How much does it cost to design an app? 2021-01-20T17:40:34.476Z
Any rationalist judges? 2021-01-14T23:31:13.246Z
kjz's Shortform 2020-07-22T22:19:28.517Z


Comment by kjz on RadVac Commercial Antibody Test Results · 2021-02-27T17:40:44.708Z · LW · GW

I also strongly upvoted for the same reasons. Very much looking forward to the results of the ELISA mucus test!

Comment by kjz on Judging Our April 2020 Covid-19 Predictions · 2021-02-24T02:38:58.380Z · LW · GW

Bitcoin can only go as low as $0. Bitcoin could, in theory, go up not only to $100k but to $1 million or more.

I'm confused. In theory, $50k currently invested in VTI could also go to any of those values. Is there something I'm missing about the relative likelihood of different outcomes that would make Bitcoin the more attractive investment? I feel like there's some Econ 101 lesson I'm forgetting here.

There’s no trade, since (as many people reminded me) Metaculus is not a prediction market and you can’t trade on its values, but there’s still a big contradiction with market prices here. 

In this case, isn't the trade to just use the info Metaculus provides to inform your trades elsewhere? In a way, that's an advantage of having Metaculus in addition to money-based prediction markets - predictors at money-based vs. points-based prediction markets have different motivations for predicting, so they're likely to be self-selected from different populations and may generate different, complementary predictions. Granted, for any individual question it would be easier to be able to trade directly in the money-based market, but I think there's an overall benefit in having both types available.

Comment by kjz on Making Vaccine · 2021-02-20T13:47:35.226Z · LW · GW

Welcome, and thanks for making your first comment!

As a fellow scientist with decades of experience in the industry, I disagree with several of your claims.

First, you will never know if it really works until you run blinded clinical trials against a placebo. This is the only way to tell and that is why it's required for any new drug/vaccine to be launched on the market. 

Clinical trials are helpful for understanding whether a drug/vaccine works on the population level. But on the individual level, clinical trials are not the only way to tell. For example, you can just take an antibody test and see if it works.

You can't just take a antibody test and see if it works.

Of course you can.

Even if there were the right antibody tests for these peptides

Anna Czarnota posted an initial protocol here. I haven't tried it, but it seems reasonable and likely to provide useful information about one's level of protection.

but without using rigorous scientific method, there could be many other factors why you could see a response. Like you were exposed already to the virus and didn't know it.

The "rigorous scientific method" is not the only way to generate knowledge that allows individuals to update their priors. But setting that aside, the question of whether one's immune response came from the vaccine or from previous exposure to the virus is not very relevant to one's future decision making. Either way, the antibody test provides information about one's current level of immunity, which one can use to update their risk tolerance and behaviors.

It feels like your comments are aimed at the question, "What is the best vaccine (or vaccines) to approve and mass produce for the general population?" which is a perfectly valid and important question. As things currently stand, this relies on the standard clinical trials/FDA approval process. But this process takes a long time and is prone to all sorts of delays and inefficiencies due to politics and organizational maze behaviors, during which the pandemic continues to spread. Realizing that, the radvac developers and many commenters here have been asking a different question: "What can individuals do now (or in a future pandemic) to mitigate their personal risk of being infected?"

Both questions are important, but the large organizations responsible for developing/approving new vaccines have very different incentives than individuals looking for ways to minimize their own risk of infection.

Comment by kjz on What does the FDA actually do between getting the trial results and having their meeting? · 2021-02-14T17:42:23.084Z · LW · GW

I think it's just that a few weeks is the going rate for avoiding blame, as Zvi outlined in his posts Asymmetric Justice and Motive Ambiguity.

A politician can choose between two messages that affirm their loyalty: Advocating a beneficial policy, or advocating a useless and wasteful policy. They choose useless, because the motive behind advocating a beneficial policy is ambiguous. Maybe they wanted people to benefit!

Comment by kjz on How Should We Respond to Cade Metz? · 2021-02-13T21:19:25.267Z · LW · GW

Good question. I hadn't defined it in any more detail in my mind. But my basic thought is that someone should be able to build an online presence under a pseudonym (from the beginning, without having revealed their real name publicly like Scott had) as long as they comply with the rules of the communities they choose to join, without legal obligation to declare their real name. I would imagine some exceptions would have to apply (for example, in the case of a legally enforceable warrant) but others, including journalists, would refer to the pseudonym if they wanted to report on such a person.

But of course there could be unintended consequences of this sort of rule that I haven't considered.

Comment by kjz on How Should We Respond to Cade Metz? · 2021-02-13T17:49:31.890Z · LW · GW

Strongly agree with your analysis.

I also think a lesson to take away here is that, assuming we agree pseudonymity is generally considered a desirable option to have available, it falls on us to assert the right to it. 

