## Posts

Tracey Davis and the Prisoner of Azkaban - Part 6 2021-06-23T05:14:52.235Z
Four Components of Audacity 2021-06-21T04:49:06.968Z
Tracey Davis and the Prisoner of Azkaban - Part 5 2021-06-17T10:01:10.370Z
Tracey Davis and the Prisoner of Azkaban - Part 4 2021-06-17T08:57:20.061Z
Tracey Davis and the Prisoner of Azkaban - Part 3 2021-06-11T01:45:36.816Z
Bayeswatch 6: Mechwarrior 2021-06-07T20:20:20.196Z
[Book Review] Blueprint for Revolution 2021-06-07T18:14:00.602Z
Tracey Davis and the Prisoner of Azkaban - Part 2 2021-06-07T06:26:31.879Z
Tracey Davis and the Prisoner of Azkaban - Part 1 2021-06-04T09:57:20.838Z
Seattle Robot Cult 2021-05-29T23:54:10.125Z
[Prediction] What war between the USA and China would look like in 2050 2021-05-26T06:24:36.353Z
Bayeswatch 5: Hivemind 2021-05-21T07:35:43.069Z
Re: Fierce Nerds 2021-05-19T20:18:06.035Z
Bayeswatch 4: Mousetrap 2021-05-19T03:17:41.423Z
How to compute the probability you are flipping a trick coin 2021-05-15T00:02:55.476Z
Deliberately Vague Language is Bullshit 2021-05-14T09:17:23.640Z
Zvi's Law of No Evidence 2021-05-14T07:27:51.474Z
Hypothesis Space Entropy 2021-05-14T07:21:21.349Z
The Nuclear Energy Alignment Problem 2021-05-09T03:50:32.726Z
[Writing Exercise] A Guide 2021-05-08T00:22:29.808Z
Why quantitative finance is so hard 2021-05-07T19:29:41.933Z
Bayeswatch 3: A Study in Scarlet 2021-05-07T05:29:50.834Z
Bayeswatch 2: Puppy Muffins 2021-05-05T05:42:47.279Z
Bayeswatch 1: Jewish Space Laser 2021-05-03T20:15:44.106Z
[Letter] Re: Advice for High School 2021-04-30T08:42:34.511Z
[Letter] Advice for High School 2021-04-20T04:09:16.606Z
Anger 2021-04-18T16:14:08.309Z
Place-Based Programming - Part 2 - Functions 2021-04-16T00:25:27.515Z
Hell is wasted on the evil 2021-04-15T08:52:01.466Z
Place-Based Programming - Part 1 - Places 2021-04-14T22:18:15.184Z
I Trained a Neural Network to Play Helltaker 2021-04-07T08:24:27.982Z
Vim 2021-04-07T06:35:59.268Z
Predictive Coding has been Unified with Backpropagation 2021-04-02T21:42:12.937Z
[Book Review] Destiny Disrupted 2021-03-21T07:09:51.734Z
Conversation Exchange Statistics 2021-03-16T08:50:03.393Z
Clubhouse 2021-03-15T03:38:24.550Z
Blue is Arbitrary 2021-03-14T09:04:30.058Z
How I come up with ideas 2021-03-12T09:01:31.916Z
[Prediction] The Consequences of Radical Reform 2021-03-09T23:05:07.747Z
The Flexibility of Abstract Concepts 2021-03-02T06:43:21.170Z
Economic Class 2021-03-02T01:58:27.070Z
We should not raise awareness 2021-03-01T08:46:47.209Z
Media Bias 2021-02-22T21:14:59.529Z
Science Fiction 2021-02-22T09:35:16.361Z
The Kelly Criterion in 3D 2021-02-20T08:21:09.577Z
Chinese History 2021-02-15T06:43:45.708Z
The Median is Less than the Average 2021-02-15T02:28:39.788Z
This is my 100ᵗʰ post on Less Wrong 2021-02-14T03:11:44.055Z

Comment by lsusr on Tracey Davis and the Prisoner of Azkaban - Part 6 · 2021-06-23T22:55:25.519Z · LW · GW

Fixed. Thanks.

