Are UFOs just drones? 2021-01-08T20:51:26.068Z
[Link] Faster than Light in Our Model of Physics: Some Preliminary Thoughts—Stephen Wolfram Writings 2020-10-04T20:26:51.611Z
[Link] Where did you get that idea in the first place? | Meaningness 2020-09-25T15:38:00.092Z
Link: Vitamin D Can Likely End the COVID-19 Pandemic - Rootclaim Blog 2020-09-18T17:07:22.953Z
The Peter Attia Drive podcast episode #102: Michael Osterholm, Ph.D.: COVID-19—Lessons learned, challenges ahead, and reasons for optimism and concern 2020-04-04T05:19:38.304Z
"Preparing for a Pandemic: Stage 3: Grow Food if You Can [COVID-19, hort, US, Patreon]" 2020-04-03T17:57:58.826Z
How much do we know about how brains learn? 2020-01-24T14:46:47.185Z
[Link] "Doing being rational: polymerase chain reaction" by David Chapman 2019-12-13T23:54:45.189Z
Link: An exercise: meta-rational phenomena | Meaningness 2019-10-21T16:56:24.443Z
Paper on qualitative types or degrees of knowledge, with examples from medicine? 2019-06-15T00:31:56.912Z
Flagging/reporting spam *posts*? 2018-05-23T16:14:11.515Z


Comment by kenny on Is there an academic consensus around Rent Control? · 2021-01-22T19:02:26.471Z · LW · GW

I think you're right about 'fairness' being the (most common) central argument. I'd want a (good) economist to evaluate those other domains tho! And not (primarily) to quantify the argument as much as evaluate the relevant tradeoffs at all.

Comment by kenny on Public selves · 2021-01-19T20:41:24.094Z · LW · GW

That's not propaganda papering over a forgettable version of myself, it's just correct gameplay.

I very much think I understand this perspective but yet I also sometimes find that a specific "gameplay" to be, e.g. restrictive, 'degenerate' (in a gameplay sense), or some degree of un-fun/bad.

Just considering the 'gameplay mechanic' 'smalltalk' – I can and often do enjoy it, but it can also be a thankless chore (or worse).

The phrase "correct gameplay" makes me think of consequentialism and 'shutting-up-and-multiplying'. But beyond understanding that there is a best 'move', I can't perfectly escape thoughts about the possibility of playing different games.

There's also not just one 'game', as you and others have pointed out, but there's also not just one level of games either and an aspect of 'meta-gaming' is deciding whether or not to play specific games at all. In the expansive myriads-of-games-at-criss-crossing-levels-of-meta-gaming perspective, there isn't even any obvious "correct gameplay" at all, which is part of what I think this post was gesturing at.

Comment by kenny on Public selves · 2021-01-18T22:30:02.609Z · LW · GW

Your considerations are all pretty reasonable but I think this post is mostly addressing higher-level considerations and it's specifically focused on something like 'indirect social considerations' and it most reminds me of explicit conscious reasoning about, e.g. whether to 'censor' oneself.

Is what you describe in [1] good generally? What's the cost-benefit analysis of maintaining less 'selves'?

[2] seems to assume that are no significant abstract higher-level considerations, i.e. 'of course it's all dependent of specific contextual details'. I don't disagree – pragmatically – but it does seem to me like a real and significant cost. Are there 'profitable' benefits to coordinating socially to lower those costs?

This idea of shaping your identity doesn't have to feel like hiding or stifling.

I agree somewhat but I'm not sure how useful it is to tell anyone that they don't have to feel some way that they report they do feel. Consciously 'censoring' oneself – or feeling like one is doing that – probably can't usefully also feel like "playing with your range of expression". And is it even possible to entirely avoid feeling like one is "hiding or stifling" if one believes that some (true) info would be damaging if revealed?

Comment by kenny on Public selves · 2021-01-18T22:17:20.905Z · LW · GW

What seems like a principled intermediate option is to find or build a 'Bubble', i.e. a social environment in which one feels (and ideally is) safe to reveal more of one's self publicly.

Comment by kenny on Are UFOs just drones? · 2021-01-18T21:59:03.524Z · LW · GW

Those are very good points about the reliability of the relevant equipment.

I totally agree that physics must apply.

