Comment by Laura__ABJ on I'd take it · 2008-07-02T16:45:33.000Z · LW · GW

Ha Ha Ha...

Comment by Laura__ABJ on [deleted post] 2008-07-02T15:02:00.000Z

Anonymous for now: "I wouldn't have posted this if I hadn't found the overall tone to be calm, courteous & genuine and the topics to be of interest."

Would you characterize my commenting as detracting from the tone of calm and courteous (though I have been quite genuine)? Would you suggest amending this?

Also of interest circa the discussion of male experience:
Nobel prize winning neuroscientist Eric Kandel relates in his memoir "In Search of Memory" that his first sexual experience was at the age of 9 with the hose-maid 'Mitzy." He speculates that his parents hired her to do it, since it was a common practice in Austria at the time to hire a female helper for you almost-pubescent son to prevent him from becoming a homosexual. I'm not advocating such a practice for the purpose of preventing homosexuality, but might it have other useful functions in male psychological development? Does anyone have any arguments for or against this?

Comment by Laura__ABJ on [deleted post] 2008-07-02T03:53:00.000Z

Grant: "If we are taking a "social engineering" viewpoint towards increasing male confidence, I would think the best thing would be for domestic women to just be more understanding towards under-confident men. Learning to be good in bed really isn't rocket science, its just that its hard to acquire the sort of experience and honest feedback needed in order to develop those skills."

Good luck trying to find that many non-paid 'domestic women' teachers willing to give pity fucks to all those fellahs...

Comment by Laura__ABJ on [deleted post] 2008-07-01T21:41:00.000Z

Don't know if anyone is still reading this thread- but I'd be interested if anyone wants to take a stab at evaluating the pros and cons of sending inexperienced men on a week's vacation to the brothels of Los Vegas or China or anywhere else in order for them to gain some experience, learn a few things, and increase their overall sexual confidence. What are the risks involved? The potential benefits? Are there any 'moral' concerns?

Comment by Laura__ABJ on [deleted post] 2008-07-01T18:11:00.000Z

Ah! Also- I know a girl who turned down the option of fucking her NYU medical admissions interviewer to get in... She withdrew her application entirely... certainly not a good situation for her.

Comment by Laura__ABJ on [deleted post] 2008-07-01T18:10:00.000Z

Oh- just thought of a personal experience of discrimination that should be illuminating- While discussing rotations with my PhD advisor, she told me not to bother with two of the 5 people on my list since, "They don't like women and will try to drive you out of their lab. They've done it before." I believe her. That is just sad.

Hm... Where sexual favor for money was unwanted... I can't think of a story I've heard where the woman didn't think at the time it was a good idea-- but many of them suffer terrible guilt after the fact... Maybe the problem is society telling them they're bad people for having done it.

Comment by Laura__ABJ on The Moral Void · 2008-07-01T17:37:36.000Z · LW · GW

I realize that just because I am fairly confident I wouldn't suffer terribly from killing the baby if my knowledge was fairly complete, I can't say that for all people. People's utility functions differ, as do their biological and learned aversions to certain types of violence. The cognitive dissonance created by being presented with such a situation might be too great for some, causing them to break down psychologically and rationalize their way out of the decision any way they could. What if we upped the stakes and took it from some anonymous baby painlessly being snuffed out, to your own adult child being tortured?

Look at our dear friend C-. I was not thinking about him when I wrote my last post, but for those of you who know the situation, he seems to be the embodiment of this dilemma. What becomes of the man who, knowing the gravity of the situation and the most likely outcome, still decides NOT to kill the baby???

Comment by Laura__ABJ on [deleted post] 2008-07-01T16:12:00.000Z

What types of factors do you think I should take into consideration to do this more precisely? I was only basing it on what my friends have told me... which is not a representative sample of the population in general. What would be the point of trying to do this estimate more carefully?

Comment by Laura__ABJ on [deleted post] 2008-07-01T15:53:00.000Z

Also- Just to note- I was two paces behind you, and I did have a very frightening situation in the past in which the heal of my shoe broke suddenly in the middle of the street when there was on-coming traffic... So I wouldn't even characterize not crossing the street as a poor choice based on a misevaluation of distances/speeds.

