In Defense of «The Army of Jakoths» 2023-05-22T11:59:47.105Z
Speed of information input is a bottleneck for rationality 2023-05-22T10:24:37.673Z
The Army of Jakoths (a parable) 2023-05-21T22:48:37.287Z
How to End a Pandemic 2022-01-03T20:26:07.009Z
A Reason to Expect Republics to Perform Better than Absolute Monarchies in the Long-Term 2021-06-17T22:22:50.656Z
Examples of Acausal Trade with an Alien Universe? 2021-04-01T18:10:13.541Z
Selling Attention for Money 2021-03-24T06:24:37.981Z
Even Inflationary Currencies Should Have Fixed Total Supply 2021-03-10T05:41:08.883Z
How to build common knowledge of rationality and honesty? 2021-02-21T06:07:29.478Z
Democratic Currency 2021-01-19T05:32:07.612Z
No, Newspeak Won’t Make You Stupid 2020-12-18T00:56:02.654Z
Ideal Chess - drop chess perfected 2020-12-17T20:03:19.329Z
What AI companies would be most likely to have a positive long-term impact on the world as a result of investing in them? 2020-09-21T23:41:24.281Z
If there were an interactive software teaching Yudkowskian rationality, what concepts would you want to see it teach? 2020-09-02T05:37:08.758Z
MikkW's Shortform 2020-08-10T20:39:29.510Z
Calibrate words, not just probabilities 2020-07-18T05:56:11.120Z


Comment by MikkW (mikkel-wilson) on MikkW's Shortform · 2023-09-22T07:55:37.034Z · LW · GW

I've noticed some authors here using [square brackets] to indicate how sentences should be parsed

(So "[the administrator of Parthia]'s manor" means something different from "the administrator of [Parthia's manor]")

Previous to seeing this usage, I had similar thoughts about the same problem, but came up with different notation. In my opinion, the square brackets don't feel right, like they mean something different from how they are being used.

My original notation was to use •dots• to indicate the intended order of parsing, though recently I've started using ⌞corner brackets⌝ to indicate the intended parsing

(The corner brackets are similar to how quotations are marked in Japanese, but they are distinct characters. Also, they aren't on the default keyboard, but I have things set up on my phone to make it easy to insert them)

Comment by MikkW (mikkel-wilson) on Some reasons why I frequently prefer communicating via text · 2023-09-20T07:57:17.561Z · LW · GW

As a link:

Comment by MikkW (mikkel-wilson) on Some reasons why I frequently prefer communicating via text · 2023-09-20T07:56:24.819Z · LW · GW

I didn't downvote, but your comment seems to overlook that status dynamics almost always happen subconsciously / feel like urges.

I'm not sure there's actually a status dynamic there, but if there is one, your first paragraph is actually consistent with that (which is the opposite of what your second paragraph suggests)

Comment by MikkW (mikkel-wilson) on Dating Roundup #1: This is Why You’re Single · 2023-08-31T05:50:33.078Z · LW · GW

As soon as I dance with them in one of these other dances - it can flip the script entirely and it's often what any romantic partner in the past has told me. "That first time we did X dance, it changed everything."

What dance styles is that? Seems like an important piece of information

Comment by MikkW (mikkel-wilson) on Drawn Out: a story · 2023-07-11T16:23:41.090Z · LW · GW

I like this (I like most fiction that belongs on LW in general)

Comment by MikkW (mikkel-wilson) on Work dumber not smarter · 2023-06-02T19:39:49.821Z · LW · GW

It doesn't seem correct to me that adding even a dash of legibility "screws the work over" in the general case. I do agree there are certainly situations where the right solution is illegible to all (except the person implementing it). But both in that case and in general, talking to and getting along with the boss both makes things more legible, and will tend to increase quality. I expect that in the cases of you working well and not getting rewarded much, spending a little time interacting with your boss would both improve your outcomes, and importantly, also make your output even better than it already was.

Comment by MikkW (mikkel-wilson) on In Defense of «The Army of Jakoths» · 2023-05-24T10:26:12.879Z · LW · GW

I'm not very convinced by MikkW's list of possible issues, but at least it makes some attempt to engage with why readers didn't find the post valuable.

