhappy and frustrated civilian life. Her first attempt at taking down a supervillain sees her mistaken for one, thrusting her into the midst of the local ‘cape’ scene’s politics, unwritten rules, and ambiguous morals. As she risks life and limb, Taylor faces the dilemma of having to do the wrong things for the right reasons.

The story, titled Worm, takes the form of a web serial, posted in bite-sized reads in much the same way that authors such as Mark Twain would release their works one chapter at a time in the days before full-fledged novels. Worm started in June 2011, updating twice a week. It has (as of September 2013) reached an excess of 1,500,000 words; roughly 9-23 typical novels in length. The story updates on Tuesdays and Saturdays, with bonus chapters appearing on the occasional Thursday, as explained below.

The actual work is divided into a number of story arcs, each containing five to sixteen individual chapters. Interludes (side stories) are inserted between each story arc to showcase events from different perspectives or provide some background information that the reader wouldn’t get from Taylor’s point of view. Still more interludes continue to be released as bonus content when the audience reaches specific donation goals (though I’ve taken to frequently releasing regular chapters instead, so as not to disrupt the core story).

Readers should be cautioned that Worm is fairly dark as fiction goes, and it gets far darker as the story progresses. Morality isn’t black and white, Taylor and her acquaintances aren’t invincible, the heroes aren’t winning the war between right and wrong, and superpowers haven’t necessarily affected society for the better. Just the opposite on every count, really. Even on a more fundamental level, Taylor’s day to day life is unhappy, with her clinging to the end of her rope from the story’s outset. The denizens of the Wormverse (as readers have termed it) don’t pull punches, and I try to avoid doing so myself, as a writer. There’s graphic language, descriptions of violence and sex does happen (albeit offscreen). It would be easier to note the trigger warnings that don’t apply than all the ones that do.

All in all, this probably isn’t a story for the sensitive or the young. I’d peg it with a PG-18 rating, but I think we all know that there’s kids who can handle that sort of thing and there’s adults who can’t. Use your best judgement and ask in the comments below if you’re still unsure.

Comment by joshua_blaine on You Only Live Twice · 2013-09-04T21:31:24.117Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

I understand this is from ages ago but is worth a response. See the Wiki page on Deep hypothermic circulatory arrest (a procedure used in some surgeries today):

Deep Hypothermic Circulatory Arrest (DHCA) is a surgical technique that involves cooling the body of the patient and stopping blood circulation.

The procedure requires keeping the patient in a state of hibernation at 12 - 18 degrees Celsius with no breathing, heartbeat, or brain activity for up to one hour. Blood is drained from the body to eliminate blood pressure. [emphasis mine]

The existence and success of this procedure seems like incredibly strong evidence in favor of people having a purely chemical identity stored in their head. When timely applied and non-lossy preservation techniques (which I consider modern cryonics to be) are used, you should be able to be successfully re-animated.

Comment by joshua_blaine on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 27, chapter 98 · 2013-08-30T00:53:17.784Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

As someone who read Ender's Game at the age of 11, and consequently a lot more sci-fi since then, It took Eliezer's "You Only Live Twice" post six years later to properly elevate my knowledge of cryonics to actual conscious awareness. It took an actual proponent of the procedure telling me about it and that people are actually doing it in real life for me to notice it as a useful idea.

And the only thing I needed for convincing was the feasibility of the science, not any moral qualms about the implications of it all. I was (and still am) in the same mind-set concerning life extension and widespread immortality as Harry, and a single afternoon reading about the procedure had me basically convinced.

So no, I don't really think it's incredibly unlikely that Harry hasn't properly heard about cryonics as used in the manor he needs. Of course, I'm but a single data point. How many smart kids have you met that are or aren't knowledgable about existing cryonic procedures?

Comment by joshua_blaine on New Monthly Thread: Bragging · 2013-08-12T21:34:05.143Z · score: 16 (20 votes) · LW · GW

You've now been marked as having tier 4 human usefulness by Clippy the Paperclip Maximizing AI due to the (now increased) iron content of your otherwise useless & fleshy body. The nano-swarm is on its way now.

You may prepare for processing as you see fit.

Comment by joshua_blaine on New Monthly Thread: Bragging · 2013-08-12T15:17:45.625Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Point conceded. but no doubling up by mentioning this in future bragging threads.

Comment by joshua_blaine on New Monthly Thread: Bragging · 2013-08-12T15:14:27.851Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

hm.. A'd like "coolest thing", but as an encouraging factor, any awesome things, cumulative or otherwise, should be fine.

Comment by joshua_blaine on New Monthly Thread: Bragging · 2013-08-12T15:13:59.837Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

You're right. I've now got new information. Excuse me while I go try and discard my idea, and rethink the potential benefits of rewards again.