There's a ton of weird electromagnetic atmospheric phenomena that we understand poorly. It is far more likely that the majority of ufos are actually this.

That's interesting that you think this!

Do you have a good sense of numbers, or even just the relative distribution, of various types of reported UFOs?

Off the top of my head, a good number of reliable reports, historically, seem to have been, e.g. experimental aircraft, weather balloons.

Reports of 'abductions' seem fairly unreliable – my prior is that these are likely 'modern reboots' of what were previously supernatural or divine events, e.g. what were previously 'devils' or 'demons' are now 'aliens'. There seems to be a significant background of hallucinations experienced by many people and it seems like this has been true basically forever.

I'd be surprised if 'drones' weren't ever reported as UFOs.

But maybe "weird electromagnetic atmospheric phenomena that we understand poorly" is a better explanation, particularly for what seems like pretty reliable and recent reports of 'objects' for which 'drones' isn't a good explanation.

Comment by kenny on Are UFOs just drones? · 2021-01-15T17:12:06.379Z · LW · GW

I don't know enough about 'generic UFO sightings' to answer.

"actually aliens" seems very very unlikely – definitely not literally impossible tho.

My priors are that a lot of historical UFO sightings really were experimental aircraft. I'd expect some number were early drones too. Others seem to have definitely been, e.g. weather balloons.

Other sightings, particularly the relatively well-documented recent ones, seem very similar to 'ball lightning', which is also so little understood that it's not even clear that it's real. Assuming those observations are both accurate (e.g. the relevant 'equipment' was working correctly) and being interpreted accurately, they don't seem to be drones, unless the drones themselves include novel propulsion systems (which is very plausible assuming the existence of such novel systems).

(And, as a a kind of reference point, 'rogue waves' seem to have been similarly so hard to study, until very recently, that their existence wasn't entirely clear.)

Comment by kenny on Are UFOs just drones? · 2021-01-15T17:00:59.942Z · LW · GW

Yes, I agree with everything you wrote, but the caveats are where I'd focus any investigation:

  1. Is the equipment functioning properly?
  2. Are there other plausible interpretations of the data gathered by that equipment?

Some of the best UFO sightings seem pretty similar to 'ball lightning' which also isn't either well-explained or particularly well observed. (I think there's one plausibly somewhat-detailed observation of it to-date.)

I don't know enough ufology to know what the deal is there.

I also don't know enough about specific events, the observations made, the raw data collected for those events, etc..

Comment by kenny on Covid 1/7: The Fire of a Thousand Suns · 2021-01-15T16:53:31.189Z · LW · GW

You (or someone) could use a payment processor with a subscription feature, e.g. Stripe, and lose only 2.9+%.

Maybe the easiest/cheapest option would be to just create a new email address and accept direct payments via Zelle/Venmo/PayPal/etc., but some of those don't support recurring payments.

Comment by kenny on Are UFOs just drones? · 2021-01-14T18:07:21.268Z · LW · GW

But how plausible is the evidence that the observations really (accurately) are of "a case of anomalous compared to matter"?

Like, what's the evidence that what's been observed – and among the best data, i.e. "footage and data released by military and other official channels" – really has been of solid objects?

I don't recall the newer (and better) evidence being of solid objects but of 'lights'.

(I'm genuinely curious about both questions. I read about, or even watched some, of the recentish U.S. Navy (?) pilots observing a UFO off the cost of California (?) but I don't remember any particular evidence about the object(s) being solid.)

Comment by kenny on Avoid Unnecessarily Political Examples · 2021-01-14T18:06:22.091Z · LW · GW

This is kind of reasonable, but I think it should be rounded-off to ignored – in this case.

In general, language is 'merely reasonable' – it's always a bit Humpty-Dumpty.

I don't think the use of any phrase, historical or not, could be considered explicit reference of its "context".

Even words like 'family', historically, sometimes referred to the 'servants' (and slaves) of a household. But it seems reasonable to continue using 'family' – the common agreement of English speakers/listeners/writers/readers is that's perfectly okay and unobjectionable.

Or maybe you're right? 'delenda est' is very different from 'family'. There really aren't any other uses or interpretations beyond, at most, metaphorical violence. I certainly don't like (some) other violent words or phrases (sometimes), even when they're obviously metaphorical. And it's not obviously wrong to think that avoiding 'violent' language might be net-good anyways.