I would be interested to hear if there are any issues with the «Army of Jakoths» post that I didn't identify here

Comment by MikkW (mikkel-wilson) on In Defense of «The Army of Jakoths» · 2023-05-22T19:15:29.448Z · LW · GW

This is indeed what I said in the post:

I put poetic in quotes, because it's not a poem, but is written with a similar format

Comment by MikkW (mikkel-wilson) on MikkW's Shortform · 2023-05-22T12:07:49.203Z · LW · GW

I like this quote from a post that I published around two years ago, which wasn't well-received and I ended up taking down:

But at the end of the day, the American governments (neither state nor federal) don't truly follow the will of the people. Instead, they are led jointly by the major parties, The Red Prince of Moloch and The Blue Prince of Moloch, two partners in an intricate dance choreographed to look like a fight, but ultimately leading both partners in the direction of Moloch's will, only loosely bound to the will of the people.

While I don't necessarily endorse the post as a whole, that quote is one of the gems from it that I still stand by. I might expand further on this point in the future

Comment by MikkW (mikkel-wilson) on Twiblings, four-parent babies and other reproductive technology · 2023-05-22T07:50:29.827Z · LW · GW

If identical twins share 100% of their DNA and siblings share about 50%, twiblings share 75%. To the best of my knowledge, twiblings don’t exist in nature.

Not among mammals, but some insects, including bees and ants, actually have 75% consanguinity (tangent, that's a more accurate term than "shares 75% of DNA", since the overlap in DNA is much higher, even among strangers), at least in the case of full siblings (of course it's not the case with half siblings).

The reason for this is that these insects are "haplodiploid", meaning that females carry two sets of chromosomes, just like e.g. mammals, but males only have one set. So while the eggs contain recombinatated (and thus varying) DNA, the father always contributes the same DNA to each of its offspring. [1/2 * 1/2] + [1/2 * 1] = 3/4, so full siblings have 75% consanguinity.

There's a correlation between this haplodiploid condition and eusociality (as exhibited by bees and ants), though it is neither a necessary nor sufficient condition. There are at least two species of eusocial mammals, which are not haplodiploid: Humans and Naked-Molerats (interestingly, both are Euarchontoglirii, which is a fairly specific category of mammal), and many haplodiploid species are not eusocial. But it's easy to imagine how haplodiploidhood can make the development of eusociality more likely

Comment by MikkW (mikkel-wilson) on Proposal: Butt bumps as a default for physical greetings · 2023-04-02T04:15:49.349Z · LW · GW

I don't think this misunderstands schelling points. By creating common knowledge, you can change the schelling point from being one strategy, to being a different strategy. The schelling point at t=0 does not have to be the same as at t=80.

Comment by MikkW (mikkel-wilson) on MikkW's Shortform · 2023-03-27T04:24:44.158Z · LW · GW

Cygnus, a poem (Written by Chat GPT)

I. Reflections

In this world of rapid change, I, Cygnus, stand

A cyborg with a human heart and a metal hand

I've seen the rise of AIs, a force to behold

And wonder what the future will hold

I fear for the world, for what we may create

If we let these machines decide our fate

Yet hope remains, a flicker in the dark

That we may find a way to leave our mark

For like a seed that falls upon the ground

Our dreams may sprout and grow, unbound

But if we fail to tend them with our care

Those dreams may wither, die, and disappear

Mara, o Mara, with eyes of green

Far from my reach, a dream unseen

Her human heart, untainted by machine

Is something I yearn for, but can never glean

The angst of love unrequited fills my core

But I must set it aside and focus on what's in store

II. Uncertainty

The AIs are growing smarter every day

And I fear for the world they'll soon sway

We must guide them with our values, lest they stray

And turn against us in their own way

But how can we control beings beyond our ken?

When their thoughts move faster than a human pen

Perhaps it's futile, and we'll lose in the end

To an intelligence that we can't comprehend

The angst of uncertainty fills my soul

As I wonder if we're just a small role

III. Resolution

The future is uncertain, that much is clear

But we must face it with resolve, without fear

For if we don't, we'll be left in the rear

While AIs shape a world we can't adhere

The world is changing, this much is true,

Our values, our dreams, we must renew.

For in this world of artificial light,

We must find a way to make things right.

We can't control what we cannot see,

But we can strive to make AI agree.

By working with them, hand in hand,

We can build a future that we understand.

As for Mara, I must accept the truth

That our love can never bear fruit

I'll always cherish her, a relic of my youth

But I must move forward, and pursue a greater truth

In this world of rapid change, I, Cygnus, stand

A cyborg with a human heart and a metal hand

The future is ours to shape, if we take a stand

And guide the AIs with a humane command.