Comment by lsusr on Tracey Davis and the Prisoner of Azkaban - Part 6 · 2021-06-23T13:46:33.106Z · LW · GW

Tank you for the corrections. I fixed the typos.

Comment by lsusr on 4 Kinds of Learning · 2021-06-19T20:18:51.304Z · LW · GW

You didn't miss anything. There is no material about lucid dreaming on my blog.

Lucid dreaming isn't complicated. More reading probably will not help you. There are no magic bullets. If you want it to work you should do exactly what they say. If you're not doing exactly what they say then that's probably your problem. You should at an absolute minimum fill out your dream diary every single day with as much as you can remember.

Comment by lsusr on The Apprentice Thread · 2021-06-18T17:12:58.556Z · LW · GW

My proposal isn't about increasing rationality. It's about willpower, self-control and initiative. I propose a four-phase system.

1. Remove external influences of centralized media. I mean junk like news, television and videogames. Family and good friends are fine.
2. Physical health.
3. Deconditioning fear, mostly social.
4. Independent projects.
Comment by lsusr on Tracey Davis and the Prisoner of Azkaban - Part 1 · 2021-06-18T01:21:05.983Z · LW · GW

In theory, yes. In practice, copyrights keep getting extended.

Comment by lsusr on Tracey Davis and the Prisoner of Azkaban - Part 2 · 2021-06-18T01:20:18.294Z · LW · GW

This story is a sequel to Luna Lovegood and the Chamber of Secrets. It takes place the school year after Luna Lovegood and the Chamber of Secrets which itself takes place one school years after Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality. Thus, this story takes place two school years after HPMOR.

Comment by lsusr on Tracey Davis and the Prisoner of Azkaban - Part 5 · 2021-06-17T21:51:24.545Z · LW · GW

The story is still chronological.

Comment by lsusr on Viliam's Shortform · 2021-06-17T19:48:47.225Z · LW · GW

I'd like a page like this just so I can learn about IQ without having to dig through lots of research myself.

Comment by lsusr on The Apprentice Thread · 2021-06-17T18:11:14.102Z · LW · GW

[NORMAL] What an opportunity! Kudos to Zvi for lowering the activation energy by creating this thread. You win this week's Catalyst Prize.

Here is a link to the Don't Worry About the Vase sister post for those who don't have it.

[APPRENTICE] Quantitative finance. My goal is to eventually start my own hedge fund. I have experience in mathematical modeling and I have hand-coded my own small data machine learning algorithms, but I haven't applied these skills to a financial context yet. I want to learn more about this industry but I don't want to move to New York or commit myself to working 9-5 for someone else.

[MENTOR] Writing. I am good at writing nonfiction. I got linkposted by Scott Alexander. I even helped write advertising copy that got my startup on international news. I'm not willing to be your editor (for free) but I am willing to be my editor. There are many things I want to write but don't have the time to write myself, like a sequence on Adversarial Learning Environments. My offer: I help you learn to write better on the condition you write about my ideas on the topic of my choice and then we both get our names on the post. Prerequisites: [1] Basic competence at writing. [2] The skill of translating ideas into words (legible thinking).

[MENTOR] Programming. I am a self-taught software engineer. Proper guidance could have saved me years. Prerequisites: You must be very smart and self-motivated. You must learn fast and work faster. I expect you can read an entire technical book of this difficulty in a week. What I get: software development. What you get: education, experience and a portfolio.

[MENTOR] Agency. People routinely comment on my agency and their own lack thereof. If you want someone to help guide you through savage trials of pure will then I'm your guy. My expectations of you are extra high on this one. [See below.] If you fail to complete a single assignment on time then we're done. What you get: A life of your own. What I get: This is an experiment. I'm curious to what extent agency can be learned.

[MENTORSHIP EXPECTATIONS] Free mentorship offers tend to attract flakes so if you show up one minute late to a meeting then we're done. If I message you and you do not reply in a reasonable timeframe then we're done. I'm not going to be your therapist. Expect something more along the lines of a drill sergeant.