Comment by kjz on How Should We Respond to Cade Metz? · 2021-02-13T17:40:10.048Z · LW · GW

I agree this is an important topic for discussion, and I hope others will continue to weigh in with their thoughts. I'm sure this won't be the last time a journalist writes/is interested in writing an article about this community, and it would be good to coordinate around some norms here.

  • Scott was told that the way to get ahead of damaging journalism is to reveal everything they might want to find out. For those of us writing under a pseudonym, should we all just be revealing our real names, and letting friends, family members, and colleagues (where appropriate) know about our connection with SSC and this community?

I'm personally not ready to do that yet. I also feel that revealing it too early would risk some of the positive things I'm trying to do within my community, and I don't want to take that chance.

Comment by kjz on Making Vaccine · 2021-02-13T01:23:29.477Z · LW · GW

Agree with John, thank you so much!

Comment by kjz on Covid 2/11: As Expected · 2021-02-13T01:19:51.366Z · LW · GW

Yes, I think we are all in agreement on the topic. On my first reading, seeing the isolated quote between the other two examples of poor vaccine responses made me think this was another example of a poor response, and the quote itself can be interpreted that way if read alone (i.e. We think only vaccinating 75-year-olds is the correct policy, and it's hard but necessary work to enforce it).

Comment by kjz on Covid 2/11: As Expected · 2021-02-13T01:07:24.249Z · LW · GW

The loss of life and health of innocent people who got suckered into a political issue without considering the ramifications?

By now, everyone has had a year to consider the ramifications of their decisions. People are free to make their own choices about the vaccine and their response to covid in general. If they make their choices based on their political affiliation or in-group signaling, so be it.

But with these numbers (death rate, long term health conditions, effectiveness of vaccines) around are you seriously suggesting trying to help them is not cost-effective?

I am seriously suggesting it is not cost-effective for me to try to influence others to get the vaccine. Most of the people I know have either already decided to get the vaccine at their first opportunity, or decided they will never get it. In November/December, as the vaccines were starting to get approved, I had some discussions with my few friends who I thought might be on the fence, but they weren't moved much by my arguments. I don't actually think I know anyone that I could convince at this point.

On a population level, I agree it is worthwhile and most likely cost-effective to continue to encourage people to get vaccinated. But that is almost entirely beyond my ability to influence. And I reject any blame for observing this situation and commenting on it without completely fixing it.

Comment by kjz on Covid 2/11: As Expected · 2021-02-12T00:34:16.215Z · LW · GW

I believe the quote in the Janelle Nanos tweet (after "Meanwhile, in Boston, priorities are straight:") was taken out of context here. The full article shows how Dr. Ivers was trying to point out the inefficiency of the state's rigid system and offer improvements:

For weeks, Dr. Louise Ivers has been advocating for Massachusetts to speed-up the pace of its COVID-19 vaccinations. But it’s not just the slowness of the rollout that is causing the Boston doctor consternation when it comes to the state’s vaccine push. 

The executive director of Massachusetts General Hospital Global Health and interim head of MGH’s Division of Infectious Diseases told that while she’s been disappointed by the state’s vaccine efforts, she isn’t completely surprised by the sluggish and fragmented rollout based on the response to the virus over the last year.


Ivers told she believes that if the pace of the vaccine were ramped up with more flexibility to start new phases as others plateau, that some of the issues around equity that the state has seen would “settle a little more carefully.”

“It’s quite complicated — you spend a lot of operational resources and planning and logistics to make sure that you only vaccinate 75-year-olds,” Ivers said. “There’s a lot of time and energy spent on making sure that a 74-year-old doesn’t accidentally get vaccinated.”

Instead, Ivers said the state should be moving more quickly to expand vaccine access to those 65 years old and up, as well as groups with comorbidities. 

Comment by kjz on Covid 2/11: As Expected · 2021-02-11T23:15:43.257Z · LW · GW

I also notice that there is a large part of me that thinks, once it’s easily and widely available, you know what? Straight up, just f*** ‘em if they don’t want the vaccine.

This is how I was planning to act at that point, and basically as soon as I'm able to get an official vaccine. Once it's readily available I'll feel no guilt about continued cases (assuming no major vaccine escape, that would be a different story). Even once I've gotten the official vaccine, I'll want to propagate the norm that vaccinated people should live their lives as if they were, you know, vaccinated, so I intend to act that way, unless there's a reason I'm not considering.

Comment by kjz on Making Vaccine · 2021-02-10T23:15:12.574Z · LW · GW

Is this something that can be done at home with readily available and affordable equipment? If so, would you be willing to share more details of how someone might get started? I think a lot of readers would be interested in hearing more about this - it could even be its own post.