But this post was cross-posted from the author's personal blog and is a (mildly) contentious exception to the kinds of posts that are normally considered worth listing on the 'front page' of the site. Because of that, I'm still inclined to let this pass.

But I've definitely changed my mind about the phrase being entirely innocuous.

Comment by kenny on Covid 1/7: The Fire of a Thousand Suns · 2021-01-14T17:17:37.598Z · LW · GW

Aaron gave me the details on how best to pay you but it's not info I'd publicize without your explicit consent.

I'd like to pay you, others seem to want to do the same thing, but I don't want to create extra work for you for this.

Would you mind someone setting up a Patreon on your behalf and then paying you any money collected via it (i.e. via the method Aaron shared)?

Comment by kenny on Avoid Unnecessarily Political Examples · 2021-01-12T22:25:19.684Z · LW · GW

That's good data – thanks!

I agree that "debate is war; arguments are soldiers" is probably a better rhetorical tactic than "politics is the mindkiller". The latter's much more of an 'insider' phrase.

Comment by kenny on Avoid Unnecessarily Political Examples · 2021-01-12T22:22:41.655Z · LW · GW


This is a useful thing that's often done on Stack Overflow too – 'duplicate' questions are closed and linked to the 'original' question but not deleted. That allows multiple 'vectors' (e.g. via different web searches) to converge on canonical info.

What you pointed out is different – approaching "the same point from a different level of group development" – but seems broadly similar and, I'd guess, would be similarly useful.

Comment by kenny on Avoid Unnecessarily Political Examples · 2021-01-12T22:19:45.132Z · LW · GW

Those are the reference category of counter-examples to the current system and some of us are uncomfortable with them as-is. (I'm mostly fine with them overall, all things considered.)

Calling for the "delenda" of the WHO, or the FDA, seem obviously different than the 'original' usage, e.g. "Carthago delenda est!". Zvi is calling for radical reform, or possibly (?) abolishment, of government organizations – not the literal destruction of their leaders or employees.

Referring to DeBlasio as a "worst person" is also pretty narrowly restricted to his pandemic-related actions.

On second thought – you're right that there's pretty overt politicization, but maybe not in the 'standard' (prototypical) U.S. left-versus-right – it's more a 'pandemic-emergency versus business-as-usual' pair of coalitions (as I understand it). This seems – to me – pretty orthogonal to the standard left-versus-right conflicts. But they are overtly political.

I'm still inclined to give those posts a pass on that kind of thing given the enormous value those posts otherwise have. (I also share the general 'delenda est' sentiment towards the referenced organizations and administrations – as organizations and administrations, not as groups of individual people. So I'm definitely biased.)

Comment by kenny on Covid 1/7: The Fire of a Thousand Suns · 2021-01-12T06:47:01.969Z · LW · GW

What was that lesson?

That's there's no widespread support for allocating scarce resources by price.

Comment by kenny on Covid 1/7: The Fire of a Thousand Suns · 2021-01-12T06:30:21.786Z · LW · GW

Any reason(s) why the crowdfunding isn't public? Patreon seems like it would be really easy.

Comment by kenny on Are UFOs just drones? · 2021-01-11T22:06:55.612Z · LW · GW

Nothing needs a single explanation, so no. But this seems pretty uncharitable as-is; or maybe a kind of covert radical skepticism. Or maybe I'm just failing to think of a better set of multiple explanations – what is yours?

To clarify, by "UFOs" I was thinking of what, in this answer, is referred to as "Masses that move at ludicrous velocities and perform hard stops, turns, and accelerations.".

Obviously, there's a big space of possible objects that could be considered 'UFOs':

  1. Flying objects that can't (or just weren't in some specific instance) be identified to some standard resolution, e.g. 'That looks like a X aircraft but a little different.'
  2. Objects or phenomena that aren't flying but appear to be, e.g. due to a mirage.

My question is implicitly ignoring [2]. It's also ignoring 'mundane' instances of [1], e.g. weather balloons, (early) experimental aircraft, stealth/spy aircraft. Those seem all accounted for by reasonable common-sense explanations, e.g. someone saw an aircraft they didn't recognize or couldn't clearly identify.

