## Posts

Comment by kingoftheinternet on How to Convince Me That 2 + 2 = 3 · 2013-03-23T06:48:55.242Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

And he made a molten sea, ten cubits from the one rim to the other it was round all about, and...a line of thirty cubits did compass it round about...

1 Kings 7:23

Comment by kingoftheinternet on Idea: Self-Improving Task Management Software · 2013-02-27T17:42:01.801Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I would use the heck out of this software if it existed, and for that reason I would very much like to assist in writing software like this.

Comment by kingoftheinternet on Memetic Tribalism · 2013-02-14T18:25:45.926Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'm thinking it would best be described as "cultural". Some level of taboo against correcting others unless you're in a socially-approved position to do so (teacher, elder, etc.) is, to my understanding, fairly common among humans, even if it's weaker in our society and time. I brought up the common knowledge thing just because it seems to contradict the idea that a strong urge to correct others could have been particularly adaptive.

Comment by kingoftheinternet on Memetic Tribalism · 2013-02-14T04:24:41.300Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

For some reason "correcting" people's reasoning was important enough in the ancestral environment to be special-cased in motivation hardware.

It feels instinctual to you and many others alive today including myself, but I'm not sure that's evidence enough that it was common in the ancestral environment. Isn't "people are not supposed to disagree with each other on factual matters because anything worth knowing is common knowledge in the ancestral environment" also an ev-pysch proposition?

Comment by kingoftheinternet on Rationality Quotes February 2013 · 2013-02-12T15:06:13.253Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I think the quote's main function is to warn those who don't know anything about programming of a kind of person they're likely to encounter on their journey (people who know everything and think their preferences are very right), and to give them some confidence to resist these people. It also drives home the point that people who know how to program already won't get much out of the book. I quoted it because it addresses a common failure mode of very intelligent and skilled people.

Comment by kingoftheinternet on Rationality Quotes February 2013 · 2013-02-02T21:20:45.368Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Concretely, Milton Friedman probably didn't have a workable plan for bringing about such an environment, though he may have thought he did; I'm not familiar enough with his thinking. One next-best option would be to try to convince other people that that's what part of a solution to bad government would look like, which under a charitable interpretation of his motives, is what he was doing with that statement he made.

Comment by kingoftheinternet on Rationality Quotes February 2013 · 2013-02-02T19:55:50.520Z · score: 18 (18 votes) · LW · GW

I think the spirit of the quote is that instead of counting on anyone to be a both benevolent and effective ruler, or counting on voters to recognize such things, design the political environment so that that will happen naturally, even when an office is occupied by a corrupt or ineffective person.

Comment by kingoftheinternet on Open Thread, February 1-14, 2013 · 2013-02-01T21:06:48.334Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I went the common route of fixing the "learning advanced subjects is hard" problem by studying computer engineering in college, if that's an option you're able to consider. Writing simple code is a just few steps away from writing complex code, and at that point you have something you'll likely be able to make a career out of. "Software is eating the world", as some people accurately quip.

Comment by kingoftheinternet on Open Thread, February 1-14, 2013 · 2013-02-01T20:29:35.813Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The software world could probably scratch your itch pretty well. Have you tried/do you like programming?

Comment by kingoftheinternet on Rationality Quotes February 2013 · 2013-02-01T19:47:05.058Z · score: 13 (27 votes) · LW · GW

If you are reading this book and flipping out at every third sentence because you feel I'm insulting your intelligence, then I have three points of advice for you:

• Stop reading my book. I didn't write it for you. I wrote it for people who don't already know everything.

• Empty before you fill. You will have a hard time learning from someone with more knowledge if you already know everything.

• Go learn Lisp. I hear people who know everything really like Lisp.

For everyone else who's here to learn, just read everything as if I'm smiling and I have a mischievous little twinkle in my eye.