Comment by kjz on Making Vaccine · 2021-02-10T22:48:52.277Z · LW · GW

Maintaining 4 °C sounds doable with a good fridge and a data logging thermometer. -20 °C is more tricky - maybe use a home freezer (*** is specced at ≤ -18 °C) and add a data logger. If it then turns out that it can't reach -20 °C, it might be possible to fix that by modding its internal thermostat somehow. Or have access to a lab freezer, or shell out the big bucks (four figures) to buy one.

As someone who has worked in the labs a long time, I wouldn't worry about having to hit exactly -20 °C; that basically just means "freezer temperature". Lab freezers don't work any differently than home freezers as far as I can tell, although they do have certain safety features that a home freezer wouldn't. But the temperature can still vary a few degrees up or down, and it shouldn't affect your storage much. The (very) general rule of thumb is a difference of +/- 10 °C makes chemical reactions (such as peptide degradation) go 2x faster/slower. So even having to store in a fridge temporarily would only be ~4x faster than a freezer, still maybe good enough for one's purposes.

The big difference comes for -20 °C vs -80 °C, since there you have a 2^6 or 64-fold rate difference. So something that can last for a month at -80 °C might degrade in half a day in a freezer. Hence the complex supply chains needed for such vaccines.

Comment by kjz on Creating A Kickstarter for Coordinated Action · 2021-02-06T22:32:25.520Z · LW · GW

I didn't know that! OP, you can also highlight the desired text and click the block quote button. You can also add links that way.

Comment by kjz on Making Vaccine · 2021-02-06T17:20:53.361Z · LW · GW

Totally agree, and this is pretty much what I had in mind as well. The organizer can also host a Zoom call beforehand where they explain the procedure, answer any questions, and let people sign up for times spaced out by 5-10 minutes to self administer.

Comment by kjz on Making Vaccine · 2021-02-06T17:14:44.409Z · LW · GW

Agree neither Sarah or you had explicitly mentioned a clinical trial. I was pushing back more against Sarah's statement “Take a random peptide that has never been tested on any living thing” and your statement "She doesn't explicitly state that this has never been tested on any living thing", which I interpreted as endorsing the claim that this vaccine has never been tested on any living thing. My point is that there is evidence this vaccine has been tested in living things, namely the humans who claim to have self administered it. I have no strong reason to doubt they have done so, and I haven't seen any reports of harm coming to these individuals as a result (although admittedly I have no idea if such reports would be publicly available). When I mentioned clinical trials, I was trying to think of what evidence might convince Sarah this approach is not as risky as she fears, and a clinical trial was the first thing that came to mind.

This should be fairly easy to do, for someone with access to a good lab, personal-scale funding, and motivation. I have to assume that Church et. al. have the first two, so either they don't care enough to bother, or they did but the results weren't encouraging (and either kept quiet or just unnoticed). 

Agree they almost certainly have the first two, but I don't see why they would have had motivation to perform the kind of cell-based studies you are looking for. Here is how I imagine their motivation and incentives throughout the last year, mostly drawn from the article I linked above and info from the radvac website:

  • They see Covid is becoming a pandemic, estimate that a commercial vaccine is >1 year away, and wonder if they can develop an open source vaccine that will provide some level of protection more quickly. At this point, their strongest motivation is to develop a vaccine for their own personal use.
  • They design the radvac vaccine, and based on their personal and collective understanding of vaccines, biochemistry, immunology, etc., each individual decides it is in their personal best interest to self administer the vaccine.
  • They are torn between competing desires to make their protocol and the underlying research public, and to avoid unnecessary attention from regulatory authorities. From the article:

Given the international attention on covid-19 vaccines, and the high political stakes surrounding the crisis, the Radvac group could nevertheless find itself under scrutiny by regulators. “What the FDA really wants to crack down on is anything big, which makes claims, or makes money. And this is none of those,” says Church. “As soon as we do any of those things, they would justifiably crack down. Also, things that get attention. But we haven’t had any so far.”

  • Therefore they settle on the strategy of publishing the white paper under the radar, so it is publicly available but attracts as little attention as possible. (With great success I might add, since we are only having this discussion 6 months later!)
  • Each individual has already made the decision to self administer based on their personal risk-benefit analysis, without the need for cell-based studies.
  • Publishing additional cell-based studies could increase the chance of drawing unwanted regulatory attention to their effort.
  • Thus, they don't have strong incentives to carry out any cell-based studies (which would also take time and effort away from higher priority things they might work on instead), and they likely do have incentives to avoid publishing any cell-based studies.

Which leaves us in the current equilibrium where there are no published cell-based studies.

I think your claim that "they don't care enough to bother" is not very accurate, and a consideration of their incentives as I outlined above provides an alternative reason why we might not expect to find any published cell-based studies.

At the end of the day, we all still have to make personal decisions based on the information at our disposal, as incomplete or challenging to interpret as it may be.

Happy to hear any additional thoughts on this topic!