[CONSPIRACY] I believe we might be in an AI overhang and that AI alignment depends on winning the race to an AGI. Still figuring out the details on this one since it's a jungle of secrets and infohazards. More information is available here.

You can contact me via Less Wrong private message or by sending me an email.

Comment by lsusr on Tracey Davis and the Prisoner of Azkaban - Part 5 · 2021-06-17T16:23:41.577Z · LW · GW

Fixed. Thanks.

Comment by lsusr on Tracey Davis and the Prisoner of Azkaban - Part 4 · 2021-06-17T16:22:52.047Z · LW · GW

Fixed. Thanks.

Comment by lsusr on Would you like me to debug your math? · 2021-06-15T20:26:00.688Z · LW · GW

I had a similar experience. Gurkenglas is legit.

Comment by lsusr on Bayeswatch 3: A Study in Scarlet · 2021-06-12T21:22:32.038Z · LW · GW

Fixed. Thanks.

Comment by lsusr on Self-study ideas for micro-projects in "abstract" subjects? · 2021-06-12T03:52:26.013Z · LW · GW

CH₂N₂ [a gas] may explode in contact with sharp edges, such as ground-glass joints, even scratches in glassware.

Wow.

Comment by lsusr on Tracey Davis and the Prisoner of Azkaban - Part 3 · 2021-06-11T08:48:32.450Z · LW · GW

Fixed. Thanks. An invisibility clock measures how long it has been since someone else has noticed you.

Comment by lsusr on Reward large contributions? · 2021-06-11T01:10:39.833Z · LW · GW

Thank you for the kind offer. In my head, the 2021 Darwin Game (in particular) was a gift to the community. If I do something in the future which requires even more work I'll set up a Venmo link or something.

Comment by lsusr on Covid 6/10: Somebody Else’s Problem · 2021-06-10T17:50:54.189Z · LW · GW

India peaked substantially lower than North America or the European Union, and was barely higher than South America at the time. Yet it quickly reversed its trend, which I completely did not expect. If you think you could have predicted most or all of those last two graphs, I don’t believe you. If you can explain most of it in hindsight, that’s still a super hard problem.

I am on record getting India wrong by underestimating the power of the control system.

I am also on record as dismissing the lab leak hypothesis as ignorably unlikely[1]. I wasn't familiar with the term "Gain of Function" research at the time. I assumed (without thinking about it much) that the only people who would deliberately engineer a pandemic would be secret military weapons researchers. The idea that someone might engineer a pandemic overtly with peaceful intentions never crossed my mind.

1. My internal logic was actually more of a motte-and-bailey. I felt since laboratories were using the same disease present in the wild that there would be little difference between the lab strain and the wild strain. Thus, all that really mattered was how much laboratory research increased human exposure, which I estimated to be small relative to the natural exposure because virologists are a small fraction of the population. ↩︎

Comment by lsusr on Seattle Robot Cult · 2021-06-10T17:03:16.851Z · LW · GW

Depends on what you mean by "actually happen". I showed up but nobody else did. Also, the weather was awful. I discovered shortly after scheduling this event that a much more comfortable rationality group with a long history resumed its meetings the same week. I'm going there for my rationality fix and to MeetUp.com for hiking.

Comment by lsusr on [Book Review] Blueprint for Revolution · 2021-06-08T16:34:17.380Z · LW · GW

Srđa Popović's book is built around the idea that peoples can and should decide their own fate. He doesn't have much to say about NATO except that he didn't like it when NATO bombing his country because it killed people and increased support for the regime.

Funding resistance organizations has an entirely separate problem where it makes the resistance groups look like foreign stooges. Srđa Popović trains resistance organizations worldwide. After his group finishes training people, they shift to a deliberately hands-off approach because they want local movements to be genuinely local.

Comment by lsusr on Open and Welcome Thread – June 2021 · 2021-06-08T16:17:38.814Z · LW · GW

I am curious too how this will play out. Lingua francas tend to be sticky, but they also tend to follow the world's dominant power.

