Comment by kazuo_thow on Stupid Questions May 2015 · 2015-05-03T21:31:58.871Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Here on Less Wrong there are a significant number of mathematically inclined software engineers who know some probability theory, meaning they've read/worked through at least one of Jaynes and Pearl but may not have gone to graduate school. How could someone with this background contribute to making causal inference more accessible to researchers? Any tools that are particularly under-developed or missing?

Comment by kazuo_thow on Open thread, 3-8 June 2014 · 2014-06-08T20:18:59.963Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It's only been about 6 months since I started consciously focusing my attention on the subtle effects of abandonment trauma. Although I've done a fair amount of reading and reflecting on the topic I'm not at the point yet where I can confidently give guidance to others. Maybe in the next 3-4 months I'll write up a post for the discussion section here on LW.

What's frustrating is that signs of compulsive, codependent and narcissistic behavior are everywhere, with clear connections to methods of coping developed in childhood, but the number of people who pay attention to these connections is still small enough that discussion is sparse and the sort of research findings you'd like to look up remain unavailable. The most convincing research result I've been able to find is this paper on parental verbal abuse and white matter, where it was found that parental verbal abuse significantly reduces fractional anisotropy in the brain's white matter.

Comment by kazuo_thow on Open thread, 3-8 June 2014 · 2014-06-05T19:34:00.255Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Complex PTSD: From Surviving To Thriving by Pete Walker focuses on the understanding that wounds from active abuse make up the outer layers of a psychological structure, the core of which is an experience of abandonment caused by passive neglect. He writes about self-image, food issues, codependency, fear of intimacy and generally about the long but freeing process of recovering.

As with physical abuse, effective work on the wounds of verbal and emotional abuse can sometimes open the door to de-minimizing the awful impact of emotional neglect. I sometimes feel the most for my clients who were “only” neglected, because without the hard core evidence – the remembering and de-minimizing of the impact of abuse – they find it extremely difficult to connect their non-existent self-esteem, their frequent flashbacks, and their recurring reenactments of impoverished relationships, to their childhood emotional abandonment. I repeatedly regret that I did not know what I know now about this kind of neglect when I wrote my book and over-focused on the role of abuse in childhood trauma.

The Drama of the Gifted Child by Alice Miller focuses more on the excuses and cultural ideology behind poor parenting. She grew up in an abusive household in 1920s-'30s Germany.

Contempt is the weapon of the weak and a defense against one's own despised and unwanted feelings. And the fountainhead of all contempt, all discrimination, is the more or less conscious, uncontrolled, and secret exercise of power over the child by the adult, which is tolerated by society (except in the case of murder or serious bodily harm). What adults do to their child's spirit is entirely their own affair. For a child is regarded as the parents' property, in the same way that the citizens of a totalitarian state are the property of its government. Until we become sensitized to the child's suffering, this wielding of power by adults will continue to be a normal aspect of the human condition, for no one takes seriously what is regarded as trivial, since the victims are "only children." But in twenty years' time these children will be adults who will pay it all back to their own children. They may then fight vigorously against cruelty "in the world" -- and yet they will carry within themselves an experience of cruelty to which they have no access and which remains hidden behind their idealized picture of a happy childhood.

Healing The Shame That Binds You by John Bradshaw is about toxic shame and the variety of ways it takes root in our minds. Feedback loops between addictive behavior and self-hatred, subtle indoctrination about sexuality being "dirty", religious messages about sin, and even being compelled to eat when you're not hungry:

Generally speaking, most of our vital spontaneous instinctual life gets shamed. Children are shamed for being too rambunctious, for wanting things and for laughing too loud. Much dysfunctional shame occurs at the dinner table. Children are forced to eat when they are not hungry. Sometimes children are forced to eat what they do not find appetizing. Being exiled at the dinner table until the plate is cleaned is not unusual in modern family life. The public humiliation of sitting at the dinner table all alone, often with siblings jeering, is a painful kind of exposure.