Comment by kjz on Making Vaccine · 2021-02-06T00:10:24.789Z · LW · GW

Why would they have to gather in close quarters? One person could make it in their kitchen, then leave the room while others come in one at a time to self administer their dose.

Comment by kjz on Making Vaccine · 2021-02-06T00:06:31.502Z · LW · GW

This article from July 2020 claims that George Church and many of his colleagues had already self administered their vaccine at that point. It's almost certainly true that there hasn't been a clinical trial, because nobody has ever had an incentive to run a clinical trial. I don't think their intent was to publicize this widely or profit commercially from it. Rather, they realized they could just do it, went ahead and did it, and wrote up their findings publicly but under the radar, so other like-minded individuals could duplicate their procedure at their own risk. Remember that they are an academic research group and they face very different incentives than the drug companies trying to vaccinate the general public. In any case, it seems clear that these vaccines have been tested on many living things, just not in an official study.

Comment by kjz on Making Vaccine · 2021-02-04T18:30:27.545Z · LW · GW

For the average Less Wrong reader, I tend to agree. But a nurse in an area with a strong, vocal anti-vaccine community may face substantial social pressure to (at least publicly) reject commercial vaccines, for the reasons I stated above.

Comment by kjz on Making Vaccine · 2021-02-04T14:53:44.707Z · LW · GW

Agree it is extremely unlikely that many nurses have done so, and your probabilities seem quite reasonable. I think the main reason why many nurses have declined the vaccine is social signaling - either to maintain their social status within a mostly anti-vaccine peer group, or to maintain credibility with their anti-vaccine patients, who may be reluctant or outright refuse to be treated by a nurse who has been vaccinated because such a nurse is on "the wrong side" and can no longer be trusted. However, a nurse could self-administer the radvac vaccine and get some protection, while still being able to honestly claim they have no plans to get the commercial vaccines.

I hadn't read the whitepaper yet before my initial post, and after a quick scan it looks like you are correct that radvac covers different epitopes than the commercial vaccines (I haven't done my own detailed analysis yet). Are you and others planning to take radvac still planning to get a commercial vaccine once you are eligible?

Comment by kjz on Making Vaccine · 2021-02-03T22:36:21.535Z · LW · GW

Crazy thought, and I doubt this is likely on large scale or it would have been in the news, but any chance this could explain the higher than expected percentage of nurses who have rejected getting the vaccine? Perhaps some have already vaccinated themselves under the radar! And therefore have no need to take the "real" one.

Comment by kjz on kjz's Shortform · 2021-02-02T21:44:34.212Z · LW · GW

Also from nostalgebraist's summary:

Meanwhile, the change which the essay does argue for – towards more legibility – feels only tangentially relevant to the problem.  Yes, designs that are easier to understand are often easier to customize.

For voting systems, I think the key insight is instead: Designs that are easier to understand are easier to trust. 

Comment by kjz on What are some real life Inadequate Equilibria? · 2021-02-02T21:38:10.757Z · LW · GW

One last comment/reminder to myself: I read nostalgebrist's summary of Weyl's "Why I am not a technocrat" argument (haven't read the original yet), and his last few points seem very relevant to my argument:

8. What needs to be true for a mechanism to be open to modification by the masses?  For one thing, the masses need to understand what the mechanism is!  This is clearly not sufficient but it at least seems necessary.

9. Elites should design mechanisms that are simple and transparent enough for the masses to inspect and comprehend.  This goal (“legibility”) trades off against fidelity, which tends to favor illegible models.

10.  But the elite’s mechanisms will always have problems with insufficient fidelity, because they miss information known to the masses (#3).  The way out of this is not to add ever more fidelity as viewed from the elite POV.  We have to let the masses fill in the missing fidelity on their own.

And this will requires more legibility (#8), which will come at the cost of short-term fidelity (#9).  It will pay off in fidelity gains over the long term as mass intervention supplies the “missing” fidelity.

I take this to be the central piece of advice articulated in the essay.

Comment by kjz on What are some real life Inadequate Equilibria? · 2021-02-01T16:59:09.829Z · LW · GW

Sorry, again I realize I didn't explain some of my thoughts clearly enough. I think we are discussing two different but related questions: 1. How do we convince the average voter to support alternate voting systems, vs. 2. How do we convince senators, state and local governments, local political activists, etc. to support alternate voting systems, get them on the ballot, and ultimately passed into law. Most of my thinking and comments in this thread have been more related to question 1, but it feels like you interpreted some as related to question 2. Both are important, but I think the incentives and strategies required are different for the two questions.

When I said Presidential elections are the focal point of the political system, I was thinking about how I would try to convince the average voter to support alternate voting systems. In such a conversation, I know I have very limited time to make my argument, and my conversation partner is likely predisposed to doubt me, since I'm sending clear signals that I'm not "on their team" (whichever "team" they are on). Therefore I need to be able to explain very quickly how the alternate system would work and how it would improve outcomes. Since President is the most important office in US politics and most average voters have a decent understanding of how it currently gets elected, my strategy would be to use Presidential elections as an example, and point out how 3-2-1 can help prevent scary extremists from getting elected as President.