Comment by lsusr on Open and Welcome Thread – June 2021 · 2021-06-08T16:16:12.988Z · LW · GW

Historically, yes, it has been hard to figure out how to pronunciation scientific neologisms in Chinese. (The Periodic Tables of the Elements is especially full of unique characters.) These days, I don't think that is much of an issue. If you coin a new term from commonly-used characters then its pronunciation tends to be obvious. For example, 高能加速器 (high-energy particle accelerator) is composed entirely of well-known characters with single pronunciations.

Comment by lsusr on [Book Review] Blueprint for Revolution · 2021-06-08T15:50:24.432Z · LW · GW

In Blueprint for Revolution, the Serbian author complains about NATO intervention in Serbia because violent outside intervention rallied people toward the local strongman (and because American bombers almost killed his noncombatant mother).

Comment by lsusr on Choosing Beggars's Shortform · 2021-06-08T06:02:42.456Z · LW · GW

This forum has an exceptionally high standard of dialogue. Even college-educated fluent English speakers are often intimidated by it.

Comment by lsusr on Rob B's Shortform Feed · 2021-06-08T05:57:04.904Z · LW · GW

While your comment was clearly written in good faith, it seems to me like you're missing some context. You recommend that EY recommend that the detractors read books. EY doesn't just recommend people read books. He wrote the equivalent of like three books on the subjects relevant to this conversation in particular which he gives away for free. Also, most of the people in this conversation are already big into reading books.

It is my impression he also helped establish the Center for Applied Rationality, which has the explicit mission of training skills. (I'm not sure if he technically did but he was part of the community which did and he helped promote it in its early days.)

Comment by lsusr on Bayeswatch 6: Mechwarrior · 2021-06-07T23:08:02.012Z · LW · GW

Comment by lsusr on Bayeswatch 6: Mechwarrior · 2021-06-07T21:02:54.459Z · LW · GW

Fixed. Thanks.

Comment by lsusr on lsusr's Shortform · 2021-06-07T18:39:09.474Z · LW · GW

Now me, you know, I really am an iconoclast. Everyone thinks they are, but with me it’s true, you see…

Lonely Dissent by Eliezer Yudkowsky

…because I used to work as a street magician.

Comment by lsusr on Tracey Davis and the Prisoner of Azkaban - Part 2 · 2021-06-07T15:57:15.417Z · LW · GW

Part 2 takes place after Part 1.

Comment by lsusr on Open and Welcome Thread – June 2021 · 2021-06-07T00:23:23.288Z · LW · GW

I have undergraduate degrees in physics and mathematics. I taught myself business, entrepreneurship, computer science, machine learning, web development and Chinese. I have run my own consumer hardware startup.

The Chinese word for kinetochore is 动粒. If you go to the English Wikipedia page on kinetochores it's all in English. If you go to the Chinese Baidupedia page on 动粒 the first sentence lists the English word "kinetochore". That's because English is the lingua franca of science.

Learning Chinese because you love China and Chinese culture is a stupendous idea. Learning Chinese because you want to break out of your Western cultural assumptions is a great idea. Learning Chinese because China is the center of the world is perfectly reasonable. Learning Chinese because you want to advance your scientific career is inefficient.

Learning Chinese is harder than learning chemistry. It is harder than learning business and entrepreneurship. Learning Chinese has a difficulty comparable to maybe 4 years of full-time technical training in physics. That's twice as long as a Master's Degree in computer science. If you're already planning to get a graduate degree in molecular biology then learning Chinese too basically amounts to doubling your workload. You could get bigger bang for your buck teaching yourself to program.

I expect that the biggest use of Chinese would be if you wanted to do business in China or with Chinese companies. If you want to do this then learning even a little Chinese is a really good idea (though somehow not mandatory). If you are not interested in either of these things then Chinese is unlikely to help you (directly) in career success.

Learning Chinese should be thought of as part of a liberal education. You should learn Chinese for the same reason you should learn about fiction, art, history, physics, anthropology, math and psychology—because it broadens your understanding of the world. This sort of thing is very useful, but it can be hard to pin down exactly how it's useful.