The specific subset of [1] that didn't (at the time) seem explainable as aircraft, because they (seemed to) move in ways that aircraft can't/couldn't, seems much more likely to me to be people observing drones, e.g. un-piloted aircraft. And, given that UFOs (by definition) can't be clearly identified, it seems likely that observations about them might be inaccurate, e.g. because their distance, velocity, or movements might not be accurately observable (especially given the salient comparisons available to observers). So what seems like objects that exhibit "ludicrous velocities and perform hard stops, turns, and accelerations" might well just be un-piloted aircraft that can exhibit a smaller degree of those same characteristics (because they're not constrained by needing to not kill or injure pilots or passengers).

Obviously this couldn't explain things like, e.g. Bob Lazars claims.

Comment by kenny on Are UFOs just drones? · 2021-01-11T21:34:38.341Z · LW · GW

Masses that move at ludicrous velocities and perform hard stops, turns, and accelerations.

What I'm thinking here – in the form of the proposed hypothesis in the question – is that the anomalous movements are anomalous relative to aircraft, which, until recently, were all piloted (as far as the 'public' knew). Un-piloted craft are capable of (relatively) "hard stops, turns, and accelerations" that pilots can't physically withstand.

If the movements people are observing really do consist of "ludicrous velocities and perform hard stops, turns, and accelerations" – even assuming the UFOs are un-piloted (or not piloted by humans or somehow don't have the expected effects on their pilots or passengers) – then I readily admit that they can't be (mundane) drones as they are widely/publicly understood.

But I'm not sure how much weight to put on the 'ludcrity' of observations generally.

Comment by kenny on Bets, Bonds, and Kindergarteners · 2021-01-11T21:29:15.875Z · LW · GW

Yes! Bets – and even just 'modeling' owning-up to being wrong – are wonderful tools, especially for children (as they haven't learned that most people avoid them).

This 'area' came up (in my mind) most recently in a disagreement about something my child was taught in school. We didn't bet tho and the outcome turned out to neither fully support either 'side' – but that's a good opportunity too for learning about disagreement and updating on new evidence.

I haven't yet spotted an opportunity for using 'bonds' but now I'll look for them even more vigorously!

I do think there is some risk with this approach that the child will have a bad time just to get the money, or say they are having a bad time and they are actually not, but this isn't something we've run into.

I've run into this – in 'pre-bet' circumstances – but it seemed easy enough to 'strategically dissuade' by expressing skepticism of their sentiments; that's resulted in honest confessions the few times it's come up.

Comment by kenny on Bets, Bonds, and Kindergarteners · 2021-01-11T21:22:11.567Z · LW · GW

I've made sure my child has a 'budget' they can spend – and some portion on anything (that's not egregiously dangerous or inappropriate). That seems to have quickly demonstrated the value of money to them.

But I like betting with any kind of payouts too – and you can approximate 'odds' by agreeing to 'lopsided' payouts, e.g. 'you have to give me a hug if you lose; I'll take you to the Zoo if you win'.

Comment by kenny on Covid 11/12: The Winds of Winter · 2021-01-08T21:25:22.737Z · LW · GW

I was following the GitHub project directly for a good while and that was a great way to follow your activity. And it's impressive! You all are killing it! Thanks again!

Comment by kenny on Signalling & Simulacra Level 3 · 2021-01-08T21:23:26.058Z · LW · GW

There's an attention component to chunking. I could chunk some set of things into neat categories – if I examined it closely for a sufficient duration. But I mostly don't – relative to all possible things I could be examining.

Comment by kenny on Signalling & Simulacra Level 3 · 2021-01-08T21:21:32.222Z · LW · GW

I agree that chunking precedes naming – historically. But I think most (a lot?) of people learn the name first and have to (try to) reverse engineer the chunking. Some of this definitely happens iteratively and interactively, e.g. when teaching children.

And I'm very unsure that there is one simple way for "how we chunk the world into objects". I think that might explain why some people chunk the same words so differently: there's no (obvious) unique best way to chunk some ideas for everyone.

I know that people that are relatively competent at chess reliably chunk board states in a way that I know that I don't (as I'm not at all good at chess).

Similarly, people that already knows a variety of different plants (at least) seems to chunk them in a way that I don't.

