Posts

Why do all out attacks actually work? 2020-06-12T20:33:53.138Z · score: 37 (18 votes)
Multiple Arguments, Multiple Comments 2020-05-07T09:30:17.494Z · score: 13 (3 votes)
Stop saying wrong things 2020-05-01T20:50:38.203Z · score: 71 (54 votes)
Zoom's security is not that bad 2020-04-05T11:31:42.755Z · score: 5 (8 votes)
lc's Shortform 2020-03-19T23:50:30.391Z · score: 1 (1 votes)
Are US treasury bonds liable to fail? 2020-03-18T23:04:15.563Z · score: 3 (2 votes)
Do people with more siblings commit suicide at a higher rate? 2020-03-17T18:07:49.811Z · score: 4 (3 votes)
I don't understand Rice's Theorem and it's killing me 2020-03-02T03:06:09.303Z · score: 9 (6 votes)
Three signs you may be suffering from imposter syndrome 2020-01-21T22:17:45.944Z · score: 2 (4 votes)

Comments

Comment by lc on GAZP vs. GLUT · 2020-06-15T06:29:38.501Z · score: -1 (2 votes) · LW · GW

This is by far the silliest part of the sequences for me. Within this blog post, Yudkowsky briefly went insane and decided thought experiments have to be "probable" or "realistic" in order to be engaged with. He then refuses to answer the prompt until the last four sentences, wherein he basically admits that he doesn't have a framework for answering it.

Suppose someone, that someone indeed being a conscious agent, creates a GLUT and then swiftly dies a horrible death so you can stop focusing on the person who made the GLUT or how it got there and answer the damn question. Is the GLUT conscious?

Comment by lc on For moderately well-resourced people in the US, how quickly will things go from "uncomfortable" to "too late to exit"? · 2020-06-12T23:16:28.958Z · score: 0 (6 votes) · LW · GW

- German Jew, 1920

Comment by lc on lc's Shortform · 2020-06-02T21:14:03.504Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think the multi-hour computer hacking gauntlet probably trumps any considerations of account creation in terms of obstacles to new users.  Just in considering things we could pare down. We also need some way to prevent computer hackers from scraping all of the exam boxes, and that means either being enormously creative or at some point requiring the creation of an account that we KYC.

Comment by lc on lc's Shortform · 2020-06-02T19:41:37.657Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I just launched a startup, Leonard Cyber. Basically a Pwn2Job platform.

If any hackers on LessWrong are out of work, here are some invite codes:

kBCYAzL7J5vGTGY

c8Vakd4AE3al9NI

cnMBO0ZfGhsNZd7

0zsYsfDk7r5508l

F0gv4NRID7FBeJH

Comment by lc on Multiple Arguments, Multiple Comments · 2020-05-12T16:26:40.503Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

And this is why I think people don't naturally do it this way. Lots of arguments have a "common body" of thought that it gets repetitive to include with each comment. Even when they don't, people tend to just not think of arguments as "graphs" of justifications. They think of them like a serial back and forth of people on a podium giving speeches and engaging in "rhetorical battle", and it's more fun and engaging to write them that way on the internet.

Comment by lc on Stop saying wrong things · 2020-05-07T10:16:04.349Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW
This sounds like valuable progress in your thinking! Probably just writing about it has helped you see things more clear. I hope you'll go back to my edited post. I shared some ideas about starting a journaling habit for precisely this reason!

Perhaps >.>

Comment by lc on Stop saying wrong things · 2020-05-07T10:15:09.250Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW
Regarding learning a foreign language, I'm not sure what I can say. I speak Japanese, and I run a company which makes some top selling Japanese language learning products. So I know something about this topic. You're right, learning a foreign language is a big commitment. So isn't it obvious that the longer the required commitment, the most likely it is that people will drop out?

Yes. It's very obvious. Which is why it's that much more unusual that people make these commitments without more consideration than they tend to put forward. People will intuit that they should do some significant (meaning more than a couple hours) hard research into whether or not it's worth it to get their masters, and where to get it; they tend not to realize that successfully learning a language as remote as Mandarin requires similar time investment as getting the masters degree, even though a necessary part of any plan to do so would be to figure that out, and I don't know why. I suspect that many of these people are just going through the motions with no real objectives in mind, and that's a running theme of my OP.