If you're willing to throw years of effort into something with no (immediate) career payoff then yeah, you should learn Chinese. But you should not learn Chinese (just) so you can read biology papers written in Chinese.

Comment by lsusr on Tracey Davis and the Prisoner of Azkaban - Part 1 · 2021-06-04T18:50:28.778Z · LW · GW

Fixed. Thanks.

Comment by lsusr on [Prediction] What war between the USA and China would look like in 2050 · 2021-05-29T01:38:15.907Z · LW · GW

I would love to read a similar analysis of China's relationship to India. Unfortunately, I don't know anywhere near enough about India to write about the relationship between India and China.

Comment by lsusr on [Prediction] What war between the USA and China would look like in 2050 · 2021-05-27T17:31:28.837Z · LW · GW

I think we're looking at a game of chicken. I don't think war between China and the US would be worthwhile for either side unless the opposing side folds. That might happen if the US population becomes much more isolationist. Such a shift could happen fast, slow or not at all.

I'm considering China's actions towards the Uighurs and Tibet to not qualify as "expansionism" in this context because Xinjiang has been part of the PRC since 1949 and Tibet has been part of the PRC since 1951. Not only is this nearly the entire history of the PRC, they were even controlled by the Qing Dynasty. Geopolitically, Tibet and Xinjiang are Chinese territory.

It might be worthwhile for China to conquer Korea, and you make a good point about how China would have an easier time invading South Korea than Taiwan. I don't think this will be an issue by 2050 unless China becomes much more expansionist. Taiwan is a higher priority for them. If China invaded Korea it would probably just be a side effect of a broader war against the United States and its allies.

Comment by lsusr on [Prediction] What war between the USA and China would look like in 2050 · 2021-05-26T18:58:36.425Z · LW · GW

Yes to all.

I have so far resisted thinking in terms of "I think it will come down to a cyber race to see who has better zero-days" because my heuristic for this sort of thing is that programmers tend to overestimate our own importance. But then I think about WWI where technological advances were vastly underestimated by the military establishment on the Western Front. It could go either way.

Comment by lsusr on [Prediction] What war between the USA and China would look like in 2050 · 2021-05-26T18:32:46.058Z · LW · GW

Indefinitely, I think. Nations don't tend to surrender sovereignty just because they're being blockaded.

Comment by lsusr on [Prediction] What war between the USA and China would look like in 2050 · 2021-05-26T18:29:18.887Z · LW · GW

I commend you for giving a fair shake to both sides of the issue. There are two big questions at play: How easy it is to find warships and how hard it is to defend against incoming missiles.

# Detecting Warships

Bean's original analysis seems to revolve around surface-based and air-based radar. The price of space travel is going down. I take it for granted we will have many optical cameras in orbit (or, in case satellites are destroyed en masse, then via drones). It might be possible to hide temporarily under a cloud, but once weather changes your ships are visible to anyone with a big space program.

# Shooting Down Missiles

In plain English, the missile can’t tell the carrier from a destroyer with a blip enhancer or a merchantman.

Bean's original analysis seems bearish on today's missile guidance and targeting systems. I think that they are getting better quickly alongside space travel and machine learning. It may be true today that a missile can't tell warships apart but I would be surprised if that were still for the most advanced anti-ship ballistic missiles in 2050.

My post is premised on the idea that even if you could shoot down an incoming swarm of missile it would cost far more than the price of the missiles. I could be wrong because my analysis only accounts for interceptor missiles. There are a variety of non-missile defenses to consider.

But there are other defenses besides missiles. There’s also electronic warfare to consider. This is a fantastically complicated topic, and we can’t know the answer without an actual war…

This is a big question mark because the most advanced missile defense systems of today haven't been battle-tested against the most advanced anti-ship ballistic missiles.

Comment by lsusr on [Prediction] What war between the USA and China would look like in 2050 · 2021-05-26T17:49:52.301Z · LW · GW

This is a complicated question. It has as much to do with history and nationalism as with realpolitik.