Introduction to Learn Python The Hard Way, by Zed A. Shaw

Comment by kingoftheinternet on The Zeroth Skillset · 2013-01-30T15:30:33.743Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW
Comment by kingoftheinternet on The Hidden B.I.A.S. · 2013-01-26T17:53:37.682Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Preserving that information makes it much more likely you'll be reproduced accurately and in a timely manner and in a situation you would be able to enjoy, rather than in twenty quintillion years because of quantum noise or some such. Part of the point of preserving your state until it can be transferred to a more durable artifact is that there's some chain of causal events between who you were when your state was recorded, and who "you" are when that state is hopefully resumed; many people seem to value that quite a bit. You should try to avoid death regardless of your beliefs about cryonics, identity, or just about anything else.

Comment by kingoftheinternet on The Hidden B.I.A.S. · 2013-01-26T01:40:58.015Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

You wrote this LessWrong post about cryonics being a good idea under the assumption that your readers would disagree with an argument from the core sequences which is usually used to support the "cryonics is a good idea" conclusion on LessWrong? To each his own.

Here are the real/hypothetical cases that mostly formed my answer to your last question:

• If you were to replace every neuron in your brain with a robotic cell exactly simulating its function, one neuron at a time and timed such that your cognition is totally unaffected during the process, would this cause you any doubts about your identity?

• Why doesn't the interruption in your conscious experience caused by going to sleep make you think you're "a different person" in any sense once you wake up, keeping in mind that a continuous identity couldn't possibly have anything to do with being made of the same stuff? What about when people are rendered temporarily unconscious by physical trauma, drugs, or other things that the brain don't have as much control over as sleeping?

Comment by kingoftheinternet on The Hidden B.I.A.S. · 2013-01-25T05:00:44.086Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

"...Cryonics in some way preserves the original material, but your Speedy-dupe vaporizes it. The copy which emerges ten years later is not a direct continuation of the original physical material."

I would guess that many people here disagree with that assessment.

If the pattern is recreated precisely (or even well enough) at a temporal or spacial distance from the original, what is actually different between Speedy-dupe and Cryonics?

Not much. Both are processes that send a snapshot of the physical implementation of all the algorithms that are collectively called a person/"soul" through time or space.

Comment by kingoftheinternet on January 2013 Media Thread · 2013-01-08T16:33:58.700Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

musicForProgramming();

Comment by kingoftheinternet on Gun Control: How would we know? · 2012-12-21T16:56:00.167Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

1) Almost zero, of course. How should that affect our interpretation of that fact?

I don't understand what you mean by the second question.

Comment by kingoftheinternet on Gun Control: How would we know? · 2012-12-21T05:42:31.027Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

That could definitely apply to a lot of the examples they presented. I'm still mystified by Washington D.C.: they already had a higher murder rate than the US average, then handguns were banned in 1975, then their murder rate tripled while the national average stayed fairly flat, then their murder rate came back down to its mid-70s level in the late 2000s, then the handgun ban was struck down. My current favored conclusion from that is "gun control laws themselves just don't matter very much, and are dwarfed by other social and cultural forces."

Comment by kingoftheinternet on Gun Control: How would we know? · 2012-12-21T05:29:23.219Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

They explain how they found that number here. I'm pretty impressed with their methodology, though I'm also sure you have a point about people exaggerating their chances of dying regardless of what clever study authors do.

Comment by kingoftheinternet on Gun Control: How would we know? · 2012-12-21T00:27:30.782Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

My strategy in these cases is usually "look for lots of facts relevant to this issue and see what stands out". The things that jump out at me from just that page:

• Many American cities/states (and the entire UK in one very interesting case) have instituted or repealed gun control laws long enough ago that we can look at what happens to violent crime before and after the law is changed. In every case that they showed me, at least, places that pass gun control laws see an increase or no real change in their violent crime rate relative to national average.
• 1/3 of incarcerated US felons claimed to have been shot at, scared off, wounded, or captured by an armed victim, but only 1/12 of violent crimes committed in the US ever result in a prison sentence. My interpretation of these two numbers combined is that owning a gun makes it more likely that anyone who tries to commit a violent crime against you will not be successful, and also will more likely be punished by prison time and/or being shot.
• Just 8% of violent crimes are committed by someone visibly armed with a gun.
• About 11,000 murders per year are committed by gun in the US (in 2008), and about 160,000 people (in 1993) claim they've used a gun for self-defense in a situation within the last five years where someone would have died had they not had a gun. Based on these two numbers alone, and probably not exercising as much care as I should in producing such a pithy and easily-repeatable factoid, widely available guns (in the context of American society in the recent past) prevent on the order of three deaths for every one they cause.

