[link] "Paper strips" memory technique 2018-10-06T12:11:35.248Z · score: 13 (6 votes)
Moral frameworks and the Harris/Klein debate 2018-05-03T09:49:03.626Z · score: 14 (7 votes)
[LINK] How to increase conscientiousness 2013-10-04T15:26:16.002Z · score: 0 (7 votes)
[LINK] Why Your Customers Would Be Happier If You Charged More 2012-09-21T20:10:39.525Z · score: 0 (7 votes)
Heading off a near-term AGI arms race 2012-08-22T14:23:58.382Z · score: 7 (18 votes)
How to enjoy being wrong 2011-07-27T05:48:01.005Z · score: 20 (25 votes)


Comment by lincolnquirk on What Programming Language Characteristics Would Allow Provably Safe AI? · 2019-08-29T03:13:50.466Z · score: 8 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I think the programming language could be key to a self-improving AI being able to prove that the new implementation achieves the same goals as the old one, as well as us humans being able to prove that the AI is going to do what we expect.

To me it seems like memory safety is price of entry but I expect the eventual language will end up needing to be quite friendly to static analysis and theorem proving. That probably means very restricted side effects and mutation, as well as statically checkable memory and compute limits. Possibly also taking hardware unreliability into account, although I have no idea how to do that.

The language should be easy to write code in — if it’s too hard to write the code, you’re going to be out-competed by unfriendly AI projects — but also easy to write and prove fancy types/static assertions/contracts, because humans are going to be needing to prove a lot of stuff about code in this language and it seems like the proofs should also be in the code. My current vision would be some combination of Coq, Rust and Liquid Haskell.

Comment by lincolnquirk on Clothing For Men · 2019-01-17T23:35:04.909Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

This is great! I've bookmarked it. I really appreciate that you listed brands -- that will be a generator of lots of useful fashion ideas.

Uniqlo has been my clothing go-to for years now (I probably have bought 20+ t-shirts from them, all my jeans for the last few years, all my underwear, and even a few jackets and such), so I second that recommendation, especially for skinnier men.

I would additionally recommend people go shopping in person at thrift stores. Thrift stores are a good way to get a taste of styles or brands that you're not sure will fit into your wardrobe -- if you take a risk on a piece of clothing and it ends up not working out, at a thrift store you're usually only out $15 or so. (Though it's worth noting that most expensive clothing stores have at least a 30 day return policy, usually quite a bit more than that.)

Comment by lincolnquirk on Clothing For Men · 2019-01-17T23:25:58.409Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I would also add shoes -- in the US, I see men wearing a variety of shoe types:

  • Fashion sneakers instead of athletic sneakers
  • boat shoes
  • brown leather shoes (though black is essential for formal occasions, it comes off as too formal for me most of the time). For this I also think a brown belt is important to go with it.
Comment by lincolnquirk on Moral frameworks and the Harris/Klein debate · 2018-05-09T10:42:21.075Z · score: 24 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Ezra seemed to be arguing both at the social-shaming level (implying things like "you are doing something normatively wrong by giving Murray airtime") and at the epistemic level (saying "your science is probably factually wrong because of these biases"). The mixture of those levels muddles the argument.

In particular, it signaled to me that the epistemic-level argument was weak -- if Ezra would have been able to get away with arguing exclusively from the epistemic level, he would have (because, in my view, such arguments are more convincing), so choosing not to do so suggests weakness on that front.

(Why do I think this? I came away from the debate podcast frustrated with Ezra. Sam was being insistent about arguing exclusively on the epistemic level. Ezra was having none of it. After thinking about it for a long time, I came to the summary I wrote above, which I felt was more favorable / more of a steelman to Ezra than my initial impression from the debate.)

So, at least to convince me, if Ezra wanted to make the points you are suggesting he make, then he should have stuck to debating Sam on epistemic grounds and avoiding all normative implications.

Comment by lincolnquirk on Moral frameworks and the Harris/Klein debate · 2018-05-09T10:28:07.992Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks. This is a useful distinction, and I'm not sure yet what it means for my understanding of the arguments, but I'll have to process it and hopefully update my thinking on this matter.

Comment by lincolnquirk on Ways to improve LessWrong · 2014-09-15T01:36:47.519Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

For the same reason the site exists, which is to spread rationality. This seems like the default position.