Comment by Laura__ABJ on [deleted post] 2008-07-01T15:30:00.000Z

OK Mike- I accept this explanation from you... But be careful what you say and to whom... This seemed very insulting to me, esp. without any explanation. If I was offended by it, who wouldn't be? Best to keep musing about relative abilities to rational and well-explained discussion/open examination than quips in traffic...

Comment by Laura__ABJ on The Moral Void · 2008-07-01T15:18:00.000Z · LW · GW

Hmm... This whole baby-killing example is making me think...

Knecht: "Even if I thought it probably would substantially increase the future happiness of humanity, I still wouldn't do it without a complete explanation. Not because I think there is a moral fabric to the universe that says killing babies is wrong, but because I am hardwired to have an extremely strong aversion to like killing babies."

This does seem like what a true amoralist might say... yet, what if the idea of having forgone the opportunity to substantially increase the future happiness of humanity would haunt you for the rest of your existence, which will be quite long... Then the amoralist might decide indeed that the comparative pain of killing the baby was less than suffering this protracted agony.

Andy: "It's all well and good to speak of utility, but next time, it could be you! How does it come to be that each individual has forfeited control over her/his own destiny? Is it just part of "the contract?"

From how I feel about the world and the people in it now, I would hope I would have the strength to accept my fate and die, if die I must... However, since I really don't believe there is anything 'after,' all utility would drop to 0 if I were to die. However, I think I might very well be tortured for the rest of my existence that my existence was to source of torture to so many. This would be negative utility. I can conceive of not wanting to live anymore. I honestly can't say what I would do if asked to make this sacrifice. What would you do, if it was your life the AI asked you to end?

Laura: "I would need to be pretty fucking sure it really was both friendly and able to perform such calculations before I would kill anyone at its command."

I know I wrote this, but I've been thinking about it. Generally this is true, but we mustn't rationalize inaction by insufficiency of data when probabalistically we have very good reason to believe in the correctness of a conclusion. Be a man, or an adult rather, and take responsibility for the possibility that you may be wrong.

Maybe this is what it is to be a Man/Woman. This is why I was so very impressed with Leonidas and his wife- their ability to make very difficult, unsavory decisions with very good reasons to believe they were correct, but still in the face of uncertainty... Leonidas flaunted fate... his wife, society. Which was more difficult?

OTOH- We can think of King Agammemnon and his ultimate sacrifice of his daughter Iphegenia, demanded by the gods in order to get the ships to set sail. While he clearly HAD to do this under the premise that he should go to war with Troy, Greek literature seems to be highly critical of this decision and whether or not the war should ever have been fought... If our 'super-intelligent,' 'friendly' AI, were but the Greek Gods unto us, I don't think I would want to be at its moral mercy... I am not a toy.

The Greeks really did get it all right. There have been so few insights into human nature since...

Comment by Laura__ABJ on [deleted post] 2008-07-01T14:05:00.000Z


I was the top student in my geometry class, thank you very much! Was discussing non-euclidian geometry and mathematics in alternate bases in 4th grade- thank you. And I think I'm a fairly competent sketch artist... That you would try to explain my non-desire to run in front of traffic as a function of my gender was just... appalling.

Comment by Laura__ABJ on [deleted post] 2008-07-01T04:42:00.000Z

Coward: 'If I'd been a woman, I would probably have won a few $100,000 contracts that year, and would now be wealthy. In the SBIR program, grant applications from women-owned companies go to the head of the line, and receive extremely favorable treatment.'

Eliezer! He has it! YOU NEED BABES! Yes! Lots of babes to get you money! To save the world! Why haven't you done this yet??? And you call yourself a rationalist...

I'm joking, though, in all honesty, there is some truth to this, though it is a risky business- I did go to a party for a friend to flirt his investors (who were technical and liked smart women) into being more comfortable... Don't know if I got him any more money that night, but it probably made him look good.