The relative lack of facts that would justify stronger gun control laws on that site makes me suspicious, but I don't see anything wrong with the cited sources for any of these specific numbers.

Comment by kingoftheinternet on Wanted: Rationalist Pushback (link) · 2012-12-19T03:10:34.316Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

this partiular sequence of events seems to me highly implausible from a naturalistic perspective

You've noticed that too?

Comment by kingoftheinternet on Science, Engineering, and Uncoolness; Here and Now, Then and There · 2012-12-08T20:56:21.692Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

My friends think science is cool. My guess for why some think science is uncool is they think people who like science are uncool, which (among other things) could be rooted in regularly being annoyed, confused, or humiliated by people smarter than themselves. Teaching the dumbest, most resentful portion of society to change their mind seems futile.

Also, is money the sole measure of status? Consider lottery winners, poetry professors, hipsters, oil rig workers, prostitutes...

Comment by kingoftheinternet on New WBE implementation · 2012-11-30T16:00:46.906Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Here's a collection of videos by the researchers on what exactly this thing does. I'm impressed, excited, and worried all at once.

Comment by kingoftheinternet on [META] Retributive downvoting: Why? · 2012-11-27T19:00:49.430Z · score: 2 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Let it be known that I've upvoted all of your things to counteract whichever person downvoted all of your things, and nobody else should do that.

Comment by kingoftheinternet on [META] Retributive downvoting: Why? · 2012-11-27T18:55:06.105Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

On individual comments and posts, the karma system is valuable for telling you if you're being stupid or not, and I appreciate it for that. The total karma score is (how long you've been on LW) (how often you post) (how much people like what you say); it says something like "how much you contribute to this site", which I find much less interesting, and I personally don't care if it's accurate.

I am, in fact, accusing people who downvote all posts by one person as using their time incorrectly; there are so many other things they could be doing that would make them happier and better-off, including nothing at all, that there's not much excuse for going through with it.

If my karma were reduced to zero, I would continue carrying on as I do now, commenting on this and that, and my karma would from then on be a positive number I don't pay attention to. A phlegmatic disposition has its advantages.

Comment by kingoftheinternet on [META] Retributive downvoting: Why? · 2012-11-27T18:40:40.500Z · score: -3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Perhaps you could convince someone who wasn't very interested in the discussion to blindly upvote all of your posts, to counteract it? You are right that this has an impact on ongoing discussions, but it can also be undone with the help of a kindly stranger.

Comment by kingoftheinternet on [META] Retributive downvoting: Why? · 2012-11-27T04:12:13.292Z · score: 9 (19 votes) · LW · GW

Someone spending their precious time going through someone's history to decrease their near-meaningless number as much as they possibly can is already losing. I hear about this happening so infrequently, and it's so totally inconsequential, that I don't think it merits thinking up/making changes to anything.

Comment by kingoftheinternet on Struck with a belief in Alien presence · 2012-11-11T21:17:12.842Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Beliefs don't exist outside of people (and other animals). If we want to talk about beliefs, we have to point inside at least one person's head.

Comment by kingoftheinternet on Struck with a belief in Alien presence · 2012-11-11T21:13:00.831Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

In your original post, you just presented Youtube videos. People here have very low expectations for videos about aliens on Youtube. If you'd linked to just that Blue Book report first then I bet people would've been much more receptive to what you have to say.