We must do that before attaching the word "tree" to the concept, because otherwise it would take millions of examples to hone in on which concept the word is trying to point to.

I don't think this is true. If anything, some ideas/concepts seem to start with very coarse chunking based on a very small number of prototypical examples, and then it does take 'millions' of subsequent examples to refine the chunking. And that is definitely sometimes mediated directly via language.

I think there is a lot of pre-verbal or non-verbal chunking involved in thinking.

But I also think it's very common to not have a chunk ("concept") before learning the word, even of something like apples.

Tho I also think the opposite is pretty common – 'Oh, that's the word for those!'.

Comment by kenny on Signalling & Simulacra Level 3 · 2021-01-08T21:03:53.875Z · LW · GW

OK, but I claim there is a difference between "literally" and a mere intensifier.

I'm confused. Perhaps we're writing past each other!

There is a meaning or sense of 'literally' that is not an intensifier – I believe this is true.

In most cases, for myself personally (and subject to all of the limitations of this kind of memory and for myself personally), I seem to be able to interpret specific uses of "literally" unambiguously.

There are occasional exceptions tho!

Also, people who can't tell the difference between "A->B" and "A, and also B" are pretty frustrating to talk to.

I agree!

I agree that there isn't some general method to distinguish the cloud from the literal meaning, or pick out which literal meaning, but I claim people do anyway, sometimes making quite a strong distinction.

I agree – people do it (pretty reliably) anyway and there can be arbitrarily strong distinctions maintained.

Comment by kenny on Netflix's "Start-Up" and sincere work dramatization · 2021-01-07T19:34:24.211Z · LW · GW

'Competence' is one of my favorite subjects in narrative media; probably because I too enjoy gaining it myself both at work and outside of it.

Comment by kenny on Signalling & Simulacra Level 3 · 2020-11-17T01:30:07.403Z · LW · GW

You have a concept of apples before learning the word (otherwise you wouldn't know which thing in our very-high-dimensional world to tie the word to; word-learning does not require nearly enough examples to narrow down the concept space without some pre-existing concept).

That doesn't seem right, intuitively. People (humans) have pre-existing capabilities ('instincts'), by the time they're learning words, and one of them is the ability to 'follow pointing', i.e. look at something someone else is pointing at. In practice, that can involve considerable iteration, e.g. 'no not that other round red (or green) thing; this one right here'.

The parts of our minds that learn words also seem to have access to an API for analyzing and then later recognizing specific visual patterns, e.g. shapes, colors, materials, and faces. The internals of that visual-system API are pretty sophisticated too.

Well, really I'm talking about the idealized theoretical Bayesian version of that thing. Point is, it should not require other agents in the picture, including your parents.

Learning language must require other agents, at least indirectly, tho – right? It only exists because some agents use (or used) it.

But I'm skeptical that an 'idealized theoretical Bayesian agent' could learn language on its own – there is no such thing as "an ideal philosophy student of perfect emptiness".

Comment by kenny on Signalling & Simulacra Level 3 · 2020-11-17T01:21:36.665Z · LW · GW

This is the type of thinking that can't tell the difference between "a implies b" and "a, and also b" -- because people almost always endorse both "a" and "b" when they say "a implies b".

This is the type of thinking where disagreement tends to be regarded as a social attack, because disagreement is associated with social attack.

This is the type of thinking where we can't ever have a phrase meaning "honestly" or "literally" or "no really, I'm not bulshitting you on this one" because if such a phrase existed then it would immediately be co-opted by everyone else as a mere intensifier.

This "type of thinking" sure seems very accurate to me.

In particular, the third paragraph quoted above seems spectacularly accurate, e.g. the euphemism treadmill.

Alice: "I just don't understand why I don't see Cedrick any more."

Bob: "He's married now."

We infer from this that the marriage creates some kind of obstacle. Perhaps Cedrick is too busy to come over. Or Bob is implying that it would be inappropriate for Cedrick to frequently visit Alice, a single woman. None of this is literally said, but a cloud of conversational implicature surrounds the literal text. The signalling analysis can't distinguish this cloud from the literal meaning.

I'm not sure this is quite true. Just because every utterance produces a 'cloud of implicature' doesn't mean 'literal meaning' isn't also a component of the signal.