If you disagree, I think it should be because you think "spreading rationality" is not the goal (perhaps LW exists as a place for a certain group of people to hang out?) or that the current size is optimal or too large for its purpose (which seems quite unlikely).

Comment by lincolnquirk on Bragging Thread, August 2014 · 2014-08-12T03:46:03.165Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Not quite ready to announce publicly. Will pm you though.

Comment by lincolnquirk on Bragging Thread, August 2014 · 2014-08-03T20:31:49.843Z · score: 21 (21 votes) · LW · GW

My startup recently closed an incredibly important deal, and had amazing growth in July, and important people are interested in investing. Proud to have gotten this far. Excited to see what's next. A bit overworked but it feels kinda good.

Comment by lincolnquirk on Total Utility is Illusionary · 2014-06-15T04:18:48.831Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It's not obvious that you've gained anything here. We can reduce to total utilitarianism -- just assume that everyone's utility is zero at the decision point. You still have the repugnant conclusion issue where you're trying to decide whether to create more people or not based on summing utilities across populations.

Comment by lincolnquirk on Bragging Thread, June 2014 · 2014-06-08T23:28:59.818Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Congratulations! I'm generally willing to answer questions from people who are self-teaching CS - I'm sure you have plenty of people in your world who are similarly willing. But just in case, feel free to contact me.

Comment by lincolnquirk on Bragging Thread, June 2014 · 2014-06-08T23:03:06.540Z · score: 28 (30 votes) · LW · GW

I met an awesome girl who was single that I really liked, and followed the classic steps (1- be attractive; 2- don't be unattractive) correctly, and she liked me too!

I realize this sounds kind of trivial (especially since I've dated several attractive people in the past), but the reason it seems like an accomplishment worth bragging about was that I have never previously had a self-conception as an attractive person. I could always explain why others chose to date/sleep with me without needing to believe that I was actually attractive. But I have worked for several years on increasing my attractiveness (gym, social confidence, body language, posture, conversation skills, haircuts) and I am now starting to believe it, a little bit. Also I'm older, that probably helps too.

Comment by lincolnquirk on [Meta] The Decline of Discussion: Now With Charts! · 2014-06-05T17:23:40.718Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I once posted to Main (

Afterwards, I felt bad about it somehow - like I had done something wrong or unappreciated -- despite having a substantially positive karma balance on that post. I think the reason was that almost all the top-level comments were neutral or negative and there was not much encouraging discussion, and I think the post might have been moved to Discussion - it was certainly not promoted.

It's actually interesting to go back and look at that because I now realize that that was a reasonably successful post and probably should have encouraged me further. Instead it did not. I wonder if something similar has happened to others.

Comment by lincolnquirk on How to Beat Procrastination (to some degree) (if you're identical to me) · 2014-05-07T05:45:20.132Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

If you have a habit of checking other sites, LeechBlock is enough of an impediment that it breaks you out of your habit.

Comment by lincolnquirk on Ergonomics Revisited · 2014-04-23T01:31:42.190Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Yah, +1 for kinesis keyboard for ergonomics. I get wrist pain when I use my laptop (don't use my Kinesis) for about a week; switching back to it tends to quickly relieve the pain.

Comment by lincolnquirk on How long will Alcor be around? · 2014-04-18T03:15:02.617Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

The reference class of "companies" is the wrong class. Unfortunately I don't think there is a good reference class. "Organizations who exist primarily to survive, rather than grow / make money" would be a good class, but I can't think of anything else much like this.

Oh wait, people. Like survivalist organizations, humans exist primarily to survive and we consume resources at a predictable rate. On the other hand there are a lot of things that make humans different from organizations. The relevant differences: a) we die of natural causes, whereas organizations don't; b) we have one intelligence directing our actions and choices, whereas organizations have no intrinsic intelligence and depend on their human constituency/directorship for this. Are there other relevant differences?

Comment by lincolnquirk on Effective Effective Altruism Fundraising and Movement-Building · 2014-03-29T03:21:29.891Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

"Movement building" can mean a ton of things. I would actually like to taboo it since it's so broad. We should evaluate individual ideas on what they actually achieve.

Things that EA folks have done which seem like they might be "movement building" --

  • giving TED talks
  • running the EA camp at Burning Man
  • putting on the EA Summit
  • founding GiveWell
  • posting on the EA Facebook page
  • pledging to give 10% of income

you see, these things are all quite different...