I think ranked choice voting failed to capture much public support (as seen by its failure in recent state ballot questions) because it's too complicated to explain quickly, and too hard for the average voter to quickly understand how it would improve outcomes. 3-2-1 is substantially better by both measures.

Switching over to question 2 now, I agree it would be foolish to start by trying to change federal elections before state and local elections. And I agree that once an alternate method shows some success in a given state, that state's senators might have incentive to say "our system is better, everyone should adopt it". I still don't think current senators have an incentive to be among the first to support alternate methods.

If you both have established politicians speaking in favor of changing the voting system and a bunch of grassroots reformers it's easier for the proposal to succeed in a state. 

Agree - but are there any established politicians publicly in favor of changing the system right now? I'm not aware of any. How are you trying to convince them to publicly support this?

Finally, my quote about the "typical Republican in a red state" was referring to the typical Republican voter that I might try to convince, not a typical Republican congressperson. I mostly agree with your analysis of the incentives a typical Republican congressperson faces. I would just add that any typical or moderate Republican who comes out in support of alternate voting methods now would likely open the door to a extremist primary challenge against them, on the grounds that they are not a sufficiently loyal Republican, who should only be focused on defeating Democrats. Longer term, the incentives might align for moderate Republicans to support alternate voting methods as you describe... but how do we get there from here?

Comment by kjz on What are some real life Inadequate Equilibria? · 2021-02-01T00:15:46.219Z · LW · GW

Agree with how senators are elected. I was thinking of senators proposing a bill to change how federal elections are held, especially for President. As I understand it (90% confident?) such a change would require a constitutional amendment ratified by Congress and the states. Most of my considerations have been around Presidential elections, since they are the focal point of the US political system.

As you mention, state laws decide how their senators are elected and it's quite likely that some states (preceded by cities such as Fargo) will change to an alternate voting method before the federal government does. This provides an additional incentive for individual senators to remain unattached to any alternate voting method proposals, as they will be able to watch how public opinion reacts to the experiments on state and local levels.

Change would more likely to happen by a senator saying: "Our state is grid-looked because we don't have enough bipartisanship. We should change our voting system in our state to allow for more bipartisanship." 

Or a newcomer.

You likely need some grassroots movement for voting reform for a politician to make such a move and be able to portray it as being a noble reformer but it seems possible to me to happen without the politician acting against their interests. 

Is there a popular grassroots movement taking place right now? For a newcomer, being a noble reformer, and actually being a noble reformer, could squarely align with their interests.

Re Bernie/AOC: I was again referring to the chance of them being elected President, which is what I think drives most people's fears. It could make sense they would remain popular locally and maintain their current seats in Congress. I was thinking more of a typical Republican in a red state, who probably doesn't have to worry about losing their own congressional seats, but would be very worried about losing the Presidency. And especially worried that a future Democrat nominee would be more extreme than the current President. Many can probably live with weird Bernie up there in Vermont, at least he's different for a change.

Since I'm getting it all out, a couple more advantages of 3-2-1 voting:

Assuming people understand how 3-2-1 voting works, they automatically understand how approval voting works, since it's just the first half of 3-2-1. So then you can say things like, "If you understand this one voting method, you'll understand everything that matters about the issue", at least for single-winner elections like President. Or even something like, "I promise this is the last voting method for President I'll ever ask you about, and if this doesn't convince you, I'll leave you alone" which I hope would be received as a reasonable and respectful deal.

Thanks for your willingness to engage me on this, it has helped me understand my own position much more clearly.

Comment by kjz on Bets, Bonds, and Kindergarteners · 2021-01-31T01:03:44.736Z · LW · GW

It sounds like Lily was kind of explaining how she would teach her own friends how money worked. And sounds like a good way to go about it!

Comment by kjz on What are some real life Inadequate Equilibria? · 2021-01-31T00:53:44.308Z · LW · GW

Hmm. I feel like we are talking past each other to some extent, or not using terms the same way due to inferential differences, or something like that. Sorry if I've been unclear, I'll try to explain my position better.

Congressional seats are not given out by the rest of the party. The decision for them is made by the primary voters in a given

Very true. I was thinking more of the question, "Which actual senator or group of senators would propose an actual bill to effect change to a new voting system?" I still don't see how any have an incentive to do that.

Re polarization: I also think there's too much polarization, which is why I support any efforts to get away from FPTP. I agree approval voting is a huge improvement over FPTP, and I'm glad Fargo has adopted it.

While 3-2-1 voting might be easier then ranked choice voting Approval Voting is even easier to understand (there are not multiple rounds). 