And, in practice, it doesn't seem like there is any general way to distinguish the cloud from the literal meaning. One problem being which literal meaning should be considered the literal meaning?

Like logical uncertainty, I see this as a challenge in the integration of logic and probability. In some sense, the signalling theory only allows for reasoning by association rather than structured logical reasoning, because the meaning of any particular thing is just its probabilistic associations.

I'm confused why this is a 'challenge' – or a surprising one anyways. It certainly seems (again!) astonishingly accurate to describe most people as "reasoning by association".

Where do these crisp ontologies come from, if (under the signalling theory of meaning) symbols only have probabilistic meanings?

Wouldn't they come from mostly (or 'almost perfectly') certain meanings? Practically, words seem to almost never correspond to a particularly crisp ontology (compare to, e.g. the elements or subject of a mathematical theory). I don't think there's any word that would – under all circumstances or in all situations – have a (unique) 'literal meaning'.

The explanation of how communication can (reliably) convey 'literal meanings' seems to boil down to 'with great effort, arbitrary depths of circumlocution, and (still) only ever approximately'.

Comment by kenny on Covid 11/12: The Winds of Winter · 2020-11-13T18:31:30.007Z · LW · GW

Please heavily weight your own time and effort in your considerations about how to publish the updates. I'm a little sad that you described it as having "slacked off". The dev-update you linked to looks like it must have taken a good while to create!

Comment by kenny on Covid 11/12: The Winds of Winter · 2020-11-13T18:22:20.986Z · LW · GW

That was my basic understanding as well. The claims in these kinds of press releases would be particularly scrutinized by, e.g. the SEC, FDA, etc..

I hadn't known until I met someone that did it, but many (basically all?) companies have investor relations personnel or consultants. I know that some of those IR people also specialize in pharmaceutical or biomedical companies. They would definitely be involved in writing these kinds of press releases too.

Comment by kenny on Covid 11/12: The Winds of Winter · 2020-11-13T03:19:01.548Z · LW · GW

Thanks again!

Comment by kenny on Covid 11/12: The Winds of Winter · 2020-11-13T03:16:33.111Z · LW · GW

I sympathize, but I think it's better if we allow this kind of thing, generally, under the conditions 'we' require now.

And, as other comments mention, you can discuss these things, even on LessWrong. And I think it should be fine to make a comment, e.g. on this post, linking to your own response to the 'forbidden' topics.

Comment by kenny on Covid 11/12: The Winds of Winter · 2020-11-13T03:13:05.989Z · LW · GW

I'd very much like to read about bugs, or other changes, even if they don't warrant a big announcement. Maybe the team could post on the site itself, with a special tag that can be followed separately (if you don't want to include them in the 'all posts' feed).

Thanks for your help keeping this site running!

Comment by kenny on Covid 11/12: The Winds of Winter · 2020-11-13T03:07:17.741Z · LW · GW

How strong as evidence are similar press releases tho? Pharmaceutical companies create lots of press releases.

Comment by kenny on Is corruption a valuable antidote to overregulation? · 2020-11-13T03:03:44.865Z · LW · GW

There's a reason this post is a question and not an essay. I point to something unclear that I don't understand well.

Sorry if it wasn't clear but I'm also trying to make sense of your question and understanding what you mean by 'corruption' was my most significant obstacle.

The standard working definition of corruption I use is that it's about trading things of different domains.

My problem with this is that it still seems too nebulous. I'm not sure how to answer the question without having a sharper distinction for what is and isn't 'corruption' so as to at least estimate its total costs and benefits.

You mentioned "white-hat lobbying" and that's exactly what I was thinking of when I asked whether you consider lobbying itself to be a form of corruption. From the evidence and info I've gleaned from the lobbyist I know, there's quite a bit of the 'mechanics' involved, e.g. in 'accessing' politicians, that seems at least a little corrupt.

And I've read a reasonable defense of corruption in general arguing that, in effect, corruption provided something liked liquidity to political markets and that made negotiation among coalitions generally easier to conduct (which is itself arguably good). I'm very sympathetic to that.

I'm sorry I haven't been able to provide a clear answer or even clear thinking about your question. I think it's an interesting question tho!