Comment by Laura__ABJ on The Moral Void · 2008-07-01T03:31:51.000Z · LW · GW

Andy- I agree with your skepticism. I was taking for granted that the AI in the scenario was correct in its calculation, since I am 'convinced that it is friendly' but yes, I would need to be pretty fucking sure it really was both friendly and able to perform such calculations before I would kill anyone at its command.

Comment by Laura__ABJ on [deleted post] 2008-07-01T02:47:00.000Z

Angel: "The political is the personal. When somebody raises the ugly head of sex stereotypes, my logic and my reason are offended, but the rest of me is flinching back from the endless, historical and ongoing carnival of ugly, cruel things that that sort of thinking is intimately linked with in women's experience."

This I sympathize with. A couple of things most men might not be in on-

What percentage of women that you know have been offered the option of trading sexual favors for career advancement?
My conservative estimate: 20%

What percentage of women that you know have performed sexual favors for money, power, or other material gain?
My conservative estimate: 15%

What percentage of women that you know have been sexually violated?
My conservative estimate: 25%

Question- Would you personally ever consider dating a woman who had sold sexual favors?

The information that you, generally good, guys may not be privy to is just HOW BAD women really have it in this realm... They won't necessarily tell you...

Also- What we're dealing with:
Good friend of mine and I were crossing the street in a foreign country. He had previously characterized me as one of the, if not the smartest woman he had ever met. He plowed ahead in front of the traffic, I waited for the light to turn green. When I got to the other side, he shook his head and said 'women and their decrease spatial abilities...'
I yelled at him, and he said he was just kidding... Was he? This is the name of the game. This is what we're up against. This is why so many women feel they are at war...

Comment by Laura__ABJ on The Moral Void · 2008-07-01T02:22:46.000Z · LW · GW

Andy: "I can't claim that there's an objective reason to value individual rights so highly, but it is a fact that I do."

Hal: "You argue and ask if there isn't some other way to do it, and the FAI explains that every other alternative will involve much greater human suffering."

These things seem grossly disproportionate. Do you really believe utility(individual rights of one person)>>>utility(end great human suffering)

Andy- A man who is on the brink the death has a key to a safe deposit box in which there is an asthma inhaler. He owns both the inhaler and the safe deposit box. His son's son is having a very serious asthma attack that might lead to death. Since said man currently hates his son, he decides not to tell him where the key is, since it's his property and he doesn't have to. "Call an ambulance and wait." He tells his son. You know where the key is. Do you steal it?

Comment by Laura__ABJ on The Moral Void · 2008-07-01T01:11:55.000Z · LW · GW

Hal Finney-

I probably wouldn't have argued that much with the AI... I've done things I've personally found more morally questionable since I didn't have quite as good a reason to believe I was right about the outcome... Moral luck, I was.

Comment by Laura__ABJ on The Moral Void · 2008-06-30T13:12:20.000Z · LW · GW

Eliezer: "Go ahead. Indulge your fantasy. Would you want the stone tablet to say people should die of old age, or that people should live as long as they wanted? If you could write the stone tablet yourself, what would it say?"

Excellent way of putting it... I would certainly want the option of living as long as I liked. (Though I find it worth noting that when I was depressed, I found the idea of needing to choose when to end program abhorrent, since I figured I could go several billion years in agony before making such a choice... Many people you talk to about the meaning of death may be longing for it now. Excellent Murakami story on the subject- in the collection 'Super Frog Saves Tokyo', but I forgot the title. Many people are very dissatisfied with their lives.)

Some of my problems with the 'positive singularity' do not involve uploading proper, but parameter manipulation that anything similar to our current identity may get completely lost in... Also not quite off the problem of 'is your clone really you?' ... or what we do with our physical selves after the upload.... All seem troubling to me.

Comment by Laura__ABJ on What Would You Do Without Morality? · 2008-06-30T03:36:00.000Z · LW · GW

Also Mike- the first portion of your argument was written in such a confusing manner that I had to read it twice, and I know the way you argue... don't know if anyone who didn't already know what you were talking about would have kept reading.