I don't think getting people to understand [how the rules work] is the key variable to optimize for here. I think it's getting them to understand [why the heck changing to this system will make any difference] in an intuitive way.

I think that if I explained approval voting to my friends, they would understand how the rules work in ten seconds. But when they ask why we should switch, I would have to say something that boils down to "well a bunch of nerds ran some simulations, and this one worked better" and they would pretend to fall asleep.

I think that if I explained 3-2-1 voting to my friends, they would understand how the rules work in twenty seconds. And when they ask why we should switch, there is the obvious reason that the candidate they most fear winning the election gets knocked out in round 2. Democrats will be relieved that Trump would never win under such a system, and Republicans will be relieved that Bernie/AOC types would never win either. And if it's established as a clear anti-both-party or anti-the-current-two-party-system alternative, it may have a better chance of gaining support from voters from a wide variety of backgrounds.

Comment by kjz on What are some real life Inadequate Equilibria? · 2021-01-30T15:13:06.758Z · LW · GW

But each individual "corporate Democrat" congressperson also has huge incentives to cooperate with the rest of the party to maintain the current system. Their party has a ~50% chance of winning each election, and incumbents have a substantial advantage when facing re-election. Any individual (or small group) who proposes to defect in favor of a new, untested voting system would likely face a backlash for not being "true Democrats" and for making it more likely that non-Democrats would win more elections going forward.

Also, I notice you mentioned approval voting several times as an alternative voting method. Is the voting theory community unified behind approval voting at this point? I feel 3-2-1 voting has a greater likelihood of becoming widely supported by the general population, for reasons I outlined in this comment.

Comment by kjz on What are some real life Inadequate Equilibria? · 2021-01-30T13:21:19.348Z · LW · GW

Agree that some individual moderate politicians could benefit from a change in voting methods (Romney is another that comes to mind). But I don't see how they could convince the majority of their party to support changes that go against their personal best interests.

Comment by kjz on What are some real life Inadequate Equilibria? · 2021-01-30T04:48:46.058Z · LW · GW

First past the post voting often leads to undesirable outcomes, as explained by Jameson Quinn in his voting theory primer. There are several newly designed voting methods which are likely to be improvements over the current system, but most have seen limited, if any, uptake.

Some factors blocking such a transition include:

  • it's difficult to change political systems from the outside (e.g. few and infrequent opportunities to place referendum questions on election ballots)
  • within a two-party system, both benefit from first past the post voting, as they know they have a ~50% chance of winning each election, so there is no incentive for them to change from within
  • proponents of voting reform have not yet been able to coordinate on which method they recommend (i.e. establish a Schelling point)
  • individual voters will have to be able to intuitively understand how the new method works and why it should lead to better outcomes for them to consider supporting it

I'm sure there are more that others might think of.

Comment by kjz on The GameStop Situation: Simplified · 2021-01-30T01:18:05.878Z · LW · GW

It doesn't feel like game theory to me as much as psychology at this point. During the endgame, I agree game theory will play a huge role in individual investors' decisions to hold or sell. But now, it feels like a clear recognition that they are stronger together as long as they all hold, and what's most interesting to me are the simple slogans and short repeatable talking points they use to do so (as well as the excellent analysis that has gotten them this far).




Why do they work so well? Because you only get five words.

It reminds me of an ancient army charging into battle, singing and chanting to maintain morale as long as possible during the struggle.

(Disclosure: I am long GME).

Comment by kjz on Tentative covid surface risk estimates · 2021-01-26T00:28:48.140Z · LW · GW

I haven't looked into this in any detail, but I also don't remember seeing it mentioned anywhere else: is it known whether detecting viral RNA on surfaces is actually correlated with infectiousness? For example, my (limited) understanding of the infection process is that the virus is essentially RNA inside a protein capsule which protects it long enough to infect cells, and any naked foreign extracellular RNA would quickly get broken down by RNases. On surfaces, is it possible that some of the protein capsules have "broken down" such that their RNA is exposed, and therefore much less or even non-infectious?

Comment by kjz on How much does it cost to design an app? · 2021-01-21T14:20:02.921Z · LW · GW

Also, too, your kernel of an idea isn't that special. Probably half the people on LessWrong could have thought of it, if they gave 5 minutes of thought to whatever domain its in.

Totally agree. But remember - the vaccine app isn't my real idea. It's the idea I came up with to use as an example after 5 minutes of thought :)

I really appreciate all your comments and taking the time to engage with this. They're helping me think about the actual idea I have in mind much more clearly and in more detail. Thank you!

Comment by kjz on How much does it cost to design an app? · 2021-01-21T14:01:20.977Z · LW · GW

All great points. I've read the article you mentioned, and it will be a crucial guiding principle in how I would want to design this - maybe the most crucial.