Comment by kenny on Is corruption a valuable antidote to overregulation? · 2020-11-11T06:08:41.869Z · LW · GW

Okay, that's along the lines of what I remembered from reading reviews of Caro's book – Moses's 'corruption' was, at least generally, atypical, e.g. not bribery or blatantly abusing his power. It was in a sense a much more subtle form of corruption, in large part because it wasn't obviously corruption at all.

My problem with this line of thinking is that indicts basically all political actors:

That was in Robert Moses early days when he didn't have a lot of people directly on his payrol but it's a nice example of him doing things that allow his projects to move fast that would never go through today. Later examples are more complex because it's the web of relationships he build that prevented opposition to any project he wanted to do.

You just described basically every politician. While it's certainly common to complain 'all politicians are corrupt', it's a kind of 'fallacy of grey' for eliding any degree or detail of how corrupt various acts are.

Would you consider Uber or Airbnb to have engaged in corruption?

I don't know. Both started by simply ignoring the law in many jurisdictions. Later they hired political insiders to lobby. From the outside it's hard to know whether or not those political insiders use means that we should call corrupt to get laws changed.

Right – that's what I was getting at because I thought your conception of 'corruption' was too vague and too expansive.

Is "simply ignoring the law" corrupt?

Is hiring lobbyists corrupt?

Is lobbying itself corrupt? (I'd imagine you'd agree it's not, apart from 'stereotypical lobbying', and maybe even not then.)

They don't seem to be powerful enough in a state like California to get the law reducing their ability to hire independent contractors from getting passed which suggests that they do have some inability to corrupt that legislative process.

Is the ability to influence a bill being passed, and exercising that ability, corruption? Is it only corrupt if you're a corporation or its agent?

I'm not sure what you mean by 'corrupt' in "corrupt that legislative process". It seems like any effect they caused on the bill passing or not would be corruption. That doesn't seem right.

Comment by kenny on Yes to Feature Requests, No to Entitlement · 2020-11-11T05:57:07.892Z · LW · GW

I agree with your take.

I think Gibson's stance is coming from the same place as anger or outrage over big profitable businesses using open source software without financially contributing to its development or maintenance. This is very understandable! And I suspect what they really want is not financial assistance ongoing as much as a reward for the prior work.

A blanket ban on asking for unpaid labor, i.e. asking for volunteers, seems ... ridiculously excessive? It's hard to know exactly how they'd imagine that ban working in practice (even if it's only enforced by social norms).

I suspect open source might effectively be something like a workaround for the practical difficulties of paying for software.

It's easy enough (if expensive!) to pay a programmer or a team of them for some purpose, e.g. writing or maintaining software. It's much harder to succeed at the larger purpose, or even the instrumental purpose of writing correct-enough software, let alone to do either for a long time.

To then add on the top of all of that some kind of piecemeal each-feature-is-a-contract financing/purchasing seems like it would almost inevitably cause the relevant transaction costs to explode! How would they be billed? A flat rate set by the developer or maintainer? Surely the benevolent dictator, or oligarchy, or whatever, would receive the money but also be obligated to give or share some of any payments with the individual contributors that actually write or modify the relevant code, right? That seems like something that would very quickly become awful, especially for the median open source developer/maintainer/contributor.

The workaround then – to avoid basically being required to become a software company – is for people to write whatever code they want to write, share it with whomever they want, and cooperate or coordinate with whomever else is also willing. Adding some money – possibly; subject to (inevitable) dispute! – seems likely to be strictly worse than working for free, or for a software company.

The somewhat viable middle ground is, e.g. Patreon, a simple regular (ideally, recurring) transfer or payment to someone or some team for their prior work on ongoing efforts.

Comment by kenny on Is corruption a valuable antidote to overregulation? · 2020-11-09T22:00:04.890Z · LW · GW

Would you consider Uber or Airbnb to have engaged in corruption?

I'm not sure what connections you think exist between Robert Mose's corruption and him building a lot of things. I can't think of any off-hand.

Generally, some examples would be helpful; perhaps both central or prototypical ones as well as some you'd consider to be edge cases.

Comment by kenny on Is corruption a valuable antidote to overregulation? · 2020-11-09T21:52:49.861Z · LW · GW

This is a great question!