Comment by Laura__ABJ on What Would You Do Without Morality? · 2008-06-30T03:31:00.000Z · LW · GW

Michael- I have repeatedly failed to understand why this upsets you so much, though it clearly does. It's hard for me to see why I should care if the AI does a pretty fireworks display for 10 seconds or 10,000 years. Perhaps you need to find more intuitive ways of explaining it. A better analogy? At some points you just seem like a mystic to me...

Comment by Laura__ABJ on What Would You Do Without Morality? · 2008-06-29T19:33:00.000Z · LW · GW

Wow- far too much self-realization going on here... Just to provide a data point, when I was in high school, I convinced an awkward, naive, young catholic boy who had a crush on me of just this point... He attempted suicide that day.


For follow up, he has been in a very happy exclusive homosexual relationship for the past three years.

Maybe I didn't do such a bad thing...

Comment by Laura__ABJ on [deleted post] 2008-06-29T19:21:00.000Z

Davis- You've given me a lot to think about there. Diving people by gender has been a useful if unfair way for me to look at the world, and I appreciate how frustrating this must be for people who just don't want that to be a marker at all. I think I like being a 'woman,' so it's easy for me to write about how women should be taken more seriously even though they are different-- but... it's apparently not that simple. As I said, my first boyfriend called himself female. I never really understood why, since he liked to date women and didn't do anything to physically change himself. In a more ideal world, maybe he wouldn't have needed to label himself so at all... I didn't even realize you were a man posting...

Comment by Laura__ABJ on What Would You Do Without Morality? · 2008-06-29T19:02:00.000Z · LW · GW

Pablo- I have not yet resolved whether I should care about creating the 'positive' singularity for or more or less this reason. Why should I, the person I am now, care about the persistence of some completely different, incomprehensible, and unsympathetic form of 'myself' that will immediately take over a few nanoseconds after it has begun... I kind of like who I am now. We die each moment and each we are reborn- why should literal death be so abhorrent? Esp. if you think you can look at the universe from outside time as if it were just another dimension of space and see all fixed in some odd sense...

Comment by Laura__ABJ on What Would You Do Without Morality? · 2008-06-29T05:42:55.000Z · LW · GW

"Suppose you learned, suddenly and definitively, that nothing is moral and nothing is right; that everything is permissible and nothing is forbidden."

First Existential Crisis: Age 15

"Would you wear black and write gloomy poetry and denounce all altruists as fools?"

Been there, done that.

"But there's no reason you should do that - it's just a cached thought."

Realized this.

"Would you stay in bed because there was no reason to get up?"

Tried that.

"What about when you finally got hungry and stumbled into the kitchen - what would you do after you were done eating?"

Stare at the wall.

"Would you go on reading Overcoming Bias, and if not, what would you read instead?"

Shakespeare, Nitzsche

"Would you still try to be rational, and if not, what would you think instead"

No-- Came up with entire philosophy of "It doesn't matter if anything I say, do, or think is consistent with itself or each other... everything in my head has been set up by the universe- my parents ideas of right and wrong- television- paternalistic hopes of approving/forgiving/nonexistent god and his ability to grant immortality, so why should I worry about trying to put it together in any kind of sensible fashion? Let it all sort itself out...

"What would you do, if nothing were right?" What felt best.

Comment by Laura__ABJ on [deleted post] 2008-06-29T04:28:00.000Z

Frank- Yes I have indeed failed with particular men- though not with men in general. If you mean why some women fail with men in general- I have less insight into this topic. I know a couple of women who don't seem to succeed at all, but one is grossly overwieght and the other is mentally ill... I also know women who date jerks, but that's by choice... What in my phrasing did you find sexist?

Comment by Laura__ABJ on [deleted post] 2008-06-29T03:29:00.000Z

Vassar:By "Sadly, because male is considered the default gender (and possibly because there are more highly masculine women than highly feminine men?), women in these cultures are required to shift their behavior far more than men are required to even when both are present in equal numbers."