China would get much of what it wants by taking control of the airspace and shipping lanes around Taiwan. Control of the airspace and shipping lanes around Taiwan is a lot easier when you have bases on Taiwan.

But there's more to it than that. China is a nation-state. Nation-states consider their territory and people to be semi-sacred. When Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands, Britain didn't defend them because they were important. Britain defended them because they were British. Similarly, China considers Taiwan to be part of China.

In a perfect world (for the People's Republic of China), China would assimilate the Taiwanese people into the Chinese nation-state.

Comment by lsusr on [Prediction] What war between the USA and China would look like in 2050 · 2021-05-26T17:41:43.880Z · LW · GW

China's secondary objective is to secure resources and trade routes, even if that means breaking the LWO.

Comment by lsusr on [Prediction] What war between the USA and China would look like in 2050 · 2021-05-26T17:40:22.229Z · LW · GW

You have several good points here. I think the most important one is that shorter distances makes missiles harder to shoot down.

The 90%-95% number does not include rockets which fell short and landed in Gaza. The 95% number comes from the Israeli armed forces (the 90% came from the Associated Press) so I expect it to make them look as good as possible which means the remaining 5% probably weren't aimed at unoccupied areas.

According to this article the cost of an Israeli interceptor missile is $40,000-$50,000. So even if they shoot down 100% of incoming missiles it still costs 50× more to shoot down a missile than to fire one. On the one hand, the attack missiles in question are unusually cheap. On the other hand, more expensive missiles are probably harder to shoot down. On the other other hand, much of that money goes things other than defense.

Tanner Greer has better analyses of Taiwan's defensive capabilities than I can write. My guess is there are many reasons you wouldn't want to train your population in guerrilla warfare. For starters, it basically amounts to training terrorists in your own country.

Comment by lsusr on Is nuclear war indeed unlikely? · 2021-05-25T23:54:11.330Z · LW · GW

If Plutonia detonates its weapons outside its own territory offensively then the target is either nuclear-armed or non-nuclear armed.

• If the target is nuclear-armed then the target state can be expected to retaliate with overwhelming force, thus removing the Plutonian government from power.
• If the target is not nuclear-armed then nuclear armed states may or may not retaliate with overwhelming force. Exactly what happens here depends on what country Plutonia really is[1], who the target of the nuclear strike is and other geopolitical conditions.

Either way, the danger Plutonia poses to the rest of the world is eliminated before things can snowball.

1. How the world would respond to a nuclear first strike by Russia is very different from a nuclear first strike by North Korea is very different from a nuclear first strike by Iran. ↩︎

Comment by lsusr on Is there a term for 'the mistake of making a decision based on averages when you could cherry picked instead'? · 2021-05-25T21:12:26.309Z · LW · GW

Paul Graham's article Beating the Averages comes to mind.

Comment by lsusr on lsusr's Shortform · 2021-05-25T04:33:16.771Z · LW · GW

There is a bicycle rack in my local park which hasn't been bolted down. It would take some work to steal the rack. Suppose that after factoring personal legal risk the effort to steal the rack equals $1,000. Crypto prediction markets let you gamble on anything which is public knowledge. Whether the bicycle rack has been stolen is public knowledge. Suppose a "rack stolen" credit pays out$1 if the rack is stolen on a particular day and a "rack not stolen" credit pays out $1 if the rack was not stolen on a particular day. Suppose that in the absence of prediction markets, the default probability of someone stealing the bicycle rack on any given day is 0.01. The "rack stolen" credit ought to be worth$0.01 and the "rack not stolen" credit ought to be worth $0.99. If the total value of tradable credits is less than$1,000 then everything works fine. What happens if there is a lot of money at stake? If there are more than 1,010 "rack stolen" credits available at a price of $0.01 then you could buy all the "rack stolen" credits for$0.01 and then steal the rack yourself for \$1,000.

What's funny about this is we're not dealing with a deliberate market for crime like an assassination market. Nobody has an intrinsic interest in the bicycle rack getting stolen. It's just a side effect of market forces.