Comment by lincolnquirk on Open thread, 11-17 March 2014 · 2014-03-12T13:52:07.649Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Hi, I worked in the game industry for a while. I worked on AAA titles, indie stuff and semi-indie. I'm not a designer though.

I would say that the best way to become who you want to be is to make many of your own excellent SMALL indie stuff and work your way up from there. Fortunately you're in the right double major! Build your own games, from scratch, over and over again until you produce something really good. Make little 24 or 48-hour games for hackathons, ludum dare, global game jam, etc. I can't give you better advice than to simply scale down your ambitions a lot. If you've never finished anything then that's your major problem and you desperately need to leverage some success spirals before you can dive into a bigger idea.

If you have a giant idea that you want to implement but it's too big, bite off a tiny chunk. Maybe it's a gameplay mechanic, maybe an art style. If you demonstrate a kernel of something that seems good, then you will be encouraged spend more time improving it. I think there are good subreddits for indie games where you can get feedback online.

Another way that an artist friend got into the industry was by taking a QA job at an AAA studio. Then he spent a ton of time outside work learning the tools that the artists used, playing around and making cool levels and showing off his skills. He made friends in the art department and showed them his stuff, and when he finally made something impressive, the art people showed it to their bosses and he got promoted to an art position. This strategy requires substantial willingness to grind, both as a QA person (the job is ridiculously boring and requires long hours) plus the outside-work time.

Comment by lincolnquirk on Academia as a career option, its social value, and alternatives · 2014-03-11T20:20:07.474Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Here's my experience: I started a Ph.D program in computer science (focus in systems and/or programming languages and/or certified programming). I took a few classes in those areas which were really fun and reasonably challenging. I also started research, which was boring, but it was only the first semester and I wasn't working on my own project.

Then I got an offer to co-found a startup that I couldn't refuse, so I left my Ph.D program after one semester and went to do startups.

While I was reasonably happy with my life in academia for the time I was there, I have been generally (though not always) more self-satisfied with my work in startups. I currently expect to make a greater impact with my work on startups. The only way I could imagine work in academia being more impactful is if I were working on a research project whose fruits I expected to be directly used by people doing impactful work (top candidate would be making a certified programming language that could be used to build and prove a Friendly AI correct). I could definitely see myself heading in that direction but progress felt very slow -- that even with very good use of time in my PhD program, I am not sure would have advanced my skills enough to do a good job at succeeding at such a task. Whereas I feel like I'm making really fast progress towards startups that will succeed.

Comment by lincolnquirk on What we learned about Less Wrong from Cognito Mentoring advising · 2014-03-07T14:15:33.376Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Quora is highly browseable. Stack Exchange is also somewhat browseable, but they are usually technical questions which are not very fun to browse. Quora has been really useful to me as an entrepreneur because they have a lot of answers from CEOs to strategic questions about startup founding. I would definitely recommend browsing it to entrepreneurs.

Comment by lincolnquirk on Proportional Giving · 2014-03-02T23:57:18.580Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I try to apply the hybrid philosophy of: "work hard, make money, give what you can afford to give today, give yourself a near-mode incentive to make more money, and create savings for the future".

The savings one is a big one you didn't mention. I feel like my future self has a high chance to smack me if I commit too much money now. It seems like the places I would give today can benefit more now from my donation than in the future, but I may find better places to spend the money or give it away in the future. Hence the hybrid.

Comment by lincolnquirk on Literature-review on cognitive effects of modafinil (my bachelor thesis) · 2014-01-10T05:39:09.497Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Caffeine acts as a motivation enhancer for me. It reliably raises my mood levels and gets me off the couch.

Comment by lincolnquirk on What are you working on? January 2014 · 2014-01-07T01:49:07.748Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

This is cool. I'm a PL enthusiast myself and have occasionally been interested in code generation like this. What kind of stuff can it do?

Comment by lincolnquirk on What are you working on? January 2014 · 2014-01-03T02:34:41.607Z · score: 13 (13 votes) · LW · GW

I just started a new business: software for sending money from the US to foreign countries. We compete with Western Union and Moneygram. We are starting with Kenya and sending money to the mobile money system in use there, M-Pesa.