In the case of learning a foreign language, maybe over time the quitter just decided that the effort was no longer worth it. Maybe that want to prioritize other hobbies and interests. Or maybe they just don't enjoy memorizing hanzi. Maybe the idea moving to China or the important of talking to people in Chinese has lost its luster. What's wrong with changing your mind about these things?

As you say, nothing. The problem, at least in hindsight, was the decision to start in the first place. You can say the decision was correct given the information they had, but I'm trying to make the point that much (most?) of the time this is clearly not the case, and people engage in studying habits that will not ensure they learn the language in the next forty years.

Which is not to say that people shouldn't use your product or service. I personally think language acquisition has some pretty significant positive externalities - languages are more useful the more people speak them, after all - but we don't even need to go there. It's just that the way most people set about learning them often implies they're not even trying, to a degree that's difficult to make sense of, at least for me.

Comment by lc on Leaders of Men · 2020-05-07T09:16:44.982Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Even if you take for granted that what you're pointing out - leadership ability - is the main driver of success above and beyond all other factors in baseball management, and that the correct choice of manager is one selected for this trait to the negligence of all others, I don't really understand why you'd even expect the Mets to succeed regularly in doing this. Are professional baseball teams really that good at identifying leadership ability as you're implying?

Comment by lc on Stop saying wrong things · 2020-05-07T08:54:25.680Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW
Regarding the way Etsy was prioritizing development, it sounds like even their late stage "idea > validate > prototype" cycle is wrong. How can you "validate" before you have a prototype to get feedback on?

You need to be a little creative. I'll give a trivial example that will probably be more enlightening if you went through the proofs C.S. bachelor students have to do of evaluating upper bounds of algorithms.

Lets say you hear about how matrix multiplication is a big problem in ML, and think you have a way to build an algorithm that should give you O(n*sqrt(n)) performance. Your idea happens to be an unusually complicated algorithm and thus a involves a complicated product; you think it will take you around 50 +-20 hours to prototype, and you don't expect to achieve O(n*sqrt(n)) your first try. You could start your project now and build a prototype as quickly as possible, so that you can get a concrete impression of your algorithms viability. Or, you could first sit and consider for a couple hours and see if there are any ways to test or debunk the feasibility of your algorithm. If you choose the first option, you might get twenty hours in and realize your mistake only then. If you choose the second option, you might realize, just by pondering constraints for an hour, that matrix multiplication requires at least O(n^2) reads, and that your algorithm can't in any universe work as fast as you expected it to, so no need to build a prototype without further considering where you're going wrong.

Some ideas aren't very easily validated. Art (I assume though I am not an artist) is an area where you pretty much just have a difficult to convey imagined finished product, and the best way to start validating is to build it and see if people like it. Lots of seed stage startups are founded to build things no one wants. The reason the team got funding anyways is often because the utility of the product they're trying to create is difficult to "debunk" from the outset, or fails in hard-to-anticipate ways that aren't caught by standard sanity checking.

However, outside of a few of those specific cases, most good ideas can be thought about. It might be impossible to completely rule out or in your hunch without building it first. But just by thinking about a proposed solution for the first twelve hours, you can usually establish some sort of probabilistic upper bound on the expected value and lower bound on the cost of implementation/maintenance. For a project that you think is going to take several months, even if you think there's only a small chance you will figure out a flaw in its viability without prototyping, it's worth it to sit down and do that sort of research.

None of this excludes trying to improve the source of your ideas, prototyping, talking to users, or fast iteration. All ideas are validated, though. The reason ideas come to your attention and stay there in the first place, among other things, is because they seem upon reflection plausible enough to be a good bet. The point of adding validation to that iteration process explicitly is to increase the thoroughness of your search for existing information that could encourage or discourage your efforts proportional to the costs associated with attempting.

But just because Etsy lacked some better ideas about how to optimize their product doesn't mean they didn't get important shit done. Within one year of its initial release, Etsy had gained 10,000 artists (craft makers), pitching 100,000 items, and had a market of approximately 40,000 buyers.

I agree, and that's why I clarified with

And clearly they were unimaginably successful anyways. Part of my point in the post is to show how poorly you can do things on the "make sure your decisions are correct" axis and still win hard.