Comment by lsusr on Book review: Subtract: The Untapped Science of Less · 2021-05-24T22:40:45.722Z · LW · GW

Your comment makes sense. I think the problem goes even deeper.

Many nonfiction books project all of human experience onto a single axis and then ramble about that axis. In this case, the axis is "more" vs "less". If you don't understand what "more" and "less" are then this can be educational. But if you do know what "more" and "less" are then the important thing to understand is when should you apply this axis and when shouldn't you. It is one half of a bravery debate.

Bravery debates are more about the listener than the facts. Whether you should subtract from your life depends on who you are.

He inhabited a sparse, unheated cell, its concrete walls radiating the late-fall chill. A wooden-plank tucket served as both bed and day couch, with a small stand alongside for perching texts to read—and little else. As befits a monk, the room was empty of any private belongings.

From the early-morning hours until late into the night, Khunu Lama would sit on that bed, a text always open in front of him. Whenever a visitor would pop in—and in the Tibetan world that could be at just about any time—he would invariably welcome them with a kindly gaze and warm words.

Khunu's qualities—a loving attention to whoever came to see him—struck Dan as quite unlike, and far more positive than, the personality traits he had been studying for his degree in clinical psychology at Harvard. That training focused on negatives: neurotic patterns, overpowering burdensome feelings, and outright psychopathology.

Khunu, on the other hand, quietly exuded the better side of human nature. His humility, for instance, was fabled. The story goes that the abbot of the monastery, in recognition of Khunu's spiritual status, offered him as living quarters a suite of rooms on the monastery's top floor, with a monk to serve as an attendant. Khunu declined, preferring the simplicity of his small, bare monk's cell.

Altered Traits by Daniel Goleman and Richard J. Davidson

I don't think Khunu needs to read about how he should subtract from his life.

The problem with Subtract is that the truth-value of its thesis depends on who is reading it. I prefer to read books with observer-independent (i.e. objective) truth values.

Comment by lsusr on Don't feel bad about not knowing basic things · 2021-05-24T02:18:50.925Z · LW · GW

I don't know the Chinese word for spatula, the chemical formula for sucrose or what % does in Vim. Last month a friend showed me a second set of adjuster screws on my bicycle breakpads I had never used before. I sleep just fine at night.

Comment by lsusr on Is nuclear war indeed unlikely? · 2021-05-24T00:00:57.706Z · LW · GW

Because the economy is shrinking and modern technologies are not coming from the world outside Plutonia, the conventional Plutonian army is unable to win the real war. Thus, in all "gray zone" conflicts, where Plutonia used to won, now the Plutonian neighbors may try to get their territories back. The only way to not lose is to use (limitedly) nuclear weapons.

Does Plutonia use the weapons within its sovereign territory against its own people or outside its own territory against an enemy state? When you say "use" do you mean actually detonating them or just threatening to do so?

Comment by lsusr on Book review: Subtract: The Untapped Science of Less · 2021-05-23T23:42:24.525Z · LW · GW

The primary objective of every organization is to perpetuate itself.

Evolution is the opposite. It defaults toward subtraction because random mutation biases change in favor of the removal of genes. (Note: Life has evolved many ways to minimize genetic drift towards noise. Genetic repair can only slow this effect. Life has not fully overcome entropy.)

I first realized the worthlessness of stuff when I lived in Italy for a year. All I took with me was one large backpack of stuff. The rest of my stuff I left in my landlady's attic back in the US. And you know what? All I missed were some of the books. By the end of the year I couldn't even remember what else I had stored in that attic.

Stuff by Paul Graham

I wonder how much the author's thesis applies to hunter-gatherers like the !Kung who have to carry everything on their backs? I guess a tendency toward "more" wouldn't hurt them much because their way of life places a hard limit on what they can amass. The analogy to overeating applies.

These people live below Dunbar's number, so there is no need to amass wealth to impress strangers. What does matter is impressing people in your community by amassing personal connections. Therefore the tendency is to give away conspicuous material wealth rather than amassing it for onesself.