The goals are: 1) to make money (which, once earned, will mostly be spent on effective altruist causes); and 2) make direct impact by a) reducing fees to send money to the developing world, and b) growing the remittance market resulting in wealth redistribution.

Why this project and not others? I believe that for people who have the capability to start companies, starting for-profit companies is one of the best things they can do. Occasionally startups hit it big, and when they do, they tend to make direct positive impact as well as money for the founders. I have selected this startup idea as a pretty good balance between direct impact and chances of success.

Recent progress: Today I talked to six Kenyan immigrants who worked in the US. Five of them currently send money using Western Union, and all five were quite enthusiastic about our product, enough to offer help and introductions. Two of them were most excited about M-Pesa as the way recipients could receive the money, and the other three were most excited about lower fees.

The website is currently at . I'm looking to talk to people who a) send money to other countries regularly; b) have experience with federal or state money transmitter laws; or c) have other potentially useful information that I haven't thought of.

Comment by lincolnquirk on Group Rationality Diary, October 16-31 · 2013-10-17T15:42:28.800Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Yep, I intend to! I'm trying to further automate the system with an actual computer controlled candy dispenser, but that part isn't built yet, and it's not clear if it's needed because it seems already to be working.

Comment by lincolnquirk on How to Beat Procrastination (to some degree) (if you're identical to me) · 2013-10-17T15:29:45.695Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Focus@Will also acts as a pomodoro timer.

Comment by lincolnquirk on Group Rationality Diary, October 16-31 · 2013-10-17T15:24:42.100Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Setup a system to reward myself for checking things off a to-do list. It has caused me to actually maintain the to-do list accurately (it's been nearly a week now - most to-do list things I've tried have only lasted a couple of days).

It works by using a Google Spreadsheet script to (with 50% probability) send me a text message saying "go get a candy" whenever I mark an X in a certain column in the spreadsheet. I actually do go get these candies immediately when I get this text message.

Comment by lincolnquirk on How to Beat Procrastination (to some degree) (if you're identical to me) · 2013-10-17T02:18:47.311Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Tools I use to help achieve #1: LeechBlock (Firefox) or Chrome Nanny (Chrome).

Tool I use to help achieve #2: Beeminder.

Tools I use to help achieve #3: Focus@Will and Coffitivity.

Comment by lincolnquirk on Time-logging programs and/or spreadsheets · 2013-10-17T02:14:49.001Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I track my time using RescueTime. The value to me is improving my calibration with respect to how well I feel I'm working, as compared to my actual RescueTime hours. Sometimes I think "Wow, I really worked a lot today" when in fact I didn't get many hours in, and I'd rather have my intuition match the metrics. I don't have a special justification/goal beyond that but I'm hoping something useful pops out.

I suspect that this is an instance of low cost, low median outcomes, but with high upside -- it's unlikely you'll find something that makes a difference, but the cost isn't very high, and there's always a chance that, without putting numbers on it, you are missing some productivity intervention which would make a big difference to you. For example, perhaps you think poorly when you're sleep deprived, but you don't know it, but tracking productivity would let you know that's happening.

At the NY Quantified Self meetup a few weeks ago, somebody reported tracking her post-concussion symptoms and discovered that, in fact, she wasn't suffering from a concussion at all -- it was a very different condition which required separate treatment.

Comment by lincolnquirk on [LINK] Productivity Ninja: 5 Powerful Tips For Getting More Stuff Done · 2013-10-16T17:06:08.724Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

This list is pretty basic, and the tips work: I would expect most people interested in productivity (a lot of people on this site) to scan the list and nod their head to each one -- "yep I know that".

So if you read this and are surprised at any point, or think "I'm not sure if I do that" then you should pay attention, because there's low hanging fruit to be picked in productivity.

Interestingly, the blog author misses a big one, which is captured in the Charlie Munger quote: self-improvement has big returns, and you should spend a substantial amount of time on it.

I'll also paraphrase the five items: know what times of day are your most productive times; get the right amount of sleep; find ways to reduce distractions and external noise; take advantage of your setting (at my desk, in bed) as a cue; and work on things you're passionate about.