I realize how hyperbolic my criticism of Etsy sounds now that I needed this long ass post to explain their judgement errors, but I really think going into this much detail is making the technique seem much more complex than it really is. If you're planning on spending two months improving the revenue created by feature X by 3%, do the napkin math to see if existing revenue coming from X justifies two months salary. If you're planning on making a widget that improves the experience of furniture purchasers on your site, make sure there are enough furniture purchasers (taking into consideration the new ones you will be enabling by said widget) to justify maintenance/implementation. According to the guy I linked to, those were the kinds of sanity checks that Etsy wasn't doing, which personally seems difficult to imagine for people that are otherwise obviously intensely competent.

Comment by lc on Stop saying wrong things · 2020-05-06T00:04:39.054Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

See commenting guidelines

Comment by lc on Stop saying wrong things · 2020-05-05T23:58:45.348Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW
That's quite an assertion. What's your source? Evidence? Or is this mere conjecture (here, in this sacred space!)?

Everything Robin Hanson/Eliezer Yudkowsky/Richard Thaler has written + https://i.kym-cdn.com/photos/images/facebook/001/820/208/0d5.jpg

Jesus! Failing to master a foreign language is a "pathology"? Lighten up, man. People try things to see if they'll enjoy them.

With regard to foreign languages, I disagree. Most people study foreign languages so they can use them, or at the very least most wouldn't try if they knew from the outset that there'd be no lasting utility to doing so. Language learning usually involves large time commitments and tedious amounts of memorization. If you study a foreign language because you think it will be useful or cool, and then don't end up speaking it to a degree that makes up for the time invested, then yes, that is a mistake in hindsight. That happens to be the experience of everyone I know, save a linguist friend of mine, that has studied a new language without moving to the country where they speak it. None of your statements are really analogous, because clearly you accomplished lots, and consider the journey worth the effort.

Have you ever run a fast-growing startup? There are a metric-shit-ton of things you could be working on. Multiple fires are burning. No one has the time or the resources to do all the things they could be doing. You also have to to look at all the things Etsy did instead of A/B testing, like working on their platform, building their company culture, fund-raising, etc. I'm running multiple e-commerce companies with a team of 20. I've never done a proper A/B, yet I've served tens of thousands of customers in 100+ countries. I could get to work right away on those A/B tests, but everything comes with opportunity costs. Times I spend on the A/B test project is time I could spend doing R&D for our new data model, mentoring other managers, doing financial analysis, or streamlining operations.

I think you mistook the A/B test thing as the only thing in that slideshow that was wrong with the way Etsy was prioritizing development for those first five years. A/B testing can absolutely be a wrong move depending on how many data points you could be collecting and what your programmers could be doing otherwise. I'm trying to build a startup right now and we don't do A/B testing because we don't have enough "interactions" on a regular basis to make it cost effective. But if you let your programmers start new, multi-month projects without asking quickly answered questions like "do we have enough customers who buy furniture for this feature to be worth maintaining or building", then that's clearly bad. It wasn't just that Etsy was too busy preventing the house from burning down to worry about building an A/B test infrastructure, they were advancing new, spurious features without thinking about them.

And clearly they were unimaginably successful anyways. Part of my point in the post is to show how poorly you can do things on the "make sure your decisions are correct" axis and still win hard.

I don't follow this line-of-argument. Are you saying you didn't know that you'd be weaker if you stopped working out? Surely you knew that. This doesn't sound like an a matter of "having correct information," but an issue of resolve. Motivation is complex. We can't just reach into our brains and flip a switch--and that's a good thing. It's how nature prevents one part of the mind from shutting down all the other parts. Instead, when motivating one's self, we have to rely on some of the same strategies and tactics we use when motivating others.

My point with the anecdote is that much of the time this is nonsense. I spent so much time twisting my brain into an M.C. Escher painting to try and push myself to take actions I knew were good for me, that I often forgot to try honestly bringing the costs and benefits of the thing to the forefront of my mind and seeing if that would be enough. It turns out, quite often enough it is, and even further sometimes I realize that I don't actually value the thing I'm trying to convince myself to do enough to do it.