Comment by kazuo_thow on Open thread, 3-8 June 2014 · 2014-06-04T20:05:05.388Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

I recognize this in myself and it's been difficult to understand, much less get under control. The single biggest insight I've had about this flinching-away behavior (at least the way it arises in my own mind) is that it's most often a dissociative coping mechanism. Something intuitively clicked into place when I read Pete Walker's description of the "freeze type". From The 4Fs: A Trauma Typology in Complex PTSD:

Many freeze types unconsciously believe that people and danger are synonymous, and that safety lies in solitude. Outside of fantasy, many give up entirely on the possibility of love. The freeze response, also known as the camouflage response, often triggers the individual into hiding, isolating and eschewing human contact as much as possible. This type can be so frozen in retreat mode that it seems as if their starter button is stuck in the "off" position. It is usually the most profoundly abandoned child - "the lost child" - who is forced to "choose" and habituate to the freeze response (the most primitive of the 4Fs). Unable to successfully employ fight, flight or fawn responses, the freeze type's defenses develop around classical dissociation, which allows him to disconnect from experiencing his abandonment pain, and protects him from risky social interactions - any of which might trigger feelings of being reabandoned. Freeze types often present as ADD; they seek refuge and comfort in prolonged bouts of sleep, daydreaming, wishing and right brain-dominant activities like TV, computer and video games. They master the art of changing the internal channel whenever inner experience becomes uncomfortable. When they are especially traumatized or triggered, they may exhibit a schizoid-like detachment from ordinary reality.

Of course like with any other psychological condition there's a wide spectrum: some people had wonderful childhoods full of safe attachment and always had somebody to model healthy processing of emotions for them, some people were utterly abandoned as children, and many more had something between those extremes. The key understanding I've gained from Pete Walker's writing is that simply being left alone with upsetting inner experience too often as a child can lead to development of "freeze type" defenses, even in the absence of any overtly abusive treatment.

I suspect that using a combination of TV shows, games and web browsing as emotional analgesics (at various levels of awareness) is very common now in wealthy countries. This is one of the reasons I would like to see more discussion of emotional issues on Less Wrong.

Comment by kazuo_thow on Needing Better PR · 2011-08-24T17:37:08.563Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I plan on transcribing all those video answers soon (within the next few days).

Comment by kazuo_thow on Rationality Quotes: February 2011 · 2011-02-02T17:54:54.447Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I think this adaptation is much more precise than the original.

Comment by kazuo_thow on Rationality Quotes: February 2011 · 2011-02-02T06:05:08.154Z · score: 17 (17 votes) · LW · GW

Apathy on the individual level translates into insanity at the mass level.

-- Douglas Hofstadter

Comment by kazuo_thow on Starting a LW meet-up is easy. · 2011-02-02T01:37:15.908Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I recall seeing another poster say that they were from the University of Washington.

Maybe that was me? Even better if it wasn't!

I would definitely be interested in a meetup. As for a low-preparation (but still likely to be useful) discussion topic: day-to-day productivity / fighting akrasia.

Comment by kazuo_thow on :( · 2011-01-08T07:02:32.599Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think any language or culture currently has a turn of phrase which is actually adequate for events like this - for expressing exactly what was lost.

I've also lost a grandparent, and an uncle. Wasn't extremely close to either of them, but I understand that sickening feeling which goes along with knowing that someone played a role in your development as a person, and that you'll never be able to talk to them again. And I can't be the only person among those who occasionally hang out in the #lesswrong IRC channel to have such an experience. Pop in and talk to us if you feel the need.

And if you feel like it, maybe (re-)read Chapter 45 of Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality.

And Death is not something I will ever embrace. It is only a childish thing, that the human species has not yet outgrown. And someday... We'll get over it... And people won't have to say goodbye any more...

Comment by kazuo_thow on Efficient Induction · 2010-12-27T19:41:14.553Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

On the problem of distinguishing between Turing machines of the kinds you mentioned, does Jürgen Schmidhuber's idea of a speed prior help at all? Searching for "speed prior" here on Less Wrong didn't really turn up any previous discussion.

Comment by kazuo_thow on Rationality Quotes: December 2010 · 2010-12-04T06:03:10.692Z · score: 10 (14 votes) · LW · GW

The splitting of the atom has changed everything save the way men think, and thus we drift toward unparalleled catastrophe.

-- Albert Einstein

Comment by kazuo_thow on Open Thread, September, 2010-- part 2 · 2010-09-21T08:36:59.447Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I can't seem to find any talk of an experiment with 80% / 20% frequency options, but XiXiDu mentioned one where pigeons were found to out-perform humans at the iterated Monty Hall problem. Here's the paper itself.

Comment by kazuo_thow on September Less Wrong Meetup aka Eliezer's Bayesian Birthday Bash · 2010-09-09T01:33:21.778Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Presumably a reference to this post.