Comment by lincolnquirk on Help us name a short primer on AI risk! · 2013-09-18T23:57:41.183Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Along the lines of "Fragile Future" - I like alliteration:

  • The Common Cause: how artificial intelligence will save the world -- or destroy it. (neat double meaning, maybe a bit too abstracted)
  • The Digital Demon (uhm... a bit too personified)
  • The Silicon Satan (okay, this is getting ridiculous)

Honestly I really like Fragile Future though.

Comment by lincolnquirk on Winter Solstice 2013 Kickstarter - The Big One. · 2013-09-16T06:16:10.856Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Ray, you are awesome and this stuff is awesome also. Pledged.

For others: if you want to know if you'll enjoy the stuff Ray produces, I would say if you enjoy the "humanism" arc of HPMOR ( you will certainly enjoy this. For some reason that chapter, and Ray's work, both resonate very strongly emotionally with me.

Comment by lincolnquirk on What's Your Hourly Rate? · 2013-09-12T00:46:00.216Z · score: 16 (16 votes) · LW · GW

Oh hello, this is mine. Thanks for submitting it.

Comment by lincolnquirk on Mistakes repository · 2013-09-10T02:58:20.745Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I would recommend the book Ruhlman's Twenty ( It's not a cookbook, though it has recipes -- it's a thorough overview on the purpose of twenty basic ingredients in cooking (water, eggs, butter, salt, etc.).

Comment by lincolnquirk on What should a college student do to maximize future earnings for effective altruism? · 2013-08-29T06:11:34.381Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'd call it a startup when you work fulltime on it, and it's designed for fast growth (as in Paul Graham's "Startup = Growth" essay,

Venture funded is a big barrier, and filters a lot of startups. But it mostly filters them by personality type. I expect that most smart, extremely resourceful, good work ethic people could get venture funding if they wanted it. These attributes are what Y Combinator filters for. But the real correlate with success (and therefore money-making) is finding product/market fit. I think that's a lot harder than getting venture funding, and a lot more important.

Comment by lincolnquirk on What should a college student do to maximize future earnings for effective altruism? · 2013-08-28T02:17:23.092Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Startups! (I do startups.)

The path to success at startups is a long one and you aren't guaranteed to succeed. But you can increase your chances massively. Programming is a critical skill; I think most new big companies have substantial programming components, though a lot of the low-hanging software-only ideas are plucked, at this point. So I wouldn't only study programming.

Social skills are pretty damn important. Social skills I am working on for my job: body language; talking to strangers; pitching; quickly evaluating people; overcoming social anxiety & aversion; public speaking; 1-on-1s; writing in order to be understood.

To address your other bullets: Internships are great, definitely do them. I'd only train "networking" to the extent of "getting people to perceive value when they meet you". I wouldn't spend too much time on "networking events" because there's a horrendous negative selection effect there. Leadership is too vague and you should define what you mean by that. Only do research if you're interested in it, but if you are, you should do a lot of it and focus on it because you could make actual useful progress and that's impressive. (If you're not interested you probably won't make progress so don't waste your time.) Explore career development centers but mostly ignore what they say. Studying abroad is something you should do if it'll be fun and edifying, not for any direct-to-resume purpose.

Comment by lincolnquirk on Learning programming: so I've learned the basics of Python, what next? · 2013-06-20T04:48:07.270Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'm a mobile & web & backend developer & startup founder, and I will strongly claim that mobile is the future and that web apps are dying. Backends are still ridiculously useful, but they're much more in the form of an API.

My recommendation to the OP would be to learn another language, and make that language Objective-C or Java (depending on what kind of smartphone s/he has), and practice building apps with Python backends.

Comment by lincolnquirk on Initial Thoughts on Personally Finding a High-Impact Career · 2013-06-20T04:44:29.704Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

How long have you spent trying to solve the "no good ideas" problem?

It seems like the value of information here is ridiculously high. If you can think of even one good idea which enables you to start a career that you would love and that would allow you to make a huge impact on the world, certainly you could justify spending a whole year of your life just finding that one idea. But most people who make this statement can probably not report spending even a single hour applying their full effort to coming up with that idea.

Comment by lincolnquirk on How to incentivize LW wiki edits? · 2012-12-05T06:52:09.235Z · score: 7 (9 votes) · LW · GW

The purpose of the LW wiki is being confused with the purpose of LW, and I fear this is hurting wiki adoption.

When I tell people what LW is, I tell them "it's a community that grew up around some very good blog posts". The blog posts espouse a specific worldview which is shared among the community.