Comment by lc on Stop saying wrong things · 2020-05-03T21:36:59.713Z · score: 5 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Most rationalists have lots of problems and believing that the biggest problem is consistently lack of willpower is the sort of blinding optimism I spoke about in the OP. I don't see why taking incorrect actions wouldn't make akrasia problems worse, and at best they're neutral because they're not advancing anything.

Comment by lc on TFW No Incels · 2020-05-03T21:34:31.956Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I'm a simple man. I see putanumonit post, I upvote.

Comment by lc on Generalized Efficient Markets and Academia · 2020-05-03T04:22:25.283Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Your tautologically efficient market is not what economists or anyone else in the world is talking about when they talk about a market being efficient. In the trivial sense you're posing the problem you would describe your market as satisfying people's needs even if people had parasitic worms in their brains that tricked them into thinking that mouse traps cured cancer. In the real world, people buy mousetraps because they *expect* those mouse traps to be more valuable than the price, for some definition of value that does not include "they bought the mouse trap". A pillar of one such value system might be "effectiveness at catching mice". In this scenario, people might be mistaken - they could have bounded rationality, they could have exploitable cognitive biases abused by advertisers, etc. The thing that makes financial markets resilient against this sort of problem is the nice property that rational actors are incentivized to take advantage of other peoples' missteps. Mouse trap buyers cannot do this - you can't buy a hundred mouse traps from an underrated dealer to correct the market, and you can't short a mouse trap dealer's traps because they are running deceptive advertising.

Comment by lc on Against strong bayesianism · 2020-05-01T20:58:16.892Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Somehow you and I are taking the exact opposite conclusions from that paragraph. He is explicitly noting that your interpretation is incorrect - that approximations are necessary because of time constraints. All he is saying is that underneath, the best possible action is determined by Bayesian arithmetic, even if it's better on net to choose the approximation because of compute constraints. Just because general relativity is more "true" than newtonian mechanics, doesn't mean that it's somehow optimal to use it to track the trajectory of mortar fire.

Comment by lc on Generalized Efficient Markets and Academia · 2020-05-01T10:17:46.188Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Not even. An analogy there would imply you could take advantage of people's lack of support of certain theories and collect against their underpricing of say, TDT. That would make it more efficient than the mouse trap market. Academics are normally just motivated wildly perpendicular to whatever consequences or value their work produces.

Comment by lc on lc's Shortform · 2020-05-01T07:48:12.471Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Does EY or RH even read this site anymore?

Comment by lc on Against strong bayesianism · 2020-05-01T04:07:38.257Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

To be honest, I don't really know what "Bayesianism as a conceptual framework" is, or if it even exists at all. Bayes theorem is an equation, and Bayesianism to the rest of the world is a formalization of probability based on Bayes theorem. It's certainly not this comical strawman of a hypothetical general AI that doesn't understand that its prediction algorithms take time to run.

Comment by lc on Hull: An alternative to shell that I'll never have time to implement · 2020-05-01T03:54:19.814Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Even the ramdisk would be an enormous slowdown because you're putting the CPU registers/stack all the way in ram, and because all your memory accesses are being passed through some sort of heavy filesystem api. Whether or not that matters depends on what you're doing, though.

I think the bigger thing is that in order to have this time travel feature, you'd have to save a copy of the history of every register somewhere in memory or somewhere on disk. Every 'i' in every for loop needs to be cached somewhere. There's gotta be a huge memory footprint, although I'd be excited to see how far you could take this.

Comment by lc on Generalized Efficient Markets and Academia · 2020-05-01T03:41:34.033Z · score: 5 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Two of these things are not like the others. People can have cognitive biases or bounded rationality that prevent them from making good decisions about mouse trap purchases despite it costing money. Unlike academia there is a direct incentive for these people to change their behavior; but that's as far as it goes. There's no good way to correct their decisions for profit like there is in a financial market.

Comment by lc on Forbidden Technology · 2020-05-01T03:22:35.882Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

You are very funny and have convinced me maybe possibly to try haskell again. But only maybe.

Comment by lc on Generalized Efficient Markets and Academia · 2020-05-01T03:19:40.029Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The problem with the mousetrap market, even under your framing of the problem, is that people are merely incentivized not to make incorrect decisions; there's no way to profit off of other peoples' poor choice of moustrap. Mousetraps are to financial markets as metaculus is to predictit. A better example would be the market for zero-day exploits; there not only are people incentivized to find exploitable bugs, but also to search under rocks other people are leaving unturned. Academia is simply that much worse than the mousetrap market, because in that case the real "consumers" are the engineers/randos who read and use the scientific literature to inform decisions, and scientists are poorly aligned with their needs.