Somewhere deep in the microtubules inside an out-of-the-way neuron somewhere in the basal ganglia of Eliezer Yudkowsky's brain, there is a little XML tag that says awesome.

Comment by kazuo_thow on September Less Wrong Meetup aka Eliezer's Bayesian Birthday Bash · 2010-09-08T16:32:31.687Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

May you have at least 10^63 happy birthdays.


Comment by kazuo_thow on A "Failure to Evaluate Return-on-Time" Fallacy · 2010-09-07T20:32:13.592Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

When charitable services can be gained in exchange for money, our default failure mode is to purchase moral satisfaction instead of choosing an allocation of money that will maximize expected benefit. Maybe there's something similar going on when the exchangeable resource is time? We have some built-in facilities for tasting fatty foods and processing that I'm diligently working long hours feeling; tasting healthiness and feeling like a wise spender of time don't come as easily.

Comment by kazuo_thow on Less Wrong: Open Thread, September 2010 · 2010-09-04T07:01:09.760Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Here's the Open Thread comment where Daniel Varga made the page and its source code public. I don't know how often it's updated.

Comment by kazuo_thow on Rationality quotes: September 2010 · 2010-09-03T15:01:58.272Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

How do you get new ideas? That you do by analogy, mostly, and in working with analogy you often make very great errors. It's a great game to try to look at the past, at an unscientific era, look at something there, and say have we got the same thing now, and where is it?

-- Richard Feynman, The Meaning of It All: Thoughts of a Citizen-Scientist, page 114

Comment by kazuo_thow on Rationality quotes: September 2010 · 2010-09-01T22:55:52.072Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

... the whole temple of Man's achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins ...

Eh... "inevitably" is one of those words that takes a very high degree of confidence to use correctly - a degree of confidence we really don't have with current cosmology, if the simulation hypothesis is true.

(By the way, here's the quote from last month's thread which Apprentice was repurposing.)

Comment by kazuo_thow on Rationality quotes: September 2010 · 2010-09-01T15:38:48.458Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Ignoring the trees to see the forest doesn't mean that one is more important than the other - it just gives a different perspective.

-- Michael Sipser, Introduction to the Theory of Computation (2nd ed., page 257)

Comment by kazuo_thow on Open Thread, August 2010-- part 2 · 2010-08-16T22:39:04.228Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Will a correct answer to this question give you significant help toward maximizing the number of paperclips in the universe?

Comment by kazuo_thow on Rationality quotes: August 2010 · 2010-08-03T03:56:18.824Z · score: 18 (18 votes) · LW · GW

... the history of mathematics is a history of horrendously difficult problems being solved by young people too ignorant to know that they were impossible.

-- Freeman Dyson, "Birds and Frogs"

Comment by kazuo_thow on Alien parasite technical guy · 2010-07-28T04:40:57.230Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Did you mean for this post to have a writing style similar to that of Peter Watts' Blindsight (which explores the notion of non-sentient optimizers), or was that an unintentional thing?

(The above isn't intended as a meta-level question, by the way. But I'd also be interested to know if the George Clooney in your head wanted the team to signal approval of the ideas presented in Blindsight. Because that would be kind of ironic.)

Comment by kazuo_thow on Room for rent in North Berkeley house · 2010-07-14T02:22:39.307Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I actually voted this up because the instrumental value of growing our offline/in-person community seems to outweigh the slight noise contributed by top-level posts of the "SIAI is calling for visiting fellows / volunteers / donations" or "Meetup at location X" variety.

Comment by kazuo_thow on Open Thread: July 2010 · 2010-07-07T05:16:33.338Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Part of the San Francisco skyline, maybe?

Comment by kazuo_thow on Open Thread: July 2010 · 2010-07-07T05:01:19.104Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I, for one, would be very interested in seeing a top-level post about this.

Comment by kazuo_thow on Open Thread: July 2010 · 2010-07-05T21:24:05.922Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It couldn't have been "Timeless Causality" or "Causality and Moral Responsibility", could it?

Comment by kazuo_thow on Cryonics Wants To Be Big · 2010-07-05T21:21:26.822Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

It seems like the focus of this post is not to do public outreach directly. The comparative advantage we have here at LW (in the particular domain of promoting cryonics) probably lies further upstream than that: coming up with ideas behind business strategy rather than hashing out marketing campaigns to make cryonics seem less "creepy" and more acceptable to the general public.