But the LW wiki is supposed to be (as I understand it) a place where people explain and combine academic work in certain fields.

The people who you want to be doing academic work are probably mostly not part of the community, and lots of community members don't have the expertise or interest to do the academic work.

I'm not sure LW can "be both". It seems like one identity or another will always dominate. The LW wiki needs its own identity, and its own community norms, and it probably shouldn't import them from LW community, because you'll turn off a substantial number of the types of people you need in order to make a wiki successful.

So, the suggestion is to separate the LW wiki identity from the LW community. Probably not calling the wiki Less Wrong at all.

Comment by lincolnquirk on How to incentivize LW wiki edits? · 2012-12-05T06:41:52.753Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Payment oriented:

  • Pay after they write, for particularly valuable improvements, rather than commissioning improvements.
  • Pay based on community agreement (upvote changes)
  • Pay based on lottery (triggering intermittent rewards)
Comment by lincolnquirk on How to incentivize LW wiki edits? · 2012-12-05T06:30:02.882Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Make the wiki the front-and-center place where LW's content resides.

Today, most of the interesting content is in the Sequences, which are interlinked to each other (to some degree), but which do not link to the wiki. You could move the Sequences to the wiki. This would get people onto it. Part of why the Sequences are considered to be poorly organized is that the organization efforts can't touch the actual Sequences. Moving them to the wiki would change this. I expect the Sequences to improve with more eyes.

(Potential drawback: people don't expect blog posts to appear in wiki format, and could easily be confused about what Less Wrong was.)

Comment by lincolnquirk on How to incentivize LW wiki edits? · 2012-12-05T06:20:56.561Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Seconded. I actually DID get an account at one point, but it was a lot of work and I almost bailed, and I could easily imagine many others not getting as far.

Comment by lincolnquirk on Morale management for entrepreneurs · 2012-09-30T13:47:09.046Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

One thing that seems to help me during the rough times is allowing myself to say "If it's still not going well, I'll give up / try to sell after ". Invariably, the few months come along and either I've pivoted, or have had some recent level of success, or learned something that makes me curious, and I have no interest in giving up. Repeat until success. :)

Comment by lincolnquirk on UPDATE: Society of Venturism is spearheading Kim Suozzi's cryopreservation charity · 2012-08-27T14:41:50.174Z · score: 13 (13 votes) · LW · GW

I just donated $100. I second the request for an update on funding progress. And I'm totally coming to the party on the other side. :)

I donated because I want to support cryonics movement-building, and Kim seems like a great poster child for this purpose.

Kim, I have no idea how much time free time you have, but given that you're in a little bit of a spotlight right now, you may be able to construct an opportunity to create a larger public discussion about cryonics through the media. Assuming your suspension is funded, that's probably one of the most impactful things you could do to increase the chances that you and other cryo patients will wake up.

Comment by lincolnquirk on Who Wants To Start An Important Startup? · 2012-08-17T02:57:51.419Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Product Distribution in Rural Africa (" for the developing world")

Manufactured goods can improve the lives of poor people drastically at very little cost. Some low-cost frequent buys are already well-distributed, like soap and prepaid phones. But bigger-ticket items are not -- for example, hand carts and solar powered lanterns. Existing microfinance structures and NGOs can help farmers obtain these items, and the items' high utility quickly allows the farmer to repay any loan. However, the gap is distribution: the farmers don't know that the items exist, and if they found out about the item, they would still have trouble getting it.

The idea is to develop a distribution network. This is not an easy task. To help farmers learn about the goods, you could distribute brochures via NGOs and the microfinance system. To transport the goods, use group buys to lower the costs, and the bus network seems potentially viable for small deliveries. In a few years, the internet and smartphones will be widely distributed in the developing world, so the possibilities for a technology-based platform will start to come into play. This is a slow, long-term idea; there will not be any cashing out anytime soon, and it's going to be a painful grind. That said, I think it's an enormous business with a huge positive impact on the world.

Note: I'm working on another startup right now and don't intend to switch ideas until this one is done, so this is a long-term play. But I figured I'd post the idea anyway, see if people have interest or special insight. I know someone who's started an NGO to produce hand carts ( as well as some people in the optimal philanthropy community, who presumably have connections via NGOs to Africa.