Comment by lc on Fast Takeoff in Biological Intelligence · 2020-04-30T03:20:46.729Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I don't see why you mightn't as well say that about any sufficiently advanced "aligned" artificial intelligence.

Comment by lc on Fast Takeoff in Biological Intelligence · 2020-04-26T03:30:49.616Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Upon reflection, I think it's pretty obvious that superhumans are going to find it easier to solve the problem of intelligence and then code it out, rather than continue to increase the intelligence of their children through genetic modification. But note that I'm not talking about "selective breeding" here; I'm looking more at something like iterated embryo selection, where many many generations are bred in a short timespan, and then after that possibly direct genetic engineering. Many more than just 40 bits of selection can be applied in a few generations by our descendants than we can by straightforward embryo selection.

Comment by lc on Homeostasis and “Root Causes” in Aging · 2020-04-26T01:33:02.421Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

"The root cause of aging is biology."

Comment by lc on Forbidden Technology · 2020-04-26T00:08:56.600Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Leonard Recruiting. We're a recruiting company for penetration testers, right now specifically web application pentesters. My cofounder and I have been working on the product part time for four months (way too long, I know) and we plan on launching our platform in about a week, which is an open, dynamic, live computer hacking exam. We haven't even gotten seed funding yet, so it might be a little generous calling us a "startup", though recently we've actually been getting some unexpected revenue by building out our exam platform for small businesses that my cofounder knows personally.

Comment by lc on Forbidden Technology · 2020-04-25T23:51:28.016Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I don't really know what most programmers are like ¯\_(ツ)_/¯, I've never held a real software engineering job and most of my experience comes from my current attempt at building a startup. So far my cofounder seems fine with it, but we mostly work on different codebases.

Comment by lc on Fast Takeoff in Biological Intelligence · 2020-04-25T23:44:19.052Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

>(It seems likely that once you've picked the low hanging fruit like stuffing people's genomes as full of intelligence-linked genes as possible without giving them genetic diseases, it will be much easier to implement any new intelligence improvements you can think of in code, rather than in proteins. The human brain is a much more sophisticated starting point than any current AI programs, but is probably much harder to modify significantly.)

A lot of people make claims like this, and I think they're underestimating the flexibility of living things. Dogs and livestock have been artificially selected to emphasize unnatural traits to the point that they might not appear in a trillion wolves or boars, yet people consistently predict that the limit for human intelligence without debilitating disorders is going to be just above whoever is the Terence Tao of the era.

Comment by lc on Fast Takeoff in Biological Intelligence · 2020-04-25T23:38:21.112Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The major difference between biological and artificial takeoff is that with biological takeoff, the superintelligent agents would be humans, with human-ish values. They may not be entirely prosocial, but they don't need to be to keep from turning the world into paperclips. If they're anything like modern high profile supergeniuses they will just use their talents to make major scientific or industrial advances.

Comment by lc on Forbidden Technology · 2020-04-25T23:30:47.426Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

You misunderstand me. I don't use the simpler products because otherwise I worry about my own intelligence. What I found was that in order to protect my ego, and because I thought I was smarter than I was, I consistently used software engineering tools and platforms that were complicated to the point of hurting my ability to program.

I will remove Go from the above post because I think it doesn't fit; I dislike Go's genericless type system because it constrains my programs and not because I'm thinking about it all the time. With regard to "well-typed" programming languages, the problem isn't that they don't help me write more correct code - they do. The problem is that they make me think about types to a degree that's often unnecessary or irrelevant to solving the problem at hand, and while performing exploratory programming I have to deal with these type algebras that are a context switch from my ML or infrastructure problems. Most bugs are problems with semantics and not syntax, so normally thinking very hard about types turns out to be wasted effort in the long run.