Dear God YES!!! I've been called "like a man" so many times for a stand in for "smart, good at math, good at physics, good at arguing, rational, eloquent, strong willed..." Any number of positive traits. If I point out that I like to cook, dress nicely, write poetry, paint, act, talk to people about their problems, take care of kittens, that I try to calm my rats down before injecting them... well, that just confuses the fuck out them, because they can't just chalk the whole of my abilities up to my being 'masculine.' For a long time I took being called "like a man," or "one of the guys" as a genuine compliment. It wasn't until I became comfortable enough with the fact of my own femaleness that I realized it was an insult to my whole sex. I never liked the label feminist- I found it too loaded- though I suppose that is probably an accurate description of myself.

Poke:"But it's rare that a member of the same sex is in the position to really screw with you to the point that you dwell on their motivations. Nor are we particularly concerned with pleasing them or self-conscious about how they perceive us."

Strongly disagree. My girlfriends (not sexual use of term) have the ability to inflict far more emotional pain on my than my guyfriends... maybe because they know exactly where to stick the blade and how to twist it.

General: Case In Point: Do I think I understand men?
Well, I certainly flirted one out a $150/month on the apartment I was trying to sublet today... 'Yes, I know I broke the door, oh dear! You're good at physics and stuff, how shall we ever get it back on those hinges...' particle physicist too... But that again is a parlor trick. While I think I have insight into why a lot of men might FAIL with women, that doesn't mean I get THEM... I love men... Far too many of them seem to fall in love with me than is good for the world though. Will need to work on that.

Comment by Laura__ABJ on 2-Place and 1-Place Words · 2008-06-27T22:32:26.000Z · LW · GW

But as to signaling... I asked you if you thought it would be worth it to torture one person for 50 years for 3^^^^3 people to have mind-boggling good sex, and you had to consider for a moment before the other guy blurted out immediately "Of Course!!!" He was clearly turned on by the convo- and you were in lala land... I also offered to take my shirt off at some point in the evening... Was I really being all that subtle???

Comment by Laura__ABJ on 2-Place and 1-Place Words · 2008-06-27T22:03:24.000Z · LW · GW

Bless you for being a actual nice guy Eliezer- I do genuinely wish you and Erin the best in spite of your very odd way of explaining your relationship.

Comment by Laura__ABJ on 2-Place and 1-Place Words · 2008-06-27T21:20:54.000Z · LW · GW

Ooh! Permission to be a bit mean... how not to be....

Eliezer- Ok- I went to an Overcoming Bias meet-up with full intentions of seducing you- wore the purple turtle neck, because it looks respectable and my opinions would be listened to while by glorious breasts were also being displayed, a sign of my jewish background as unmistakable as the star of David I was wearing. Ask M. Vassar for confirmation of these intentions. but I was sorta disappointed. You are not very attractive, as you have said yourself, you talk like a 10 year old know-it-all, not in the "I'm confident that I have figured out my life" kinda way, but in the "I'm smarter than you are- nah nah nah nah nah nah!" kinda way. Totally failed to pick up flirtatious signaling... Though to be modest, I have no idea if you actually found me attractive or if you wanted to be faithful to your girlfriend, or if you were following that silly philosophy that you didn't want to experience anything as intriguing as Laura unless you could obtain a regular supply... Still, all this I would have forgiven to perch atop a flagpole and declare that I had fucked the pirate king! (How's that for objectification?) But there was something about the way you characterized your girlfriend as your "consierge" was it, that was just so repugnant... Blah! I don't know her at all to say that this situation is bad for her, but yes, I found it billious...

Comment by Laura__ABJ on 2-Place and 1-Place Words · 2008-06-27T15:24:01.000Z · LW · GW

Eliezer- again, I ask now in this thread, because I think the discussion of "bad boys" might well be over, may I use you as a case-in-point illustrative example for the way women (at least n=1) think sexually about smart men of certain type???

Comment by Laura__ABJ on 2-Place and 1-Place Words · 2008-06-27T15:22:01.000Z · LW · GW

Eliezer- Yes, the map is not the territory. Though you are correct in asserting that everyone has their own sexual evaluation function, if you want to 'carve reality at its joints,' you need to acknowledge that common patterns exist in human sexual attraction.