Comment by kazuo_thow on Rationality Quotes: July 2010 · 2010-07-01T22:02:12.285Z · score: 12 (12 votes) · LW · GW

This is what fascinates me most in existence: the peculiar necessity of imagining what is, in fact, real.

-- Philip Gourevitch

Comment by kazuo_thow on Book Club Update, Chapter 2 of Probability Theory · 2010-06-29T07:09:10.080Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Could we standardize on using the whole-book-as-one-PDF version, at least for the purposes of referencing equations?

ETA: So far I've benefited from checking the relevant parts of Kevin Van Horn's unofficial errata pages before (and often while) reading a particular section.

Comment by kazuo_thow on A Rational Education · 2010-06-24T17:52:02.043Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

while these evals might be less biased they are more than proportionately less accessible.

How so?

Comment by kazuo_thow on A Rational Education · 2010-06-23T21:54:38.520Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I've gotten into the habit of pointing out, whenever other students at my university make reference to, that the selection bias on that site is huge. It's not uncommon to see professors with dozens of extremely positive reviews, dozens more highly negative reviews, and very few - if any - neutral reviews. Naturally, the negative reviews appear most frequently because "grr, I feel like this professor graded too harshly" provides the strongest motivation for posting a disgruntled comment.

I don't know of any other place that does this, but the University of Washington maintains a course evaluation system (with data made available to all students), to gather quarterly feedback on the performance of professors and TAs in such a way that at most ~5% students fail to fill out the questionnaires.

Comment by kazuo_thow on Less Wrong Book Club and Study Group · 2010-06-09T23:36:43.889Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Does anyone know a good IRC infrastructure that allows for quickly entering and displaying TeX formulas?

There's a plugin for Pidgin called pidgin-latex which handles just that.

ETA: If people start using this plugin (or, more generally, if we use TeX/LaTeX in any capacity for this study group), it might occasionally be helpful to use the detexify handwritten symbol recognizer - for when you want to use a symbol and can't quite remember the command that produces it.

Comment by kazuo_thow on Less Wrong Book Club and Study Group · 2010-06-09T21:19:38.907Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I will also be in the vicinity of the Bay Area from June 12 to late September, and would be quite happy to give the study group a try. I attempted a full read of Jaynes' book about a year ago, and realized about 70% of the way through that I didn't have all the mathematical background necessary to fully appreciate it.

A zipped archive of all the chapters, which seemed to be missing on the pages linked in the top-level post, is available here.

Comment by kazuo_thow on Abnormal Cryonics · 2010-05-28T21:07:40.218Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Eliezer has been outright lying about cost of cryonics in the past.

We would find it helpful if you could provide some insight into why you think this.

Comment by kazuo_thow on Open Thread: May 2010, Part 2 · 2010-05-28T18:33:19.472Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I wonder whether there are similar brain differences between top mathematicians and everyone else, and if such a simple method could make people better at math.

It would be worth trying, but given that the process of doing original mathematics feels to top mathematicians like it involves a lot of vague, artistic visualization (i.e. mental operations much more complicated than the cursor-moving task), I'd put a low prior probability on simple electrical stimulation having the desired effect.

Comment by kazuo_thow on To signal effectively, use a non-human, non-stoppable enforcer · 2010-05-23T03:10:14.444Z · score: 12 (12 votes) · LW · GW

... wherein I'm trying to talk an escaped AI back into its box.

Yeah... good luck with that.

Comment by kazuo_thow on To signal effectively, use a non-human, non-stoppable enforcer · 2010-05-23T02:41:20.431Z · score: 29 (29 votes) · LW · GW

Sorry for directly breaking the subjunctive here, but given the number of lurkers we seem to have, there's probably some newcomers' confusion to be broken as well, lest this whole exchange simply come off as bizarre and confusing to valuable future community members.

A brief explanation of "Clippy": Clippy's user name (and many of his/her posts) are a play on the notion of a paperclip maximizer - a superintelligent AI whose utility function can roughly be described as U(x) = "the total quantity of paperclips in universe-state x". The idea was used prominently in "The True Prisoner's Dilemma" to illustrate the implications of one solution to the prisoner's dilemma. It's also been used occasionally around Less Wrong as a representative element of the equivalence class of AIs that have alien/low-complexity values.

In this particular top-level post (but not in general), the paperclip maximizer is taken to have not yet achieved superintelligence - hence why Clippy is bothering to negotiate with a bunch of humans.