Comment by lc on Forbidden Technology · 2020-04-25T23:19:00.730Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I actually find higher order functions like map/filter/reduce to be simpler in the long term than pervasive for loops, and my one major gripe with golang is its lack of generics that would let it have these. I don't really understand the hate recursion gets either, and you have to learn to use it in procedural languages anyways. My issue with "pure" functional programming languages, and I'm speaking with a sample size of one here (Haskell), is that Monads and I/O seem comically difficult to use or explain. It's possible that I just haven't put in the hours reading through long detailed explanations of these concepts, and that if I did it'd "click" and I'd never have to think about them again, but I find statistics textbooks easier to read than the myriad monad "tutorials" I've been handed for this language.

Comment by lc on The Chilling Effect of Confiscation · 2020-04-25T09:27:06.542Z · score: -7 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Hey, I was only following orders.

Comment by lc on Forbidden Technology · 2020-04-25T09:03:24.425Z · score: 8 (6 votes) · LW · GW

In software engineering I find a strong tendency in myself to lean towards harder-to-understand tooling in order to keep from feeling bad or worrying about my own intelligence. After becoming aware of this habit, I started to prefer PaaS (Heroku) over Iaas (AWS) for everything it's feasible to use it for, garbage collected languages (Go, Lisp, Python) over manual memory management (Zig, C, C++) for things that don't run on toasters, dynamic languages (Lisp, Python) over well typed (Haskell, TypeScript) languages, languages with small amounts of core features and constrained architecture choices (Lisp, Haskell, Go) over languages with lots and lots of features (Java, C++, JavaScript, Python), and procedural (Lisp, Go) over object-oriented or purely functional progamming languages (Java, Haskell, C#).

I have come to realize that there's a very big difference between technology that remains unused because it is hard to use, like Haskell, and technology that remains unused because it requires up front investment in the form of practice or study of arcane and uninteresting stuff, like Vim. I now pretty much religiously avoid use anything that involves ongoing intellectual effort on my part, as the tradeoff is almost never worth it. I might write a post about this and link it here.

Comment by lc on Zoom's security is not that bad · 2020-04-24T07:12:09.515Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

1.

>I'd categorize it more as 'collecting' than 'monitoring,'

>China filters outside traffic, and the U.S. doesn't, so the U.S. must not be collecting that data for later analysis.

>I had a friend who worked for the NSA who told me it was alright. I suppose that means it was alright.

You're trying to cast ambiguity on things that are already wide public knowledge. The NSA collects and *analyzes* this data. That the U.S. doesn't block Chinese websites on an ISP level is entirely irrelevant. It makes no technical sense to halt a user's internet connection in real time while you analyze it for terrorist activity, when you can concurrently send it off to an NSA server and get the same analysis seconds later. The Great Firewall is analyzing ISP traffic so that it can find its destination and drop it if it's on a blacklist. These are two completely different technical and political goals.

There is always going to be far more data than is being used when you collect data on the scale the NSA does. While I generally don't think you shouldn't take this guys word at face value, this fact does not preclude any level of surveillance or misconduct on the NSA's part. NSA employees could be sitting in their office chairs nine hours of the day looking at nudes or emails of journalists and "most data would remain unused", or so your coworker might report.

2. With regards to the ones I'm familiar, you are, in practice, incorrect, or at least most police/spy agencies currently disagree with your cost benefit analysis. This is like saying that it's better to try to collude with the bartender at a place where the Mafia hangs out than it is to just plant wiretaps when everyone has for the night. The NSA and the MSS don't *want* people who work at a technology company to know how and where they are collecting data. It unnecessarily compromises the entire point of collecting such data in the first place. The average user is nabbed in the process of clandestinely hacking "high value targets" like Google.

Comment by lc on Zoom's security is not that bad · 2020-04-16T22:45:11.324Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

C is a very old programming language that, while very close to the hardware and good for programming something that needs to run very very quickly, has very few guardrails to prevent really nasty memory corruption exploits. There are lots of footguns when programming in C that basically ensure that a program with enough code, no matter how simple, has some ungodly race condition or heap overflow that allows remote attackers to take control of your entire computer. Almost everything that doesn't run on a toaster should be programmed in something else, but people still make the decision to use this language.

Comment by lc on Zoom's security is not that bad · 2020-04-16T22:06:51.431Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

1. Research the 2013 global surveillance disclosures by Edward Snowden. The NSA has been hacking and monitoring the users of basically every large American and foreign technology company for decades.