Comment by kingoftheinternet on Struck with a belief in Alien presence · 2012-11-11T20:55:01.227Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

You mean in the History channel documentary and other videos on Youtube, or something else? I don't usually like consuming knowledge in documentary form because it's 1. slower than reading and 2. much easier to make emotion-based/nonsensical arguments without your audience noticing. Perhaps you could provide us with a summary of what happened when people tested Giles' explanations? If there's good text-based discussion you can link to us then I'd also be interested in that.

Comment by kingoftheinternet on Struck with a belief in Alien presence · 2012-11-11T19:25:33.470Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

If you want that to happen then you're going to need to do it yourself. Nobody else here is interested enough in this subject.

Comment by kingoftheinternet on Voting is like donating thousands of dollars to charity · 2012-11-05T07:28:42.451Z · score: 8 (10 votes) · LW · GW

This is an expected utility calculation that involves a small probability of a large payoff with large margins of error. Here's what I take as the essence of Holden's post: "an estimate with little enough estimate error can almost be taken literally, while an estimate with large enough estimate error ends ought to be almost ignored." I have very little confidence in both my and Academian's estimate of which candidates winning will actually turn out to be better overall, and what the monetary value of each winning over their alternatives would actually be. Obama may seem to align with my values slightly more than Romney, but an office as powerful as the President of the US has many small, complex effects on many people's quality of life, and we could all easily be wrong.

Comment by kingoftheinternet on Voting is like donating thousands of dollars to charity · 2012-11-05T02:39:42.180Z · score: 1 (13 votes) · LW · GW
Comment by kingoftheinternet on Things philosophers have debated · 2012-11-01T15:08:44.391Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

A trivialist would insist that "Trivialists argue $\neg(p\wedge\neg p$) is false" is true. Believing that you're arguing something isn't quite the same as arguing something, but I wanted to point out that under trivialism, trivialists think they're arguing for and against all propositions simultaneously.

Comment by kingoftheinternet on Things philosophers have debated · 2012-10-31T17:42:12.452Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Trivialists think "Trivialists think trivialism is false" is true.

Comment by kingoftheinternet on Things philosophers have debated · 2012-10-31T16:45:43.126Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Trivialists are!

Comment by kingoftheinternet on [Link] Nobel laureate challenges psychologists to clean up their act · 2012-10-04T02:42:37.033Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The Internet is well-suited to this kind of question. (I assume you weren't just being snarky.)

Comment by kingoftheinternet on Debugging the Quantum Physics Sequence · 2012-09-05T20:38:57.784Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

It seems to me like the universe could be simulated on a quantum computer without quantum mechanics in the simulation, or even in a classical computer with quantum mechanics in the simulation (though it'd take a lot longer of course). The information processing itself is the important part, not the means of processing. This doesn't detract from your argument, which I agree with, I just wanted to point that out.

Comment by kingoftheinternet on Friendly AI and the limits of computational epistemology · 2012-08-08T14:29:49.564Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

the problem with state-machine materialism is not that it models the world in terms of causal interactions between things-with-states; the problem is that it can't go any deeper than that, yet apparently we can.

I may have missed the part where you explained why qualia can't fit into a state machine-model of the universe. Where does the incompatibility come from? I'm aware that it looks like no human-designed mathematical objects have experienced qualia yet, which is some level of evidence for it being impossible, but not so strong that I think you're justified in saying a materialist/mathematical platonist view of reality can never account for conscious experiences.

Comment by kingoftheinternet on Thoughts on a possible solution to Pascal's Mugging · 2012-08-01T13:55:25.444Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

There's a post from GIveWell along these lines that you'll find very informative.

Comment by kingoftheinternet on [Retracted] Simpson's paradox strikes again: there is no great stagnation? · 2012-07-30T22:49:14.899Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

According to Thomas Bayes, the analysis isn't quite wrong. Comment reproduced for your convenience:

Based on the census tables that he cites, here’s what I see for 2005 (in 2005 dollars):

All men: \$31,725

White men: \$32,179

• Soltas says \$31,725, which is the median for all men.