The idea that stockpiling is an instinct makes sense. Lots of rodents do it.

As a side note (from me, not Klotz), this has reversed to some extent in the modern world. Just as thinness is high-status in a world of abundant calories even for the poor, the minimalist aesthetic exemplified by Marie Kondo et al is high-status in a world where even relatively poor people (in the developed world, at least) can accumulate lots of material goods.

Yes, though I wonder how much is hipstering. It's not like the royal family of Qatar is living a minimalist lifestyle. Then again, in The Promised Land, Barack Obama write about how his greatest personal fantasy is to walk down the street without a convoy.

Even when removing a word or section objectively improves some text, readers usually don’t know that a section was removed.

People don't notice the removal of a single thing but people do notice the collective effect of many removals. One of my favorite things about Less Wrong is how clean Oliver keeps it. He doesn't even allow underlines in posts.

# Analysis: the review part

By your description, it feels like the kind of book where an author picks a word and then rambles about it like an impromptu speaker. If this had an extraordinary thesis requiring extraordinary evidence like Manufacturing Consent then lots of anecdotes would make sense. But the thesis seems too vague to be extraordinary.

I get the impression of the kind of book which where a dense blogpost is stretched out to the length of a book. This is ironic for a book about subtraction.

It seems to me like this book would be worth reading iff you want gentle nudges toward removing things from your life.

If Klotz wanted to rewrite each chapter to argue the opposite of what it does, I think he’d be able to.

Yes.

Comment by lsusr on [Letter] Advice for High School · 2021-05-22T16:32:51.274Z · LW · GW

Everybody?

Vim keybindings (whether you're using Vim, emacs, whatever) are faster than standard keybindings. If a lot of your time is spent editing code or writing then even a small pays off a lot over the decades. That alone is sufficient reason to learn Vim.

Perhaps more importantly, faster edits gives me a faster iteration time. I suspect this increases my effective working memory since there is less time between edits for me to forget things. There is evidence working memory and -factor are closely related, perhaps even the same thing. General intelligence is extremely important to writing advanced software. Anything which can give you a similar edge ought to be extremely valuable.

Comment by lsusr on Bayeswatch 5: Hivemind · 2021-05-22T06:21:26.142Z · LW · GW

As I understood, her keeping 1/6 of her personality was not a technological limitation but a part of the contract. Since they broke the contract, I assume they erased however much they wanted, possibly all.

Yes. This is exactly correct. If we are to split hairs, Trinity keeping 1/6 of her personality was an unwritten fact the contract took for granted to be true. Trinity keeping 1/6 of her personality used to be a technological limitation. At the time this story takes place, it is no longer a hard technical limitation. The state's regulatory system has failed to keep pace with technological advance.

Also, the 'they' is another assumption that comes from their discussion only. For all we know, 'they' is a single mind puppeteering all the other bodies.

Yes. Muddying the waters even further, the use of the word "they" is a culturally-dependent term with political implications. The meaning of pronouns changes when you start hooking people together into hiveminds.

And since this series is about AGIs gone rogue, I assumed it likely that the puppet master was a rogue AI, or a human agent/associate of one.

No comment. 🙂🤖

Comment by lsusr on The Web is Turning into Cable TV · 2021-05-22T01:04:16.420Z · LW · GW

It looks like FLoC is an alternative to third-party cookies, which Alphabet plans to discontinue in Google Chrome next year.

Microsoft is so far not following along in Edge, which makes sense because Microsoft is not as dependent on advertising.

Comment by lsusr on The Argument For Spoilers · 2021-05-21T22:37:09.086Z · LW · GW

The more I learn about something the less I care about spoilers. Before I wrote fiction, spoilers bothered me a lot. Now they don't bother me at all. Efficiency outweighs not getting spoiled.

Your post reminds me of the Magicians' Code. The Magicians' Code is a double standard. Magicians usually refuse to reveal the secrets of a trick to the audience. However, we also usually reveal the secrets to fellow magicians upon request. Magicians can appreciate the un-spoiled experience after being spoiled in a way non-magicians usually cannot.