Comment by kazuo_thow on Open Thread: May 2010, Part 2 · 2010-05-21T01:59:30.296Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

From the article:

"When we are in the public arena we tell people we're working on the aging process, the first thing they think is that we want to make a 100-year-old person live to be 250 -- and that's actually the furthest from the truth," he [Andrew Dillin, Salk Institute / Howard Hughes Medical Institute] said.

I wonder how many appearances of this idea ("making 70-80 year lives healthy would be awesome, but trying to vastly extend lifespans would be weird") are due to public relations expediency, and how many are due to the speakers actually believing it.

Comment by kazuo_thow on Rationality quotes: May 2010 · 2010-05-04T16:47:19.033Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Fixed, thanks.

Comment by kazuo_thow on Rationality quotes: May 2010 · 2010-05-02T06:47:05.287Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

[...] but we have no guarantee at all that our formal system contains the full empirical or quasi-empirical stuff in which we are really interested and with which we dealt in the informal theory. There is no formal criterion as to the correctness of formalization.

-- Imre Lakatos, "What Does a Mathematical Proof Prove?"

ETA: When I first read this remark, I couldn't decide whether it was terrifying, or just a very abstract specification of a deep technical problem. I currently think it's both of those things.

Comment by kazuo_thow on Open Thread: May 2010 · 2010-05-01T18:24:12.498Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Count me as "having an intention to do that in the future". Although I'm currently just an undergraduate studying math and computer science, I hope to (within 5-10 years) start doing everything I can to help with the task of FAI design.

Comment by kazuo_thow on Proposed New Features for Less Wrong · 2010-04-28T06:26:38.899Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'm in favor of both the grace period and "karma coward" option. In my own experience, anxiety about being downvoted acted as a deterrent against posting comments; reading and responding to posts by new members is relatively cheap, while missing opportunities to make them feel included in the community (and thus potentially missing out on their future contributions) seems comparatively expensive.

Would it be useful - maybe as something to be incorporated with the discussion forum - to have a (semi-)formalized system of study partners/groups? A while ago, Morendil asked if anyone would be interested in teaming up to study Jaynes' Probability Theory: the Logic of Science. An influx of new members would bring more people who could benefit from ongoing help and motivation to study the central topics of interest here on LW. It would be nice to have a standard way of coordinating with study partners.

Comment by kazuo_thow on You cannot be mistaken about (not) wanting to wirehead · 2010-01-27T01:23:02.251Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Are you making this as a statement of personal preference, or general policy? What if it becomes practically impossible for a person to give informed consent, as in cases of extreme mental disability?

Comment by kazuo_thow on Normal Cryonics · 2010-01-20T09:59:22.797Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

but cognitive dissonance is supposed to be a private thing, like going to the bathroom or popping a zit.

I see no compelling reason care about another person's mundane, unavoidable bodily functions. But I can see a number of compelling reasons to care about another person's sanity.

Comment by kazuo_thow on Tips and Tricks for Answering Hard Questions · 2010-01-18T03:22:19.315Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

One that I sometimes forget, usually by encountering a potential path to an answer and quickly switching into short-term investigation mode:

Estimate the value of obtaining an answer and consider whether that would be worth the time/energy investment. The hard question may sound interesting in an attention-grabbing way, but one's level of fascination moments after hearing it may be a poor indicator of a solutions' actual value.

Comment by kazuo_thow on Fictional Evidence vs. Fictional Insight · 2010-01-11T01:20:10.942Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

P(H is true | H is not represented in my mind)

How would this probability be assigned?

Comment by kazuo_thow on Rationality Quotes January 2010 · 2010-01-09T23:11:09.520Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Google Books is your friend.

Comment by kazuo_thow on Rationality Quotes January 2010 · 2010-01-09T22:40:02.717Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Page 136 (in Chapter 5 - "Queer Uses for Probability Theory"), in the first full paragraph.

Comment by kazuo_thow on Less Wrong Q&A with Eliezer Yudkowsky: Video Answers · 2010-01-09T19:14:45.352Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

He's currently the technical director at Bitphase AI. From talking to him, it seems that his strategy is to make tools for speeding up eventual FAI development/implementation and also commercialize those tools to gain funding for FAI research.

Comment by kazuo_thow on Serious Stories · 2009-01-09T02:27:54.000Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Could it be that pain-filled stories carry literary value exactly because (to a reader) they're filled with bearable pain? But I have little idea as to how we'd go about setting the threshold for "tolerable pain."