White, not hispanic men: \$35,345

Conard says \$35,200 for white men, which is very close to the number for white, not hispanic. The number he uses for white women is \$19,600. The Census data that Soltas cited shows \$19,451.

Based on this quick comparison, I’m not sure that Soltas has discredited Conard’s analysis.

Comment by kingoftheinternet on Group rationality diary, 7/23/12 · 2012-07-24T21:41:20.978Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I, for one, applaud and admire wsean for basing his emotions on Bayes' theorem instead of bird organs.

Comment by kingoftheinternet on Group rationality diary, 7/23/12 · 2012-07-24T21:27:23.118Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I used CBT to stop biting my fingernails; when I noticed the urge to bite my nails, I put my hand down and focused on the act of stopping. They became much longer than they've ever been in my conscious lifetime, but then I wanted them to be shorter, and I didn't have a nail file, so I bit them down to size. A nail file is on my shopping list.

Comment by kingoftheinternet on What are you counting? · 2012-07-19T13:45:31.768Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

If you're not talking about addition, then why in the name of Odin's glorious beard did you use phrases like "+", "addition", and "counting" in reference to whatever this mathematical operation is? I hope you can imagine why that would be horribly confusing to us. You'd have to specify what this operation is before I contemplate the relation between its input units and output units.

Comment by kingoftheinternet on What are you counting? · 2012-07-19T00:17:13.437Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This may just be my physical science education speaking, but adding two quantities of unit "sheep" and getting a quantity of unit "sheep" and a quantity of unit "sheep interaction" bothers me immensely. In every situation I've ever encountered where quantities were added, and I trusted whoever was doing the adding to have a very good understanding of when you get to describe something as "addition", the resulting quantity had strictly the same dimensions as the originals. Whatever's going on here, it's probably not best described as addition (as Bundle so wonderfully explained).

Comment by kingoftheinternet on What are you counting? · 2012-07-18T15:58:47.369Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

1 sheep in the field right now + 1 sheep in the field right now = 2 sheep in the field right now. If 1 + 1 != 2 then you're overloading the "+" symbol, or you lost track of your units, or some other similar problem. Most of your post is undoubtedly true, but I don't feel edified one bit.

Comment by kingoftheinternet on Rationality and Cancer · 2012-07-11T16:22:56.837Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Robin Hanson has something to say on this issue, of course. For breast, colorectal, prostate, and lung cancers, at the very least, screening seems to have no expected impact on your overall chances of dying.

Comment by kingoftheinternet on Irrationality Game II · 2012-07-06T18:26:56.477Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I want to know which things you've heard or seen that made you believe the United States government provoked the attack on Pearl Harbor. My best reason for doubting you is that I don't recall hearing anything like this before from academics nor interested amateur historians nor conspiracy theorists.

My guess is that the biasing effects of being funneled through a country's school system and subjected to its news are much weaker on those who would find LW interesting than the typical citizen.

Comment by kingoftheinternet on Irrationality Game II · 2012-07-03T19:54:45.438Z · score: 16 (16 votes) · LW · GW

I don't have a lot of strong reasons to disbelieve you, but what evidence makes you think this is so?

Comment by kingoftheinternet on Real World Solutions to Prisoners' Dilemmas · 2012-07-03T12:26:36.801Z · score: 5 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Many uses of the word "rational" here were fine ("rational economic agent" is understandable), but others really bothered me ("It is distasteful and a little bit contradictory to the spirit of rationality to believe it should lose out so badly to simple emotion" -- why perpetuate the Spock myth? I want to show this to my friends!). I have no specific suggestion at hand, but circumlocuting around the word in some of the cases above would bring the article from excellent to perfection.

Comment by kingoftheinternet on Less Wrong Product & Service Recommendations · 2012-07-02T21:46:44.637Z · score: 8 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Mine made me learn where all the wacky symbols used in programming languages are, like {. If there's a key on your keyboard that you didn't learn when you first learned to touch type, but you now use, a blank keyboard will force you to learn to type it without looking at your keyboard.

The showing off is probably more important though.