2. Yes, using servers in a different country mitigates the physical threat of that country's police raiding data centers and putting malware on disk drives. It does not prevent a government from hacking remote access to Zoom's servers, which is far more convenient, quiet, and effective for large intelligence organizations.

3. Just by going on how much data Microsoft collects from average Windows users, this doesn't seem to be a strong effort for that cause.

Comment by lc on Zoom's security is not that bad · 2020-04-16T21:59:51.496Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

In my opinion, Session is by far the best architecturally designed encrypted messaging app. It's very new, and probably has some RCE's hidden in there, but every other active messaging app I've come across has critical OPSEC flaws that make it inherently inferior. Just ignore the cryptocurrency stuff if you want, though I think it could help with a lot of problems traditional anonymizing networks have; the important part is that it allows for anonymized, *decentralized* communication, and isn't coded in C.

Comment by lc on Zoom's security is not that bad · 2020-04-05T22:35:48.528Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I guess there's a difference between "sloppy" and "Zoom is malware", which is the official position of security twitter and some parts of the media as of today. As bad as they are, I'm afraid none of the examples of bugs in Bruce Schneier's article look remarkably different than what you can find reading the weekly security reports on hackerone.com.

Comment by lc on Zoom's security is not that bad · 2020-04-05T21:38:53.577Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'm aware of all of those things. My point is, aside from industrial espionage, all of those things are true of American spy agencies as well, and none of them are signfiicantly mitigated by using a company that does not possess Chinese servers. Perhaps if you're handling trade secrets, you may want to consider using something like Session, Keybase, or Signal. But clearly, it's not "rational" to switch to Microsoft Teams to keep your high school math sessions safe from Chinese eyes, and that's what makes me frustrated people are switching to an inferior product.

Comment by lc on Zoom's security is not that bad · 2020-04-05T21:11:13.819Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Those politicians/military personnel also tend to have pretty strict protocols on how to handle classified information, deviation of which is already illegal. Most people with access to classified material like that can go to jail for putting their iPhone chargers into government computers, let alone talking about it over the internet on their home laptops. It's not that it couldn't happen, it's that I can't believe there are many people on the margin who know what end to end encryption is, need it, hear Zoom has it, and then decide to use Zoom instead of some other clearnet alternative that would have saved them.

Comment by lc on Open & Welcome Thread - March 2020 · 2020-03-20T00:16:02.727Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Do you have prior positions on relationships that you don't want to get corrupted through the dating process, or something else? Intelligence beyond your cone of tolerance is usually a trait that people pursue because they think it's "ethical", not because they're genuinely attracted to it.

Comment by lc on Kerry's Shortform · 2020-03-19T23:53:14.471Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

What's the word for when you eschew political rhetoric, and then directly therafter start decrying the state of our Institutions via political rhetoric?

Comment by lc on lc's Shortform · 2020-03-19T23:50:30.671Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Two caveats to efficient markets in finance that I've just considered, but don't see mentioned a lot in discussions of bubbles like the one we just experienced, at least as a non-economist:


First: Irrational people are constantly entering the market, often in ways that can't necessarily be predicted. The idea that people who make bad trades will eventually lose all of their money and be swamped by the better investors is only valid inasmuch as the actors currently participating in the market stay the same. This means that it's perfectly possible for either swarms of new irrational investors outside the market to temporarily prop up the price of a stock, or for large amounts of insider investors to suddenly *become* irrational because of some environmental change that the rest of the market doesn't have the ability to account for. Those irrational people might be cycled out, but maybe not before some new irrational traders move in, etc.


Two: Just because what is being done in the stock market is "stock trading" doesn't mean that the kinds of people who are successful in one region, or socioeconomic climate, or industry are going to be successful in all trading environments. Predicting which companies are going to pay the most dividends has turned out to be a very general problem, partly because analysts have gotten so good at it, but overfitting is still an issue. In the 50s, it was probably important for investors to have a steady hand, be somewhat naturally rational, and maybe quick at mental math. Now, you just have to be a top 0.001% data scientist. The good traders in both groups of stock analysts have to be very intelligent, but there are also probably non-overlapping traits that one group might possess and not the other. I doubt the data scientists Renaissance Technologies has today are as calm under pressure as they'd need to be if they were making trades by hand instead of solving the more abstract problem of building the model that implies arbitrage opportunities.