Comment by lincolnquirk on Leaps of faith in college selection · 2012-07-28T01:48:34.891Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, I'm updating on this a little bit, but I'm still not fully convinced -- do you have some good examples of people who are clearly not stupid or lazy who regret taking out loans to go to a better school?

Comment by lincolnquirk on Leaps of faith in college selection · 2012-07-28T01:46:53.103Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

OK, I'm updating on the loans thing, but I'm still not fully convinced either way. Obviously there's no guarantee of a good job, but a big name on your diploma will undoubtedly make it easier to get those jobs, no? Especially if you major in something sensible, and take appropriate steps so that you get recruited as you leave university?

Comment by lincolnquirk on Leaps of faith in college selection · 2012-07-26T04:31:12.762Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Tomme, your priorities are probably wrong.

The greatest long-term value you get from college is probably the friends you make, followed by the name on the degree if it's a good school, followed by the stuff you learn. Do not underestimate the power of making good friends in college. Practically everything that I've done after graduation has been with friends I made in college. The best way to predictably make certain types of friends is by joining a residential living group with a culture based around the types of friends you want.

I would especially criticize filtering by "full-ride" scholarships on the following grounds: if you're smart and dedicated you can get a good job which will allow you to quickly pay back loans, and taking out loans will (usually) allow you to go to a better school (better social scene, better name, better things to learn) than you otherwise would.

Comment by lincolnquirk on [link] Prepared to wait? New research challenges the idea that we favour small rewards now over bigger later · 2012-07-20T12:26:27.656Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Hypothesis: perhaps "money" is not sufficient reward to trigger hyperbolic discounting. (The reason behind this could be that you have to buy the actual rewarding thing with your money. Money itself feels kind of abstract.) Most of the stuff I've read about hyperbolic discounting talk about it in the context of dopaminergic rewards.

Comment by lincolnquirk on Reply to Holden on The Singularity Institute · 2012-07-11T04:46:09.442Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

The plausible story in movement-building is not convincing existing AGI PIs to stop a long program of research, but instead convincing younger people who would otherwise eventually become AGI researchers to do something safer. The evidence to look for would be people who said "well, I was going to do AI research but instead I decided to get involved with SingInst type goals" -- and I suspect someone who knows the community better might be able to cite quite a few people for whom this is true, though I don't have any names myself.

Comment by lincolnquirk on Less Wrong Product & Service Recommendations · 2012-07-08T01:22:51.945Z · score: 13 (13 votes) · LW · GW

With a smartphone, I can:

  • Find restaurants and bars while out, of a much higher quality as compared to walking into random places
  • Discover what my friends are up to, without having to rely on them texting/calling me - Foursquare, Find My Friends, Facebook, Twitter.
  • Not write down addresses or directions
  • Not be bored while waiting for things
  • Not forget appointments
  • Never worry about getting lost
  • Read news / articles I wouldn't otherwise read (e.g., while on the toilet)
  • Take photos I wouldn't otherwise take (which create social experiences I wouldn't otherwise have) and get geotags/dates with those photos
  • Show off my photos to people while I'm out
  • Write things down when I don't have a notebook (and get geotags/dates with those notes using Evernote)
  • Take voice memos (and get geotags/dates with those memos)
  • Read urgent emails I would have missed until I got back to my desk
  • Listen to music at the gym
  • Pay with Square (an awesome experience. if you have an iPhone and live in San Francisco, go to Sightglass and do it once. It feels like the future.)
  • Reference Wikipedia and do Google searches in social contexts
  • Get alerted when people mention me or my business on Twitter
  • Check the stock market
  • Reserve a Zipcar at a moment's notice while out
  • Track my workouts at the gym (Fitocracy)
  • When I see a nice house in Palo Alto, look it up on Zillow to see the exorbitant price people are paying. (Also creates fun social experiences.)
  • Order and pay for food delivery (Seamless)
  • Order and pay for a taxi (Uber)
  • Reference subway maps (Embark)
  • Dropbox in my pocket. Awesome.
  • A level. That's right. I can level my wall hangings without needing to purchase an actual level.

I'm sure I've missed some stuff. But all these things have improved my life, some in small ways, others in rather significant ways.

FWIW, I've heard many people give your justification for not having a smartphone. Of those who eventually caved, every one (4 or 5 people) said something like "holy shit, why didn't I get this a long time ago?"