Comment by kjz on Covid: The Question of Immunity From Infection · 2021-01-21T13:53:12.912Z · LW · GW

That seems to me like a reasonable response to the incentives they currently face.

Comment by kjz on Covid: The Question of Immunity From Infection · 2021-01-21T01:50:09.581Z · LW · GW

Thanks for following up last week's discussion about the first paper. It's pretty sad that it falls on internet sleuths to debunk claims that should be obviously questionable after thinking for two seconds about the underlying scientific principles, but so it goes. This study should have been flagged immediately by a competent peer review process.

On a personal level though, I'm thankful I've been able to improve at noticing such claims myself, thanks in large part to things I've learned here.

Comment by kjz on How much does it cost to design an app? · 2021-01-20T22:38:43.082Z · LW · GW

Thanks for the recommendation - very glad he is doing this. My favorite part was this paraphrased dialog with a pharmacy:

Us: How would someone make an appointment with you? 

Pharmacy: Go to the county website at... 

Us: You know you're not on that, right? 

Pharmacy: WHAT.

Inadequate equilibria at their finest. I wish him all the best in his efforts to make them more adequate.

Comment by kjz on How much does it cost to design an app? · 2021-01-20T22:33:32.612Z · LW · GW

Thanks for the very useful feedback. To answer your questions:

  1. For the vaccine example, I agree that would be a huge problem and probably make it totally unworkable. Your hint is right on. For my real example, the "rules" wouldn't change much at all, or only very slowly (on the timescale of months or more likely years).
  2. The customer is any individual with disposable income. There is not a way to use Google or Excel to solve this problem. As for how many there are, it's either something that would never take off and fizzle out and die, or it could become a service that millions of people find invaluable. Hard to predict in more detail than that.
Comment by kjz on How much does it cost to design an app? · 2021-01-20T22:21:12.741Z · LW · GW

Thanks so much for the quick and detailed reply! I agree I haven't provided enough info yet to let you (or anyone) answer the question well. This is mostly because I came up with my real idea very recently, and I'm a total rookie in this field so almost everything is an "unknown unknown" to me at this point. Also, for now I want to avoid giving too many details, until I've worked out the idea more fully.

But to address some of your points and provide some additional info that may be helpful:

  • It's great to know that edge cases and polish result in a substantial cost inflation. This is something I wouldn't have predicted. Providing a simple and intuitive user experience would be crucial to this idea, and I would be willing to spend extra time and resources to make the user experience as seamless as possible. In my (admittedly naive) mind, I'm imagining making a fairly optimized and well designed user interface, letting test users play with it and give feedback, then ultimately releasing a very professional and intuitive final version to the public. As you mentioned, I'm sure I would need a lot of help with graphic design and product design, since I've never done this. (Side note: is UX user experience?)
  • I'm not in a rush to get this to market quickly - as I said I think it's more important to prioritize quality over a quick rollout.
  • I also plan to give users very limited options for how to interact with the app. Simplicity and making it obvious how to do what they want to do is key.
  • Regarding payments, I would need to be able to accept payments from individual users, and make payments either to other users or to companies. The idea is to provide a service where individual users would sign up for an automatic monthly subscription by whatever method is easiest for them (credit card, Paypal, etc.)

Hope this helps and I'd be happy to hear any further suggestions!

Comment by kjz on Public selves · 2021-01-19T15:42:35.287Z · LW · GW

As an introvert who tends to keep different parts of my life separate (work vs different friend groups vs hobbies, etc) out of fear of social disapproval or "using up too many weirdness points", this statement strongly resonated with me. It feels like something I have already been trying to do slowly in my own way, but you outlined a very clear way of thinking about it. I gave this comment a strong upvote.

Comment by kjz on Ongoing free money at PredictIt · 2021-01-17T16:11:05.327Z · LW · GW

When you write one, I would be excited to read it!

My best hypothesis at the moment is that there was substantial overlap between the people who were still betting on Trump post-election and the people who were actively looking for opportunities to disrupt the remainder of the electoral process like we saw on Jan. 6, or who assigned a higher probability to such disruptions succeeding. Such people may have felt they had "insider knowledge" that was worth betting on, and to some extent, they may have been better calibrated than the conventional wisdom.

Comment by kjz on Covid 1/14: To Launch a Thousand Shipments · 2021-01-15T14:02:00.559Z · LW · GW

I didn't look at the study itself, but how do they know the initial infections were "real" infections? Is it possible they are effectively just finding the false positive rate from the initial infection testing?

Comment by kjz on Covid 1/14: To Launch a Thousand Shipments · 2021-01-15T01:03:44.333Z · LW · GW

Which, because you only get five (or ten) words, shows up on the headlines as "Past Covid infection gives 5 months of immunity, study suggests".

I expect many will read just the headline, and start to claim that it is known that past Covid infection gives exactly 5 months of immunity, and this will become the commonly remembered message going forward.