Comment by kenny on Automated intelligence is not AI · 2020-11-09T04:10:55.057Z · LW · GW

I didn't understand (remember) Dennett's distinctions between the design and intentional stances. I was thinking that design is a feature or part of intentional systems, e.g. a rabbit mold or the intricate structure of a (living) rabbit's leg. They both seem to be for some purpose.

After skimming the Wikipedia article on the intentional stance I realized I was thinking of 'design stance' as you correctly pointed out.

Maybe I was conflating the two because of the idea that a sufficiently complicated design might seem (or even be usefully modeled as) intentional? Like thinking of Nature as an intentional system designing rabbits (and people that then design rabbit molds).

Comment by kenny on Automated intelligence is not AI · 2020-11-06T01:10:03.088Z · LW · GW

Yes, that's a great intuition pump of his – the 'intentional stance', i.e. many systems act as if they had reasons or purpose.

Comment by kenny on Automated intelligence is not AI · 2020-11-05T23:51:19.605Z · LW · GW

I was also a little confused about the post's initial claim:

Sometimes we think of ‘artificial intelligence’ as whatever technology ultimately automates human cognitive labor.

Maybe I haven't encountered thoughts like that much, or I've been reading too much David Chapman, but my immediate thought after reading the above was something like 'most human cognitive labor isn't automated by technology but obviated, usually by engineering the relevant environment'.

Comment by kenny on Trick-or-treating in Covid Times · 2020-11-05T23:48:36.232Z · LW · GW

This comes across as a little off-topic and 'politicsy' (which we generally try to minimize).

It's also not true that the rules for Jeff's specific jurisdiction make "absolutely no sense". And some of his readers are people that live in the area so it's useful for him to discuss new rules as they're made and share his judgement of how good or bad he thinks they are.

Overall, I read your comment as criticizing for Jeff mentioning his city's "lockdown rules" at all, which is not a welcome sentiment generally.

Comment by kenny on Trick-or-treating in Covid Times · 2020-11-05T23:40:43.141Z · LW · GW

I think you made a good effort at intellectual charity!

Comment by kenny on Covid Covid Covid Covid Covid 10/29: All We Ever Talk About · 2020-11-05T23:40:26.258Z · LW · GW

Cool! Thanks!

Comment by kenny on How to Find the Frontiers of Knowledge · 2020-11-05T04:26:36.349Z · LW · GW


Comment by kenny on Covid Covid Covid Covid Covid 10/29: All We Ever Talk About · 2020-11-04T22:10:37.944Z · LW · GW

Thanks again for this wonderful series of posts!

Comment by kenny on Covid Covid Covid Covid Covid 10/29: All We Ever Talk About · 2020-11-04T22:08:07.504Z · LW · GW

As an 'initial move' in the pandemic game, I sympathize with allocating-via-money as 'crazy'. But not doing that also has a significant opportunity cost long-term, e.g. foregoing resources for further production of vaccines that people want.

Comment by kenny on Covid Covid Covid Covid Covid 10/29: All We Ever Talk About · 2020-11-04T22:04:53.162Z · LW · GW

Authorities seem to think the masses are stupid

I've found this to be much worse than just what you're claiming. Like how 'most people claim to be above average', I've noticed a lot of people claiming that most other people are stupid.

That's a really weird situation – a significant proportion of people think that almost everyone else can't handle hard truths (about whatever).

Or maybe it's pure red tribe blue tribe on a global scale ...

I think this is true, but in a weird 'fractal' number of dimensions beyond the obvious political coalitions. It's more like many-dimensional culture war than pure { red tribe / blue tribe } conflict, at least based on my own experience and personal observations.

Comment by kenny on Covid Covid Covid Covid Covid 10/29: All We Ever Talk About · 2020-11-04T21:56:03.206Z · LW · GW

I think that's reasonably chalked up as the work of Doom Patrolling even if it's not specific to this pandemic. But I expect you're right about the specific reasons for the one year duration.

Comment by kenny on Covid Covid Covid Covid Covid 10/29: All We Ever Talk About · 2020-11-04T21:54:42.983Z · LW · GW

Thanks! This is very interesting.

Wouldn't this apply to other respiratory viruses? Does it?

Is influenza not "an infection of the mucous membrane" too?