I think part of the reason that COVID-19 blindsided the market so hard was the effects of #2. The 50s-era stock traders don't control most of the capital anymore. And I may be underestimating how good they are, but I think most quantitative trading firms were just unable to anticipate an event like COVID-19 because Goldman developed an adaption that said "stop trading based off expert opinion". That adaption worked to filter out competing firms for a decade, but then it failed this year in a way that seemed bewildering to rationalists, because nobody is old enough to think to make a pandemic-modeling algorithm.

Obviously, if these meta-trends can be predicted, then someone will get good at meta-finance and pre-emptively stock their staff with quants in 1990 and temporarily hire new workers for Q1 2020. The existence of any actor that is completely competent in all variations of finance will eventually solve finance. But if some aspects of them can't be, then this could be an inherently limiting part of the sectors' effectiveness.

Comment by lc on How can we protect economies during massive public health crises? · 2020-03-19T00:45:04.552Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think Robin Hanson's idea about being able to sue people who get you infected ought to do a lot to help prevent the spread of disease in general. It might have even prevented this entire disaster if it was instilled enough on a cultural level.

Comment by lc on Is the coronavirus the most important thing to be focusing on right now? · 2020-03-18T22:54:08.436Z · score: 5 (9 votes) · LW · GW

We're going to head into a great depression. This will genuinely, not bullshitting, for reals this time have enormous ripple effects on all those topics, and Lesswrong is right for emphasizing it. I never thought I'd say this, but I'm glad we have stopped talking about Malaria and X-Risk and start talking about what's on CNN.

Comment by lc on I don't understand Rice's Theorem and it's killing me · 2020-03-02T03:40:42.729Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This is basically the explanation I came up with by the end of the post; that I wouldn't necessarily know if I just hadn't simulated the billiard balls far enough. It's much easier for me to understand that there's no way to prove in general for all programs that the billiard balls find themselves in a particular state ever; at least, that sounds like a much harder problem so I'm much more comfortable writing it off as unsolvable.

Watching the video now. Interesting turns of phrase this speaker's got.

Comment by lc on George's Shortform · 2020-01-22T22:53:28.606Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

#1 and #2 can both be combined into the same prescription: don't learn new things if their knowledge doesn't improve your life satisfaction in some way. This is basically a tautology, and if you're a rationalist it's restating the habit of making beliefs pay rent in anticipated experiences, since that's their only utility.

#3 I think is hitting on something, and I think it's that we should be broadly skeptical of arguments put forth by people or organizations genuinely capable of manipulating us.

Comment by lc on StoiaMillawi's Shortform · 2020-01-22T17:04:31.147Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

What does it mean to "wait" for infinite universes? Do you think the universe big bounces over and over again? Are you using "infinity" as a shorthand for "really long time"? Won't the heat death of the universe happen before atoms somewhere spontaneously rearrange themselves into a structure like my brain?

Comment by lc on Three signs you may be suffering from imposter syndrome · 2020-01-22T05:38:16.132Z · score: -1 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Yes. My definition of "imposter syndrome" is not "imposters". It is an independent and diagnostically valuable delusion in which someone, despite good evidence via their achievements, believes they are incompetent frauds. My thesis is that people who truly underestimate themselves are rare and that imposter syndrome as defined here is not really a prevalent delusion, but a meme propagated because it is psychologically comforting.

Identity thieves do not suffer from imposter syndrome because their self-perception is correct and is not part of a wider pattern of inconsistent reasoning.

Comment by lc on Three signs you may be suffering from imposter syndrome · 2020-01-22T05:28:59.460Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

[I reply multiple times to comments with multiple independent critiques of my post]

>and it’s because we have a lot of our self-image riding on it, not because we’re chronically depressed.
This whole piece is about how people are wrong. Are people usually right about knowing they're not depressed? (People around them? Their coworkers?)

Depression was the wrong word. My coworkers may be depressed and I don't quite know if I'd notice. But if depression were the reason they doubted themselves endlessly, there'd be no reason to invent "imposter syndrome" except to describe a symptom of depression.

Although, as someone who was hospitalized because of depression, most of the people who have described themselves as former (or current) imposter syndrome suffers did not seem to be depressed before self-diagnosis.