Comment by kjz on Avoid Unnecessarily Political Examples · 2021-01-13T00:46:54.271Z · LW · GW

Happy to give an 'outsider' viewpoint!

It's funny, at the point where I had only read the post and not discussed it with anyone, I never parsed "politics is the mindkiller" as any of "politics=boo" or "you are not smart/rational enough to debate politics with me" or even "your mind has been so killed by politics that we can't have a conversation where we understand each other". I always thought of it as "politics kills everybody's mind, like it or not, especially if they're not aware of it", and felt mostly sympathy for all of us that this is the case. In conversations, I only use "politics is the mindkiller" in the sense of "look what this is doing to all of us, no matter what side you're on!" and always after we have shared examples of how both sides have behaved badly. I think doing it this way can help them start to see through the "must support our arguments, must attack theirs" pattern, which is probably so hardwired into people that they never realize it exists. I know I never did, until I read this post.

Comment by kjz on You Have About Five Words · 2021-01-12T21:39:14.165Z · LW · GW

I prefer "get". It implies more strongly that if someone actually needs to convince others of their argument, they need to make sure their message is as concise and optimized as possible, before trying to convince anyone. As the original post says:

What if you need all that nuance and to coordinate thousands of people?

You still only get five words.

Comment by kjz on Avoid Unnecessarily Political Examples · 2021-01-12T21:04:52.771Z · LW · GW

A bit off topic maybe, but when I read the original post, the part that resonated the most with me, and is now always in the back of mind during political discussions with my friends, is this:

Politics is an extension of war by other means. Arguments are soldiers. Once you know which side you’re on, you must support all arguments of that side, and attack all arguments that appear to favor the enemy side; otherwise it’s like stabbing your soldiers in the back—providing aid and comfort to the enemy.

I've seen the first part condensed elsewhere on the site to "debate is war; arguments are soldiers", which is the phrasing I generally use in conversation. This sets the stage for the key insight "you must support all arguments of that side, and attack all arguments that appear to favor the enemy side". When I say that, the message often seems to get through, and people seem to think a little more reflectively. The tone of the conversation can soften and it can lead to a more nuanced and less combative discussion. I've even had people say, "Yeah, my side might be wrong about a few things, even though they're still way better than that other side."

Which, in general, I consider a huge win.

Comment by kjz on A vastly faster vaccine rollout · 2021-01-12T20:21:31.171Z · LW · GW

I remember reading around the beginning of the pandemic that Bill Gates was going to do exactly that: subsidize production of many different vaccine candidates with his own money, and accept the sunk cost for any vaccines that ended up not working. I haven't seen anything about this idea recently though, and it seems he has not been (at least publicly) behind any vaccine production efforts. Any idea why? To avoid perceived competition with Operation Warp Speed?

Comment by kjz on 5 general voting pathologies: lesser names of Moloch · 2021-01-08T02:51:06.932Z · LW · GW

I'm also a fan of 3-2-1 voting, and I think it has another strong advantage - it's the one I could most easily see explaining to my friends across the political spectrum, having them understand how it works and its potential advantages quickly, and leave thinking it might be worth a shot and maybe even discussing it with their friends. Some anecdata: I live in a state where ranked choice voting failed to pass in the recent election. A few years ago, before anyone knew ranked choice would even be on the ballot, I tried to explain how it worked, and was met with a few types of dismissals: many thought it was too complicated and couldn't follow along*, while one friend's reply was "no, in an election you should just get one vote, and that's that". I'm not sure exactly what he meant by that, or if it was even his true rejection, but it was an interesting response.

But with 3-2-1, I feel like I could explain it to the same people and many would immediately get it and have a positive impression of it and actually remember it again later. Why? Because now I can point out how the candidate on the other side who they can't stand is gonna get knocked out in round 2. Like, not even in the finals... in round 2! Because obviously way more people hate that other party than my party, and then we just have knock off some Libertarian or whoever, and we'll win every time! And even once they realize a different pool of candidates might emerge and change the dynamic, at least that terrible candidate who they're thinking about right now would never win.

Plus, the name itself is very memorable, underscores its simplicity, and is very chantable (for better or worse - I feel somewhat uncomfortable pointing this out, but it seems relevant to a discussion about political systems).

*to be clear, these are smart, reasonable people who would easily understand the concept given enough time. it felt like they were trying to play out elections in their head, realized it was taking too long to figure out during a normal conversation span (understandably), so just figured "forget it" and changed the subject.

Comment by kjz on Ongoing free money at PredictIt · 2021-01-07T23:51:23.308Z · LW · GW

I agreed at the time with the sentiments of this and similar discussions of free money available through prediction markets, although I didn't overcome the inertia enough to make any trades. However, yesterday's events have made me question how well I was calibrated. Have others been feeling similarly?