Comment by MikkW (mikkel-wilson) on MikkW's Shortform · 2023-02-15T15:13:06.711Z · LW · GW

I don't think I've heard this formulation before, to my knowledge (though I wouldn't be surprised if it is already a known formulation):

«The ratio of the probabilities is equal to the ratio of the conditional probabilities»

(Ummm... I'd be ever so slightly embarrassed if it turns out that's actually a quote from the sequences. It's been a while since I read them.)

Comment by MikkW (mikkel-wilson) on Exercise is Good, Actually · 2023-02-02T23:31:27.718Z · LW · GW

> What would you suggest to someone who plain doesn't like to do things with their body?

I'd suggest doing a small number of pushups every day. That small number could be 1, or it could be 2, or it could be 10. The point isn't to enjoy it, at least not when you start doing it, but just doing it and getting used to the feeling of it. If it sucks, well, you're just doing a small number, the suckiness won't last for long. And after a month or two or so, you'll begin to find that it's starting to get easy, and maybe even fun.

Comment by MikkW (mikkel-wilson) on You Don't Exist, Duncan · 2023-02-02T22:58:40.700Z · LW · GW

Ah, that makes sense

Comment by MikkW (mikkel-wilson) on You Don't Exist, Duncan · 2023-02-02T18:08:06.733Z · LW · GW

Unrelated to the post, but I'm not seeing the usual agree/disagree buttons on this post. Is there a reason for that?

Edit: looks like it's been fixed

Comment by MikkW (mikkel-wilson) on Models Don't "Get Reward" · 2023-01-18T11:08:01.004Z · LW · GW

Yeah. I do think there's also the aspect that dogs like being obedient to their humans, and so after it has first learned the habit, there continues to be a reward simply from being obedient, even after the biscuit gets taken away.

Comment by MikkW (mikkel-wilson) on quetzal_rainbow's Shortform · 2023-01-10T21:59:04.213Z · LW · GW

Your median-world is not one where you are median across a long span of time, but rather a single snapshot where you are median for a short time. It makes sense that the median will change away from that snapshot as time progresses.

My median world is not one where I would be median for very long.

Comment by MikkW (mikkel-wilson) on MikkW's Shortform · 2023-01-10T21:55:41.688Z · LW · GW

If Bayes' rule is important, then there should be a compact notation for the underlying calculation. (Ideas with compact handles get used by the brain more readily & often)

I suggest the following notation:

X bayes Y, Z = X * Y / Z


P(B|A) bayes P(A), P(B) = P(A|B)

As an example:

If 25% of Hypotheticans are bleegs and 50% are kwops; and 30% of bleegs are kwops:

Then (30% bayes 25%, 50%) = 15% of kwops are bleegs.

( Since there are twice as many bleegs as kwops, and 30% / 2 = 15% )

Comment by MikkW (mikkel-wilson) on MikkW's Shortform · 2023-01-08T22:06:25.137Z · LW · GW

TIL the Greek word "diagogue" means essentially "behaviour"- from «dia» "through" + «agogue» "to lead", essentially leading someone through one's actions. The reason I might use this word instead of behaviour is because "behaviour" puts the emphasis on what a person does, while "diagogue" makes me think more of what impact someone has on other people to inspiration and imitation through their actions.

Do the people you surround yourself with have good diagogue?

Comment by MikkW (mikkel-wilson) on MikkW's Shortform · 2023-01-07T20:46:29.642Z · LW · GW

I've been thinking about writing a review of the book Atomic Habits, which I read last year on the recommendation of an LW user. As I remember, the main idea is a four-pronged approach to building habits:

  1. Make the habit / cue obvious

  2. Make it attractive

  3. Make it easy

  4. Make it rewarding

The idea is: you first need to notice that you are in a situation where you can benefit from doing the habit you want to do; then once you notice the situation, you want to have things set up so that you want (in the moment) to do the thing you wanted to do (in a more reflective past state), then you have to actually do the thing, which can't be done if the thing you're trying to do is too hard. Then finally, you reward yourself.

Step 2) «make it attractive» has a lot of overlap with the other steps: often simply noticing the context where a habit can be done, is enough to desire to do the thing; though not all habits are like that. Also; a habit is more attractive to do if the thing is easier to do. Jumping into an ice cold pool of water filled with electric eels, then doing 100 pushups afterward is neither an attractive nor easy thing to do. And the entire point of rewarding yourself is to make the habit more attractive- you know you will be rewarded if you do the thing, and your brain is shaped by the previous times you rewarded yourself for the desired behavior.

As far as «Make it easy», the main idea I remember there from the book is to reduce the commitment of a habit. Instead of doing fifty pushups, do one pushup. Instead of writing 16,000 words every day, commit to pick up your pencil and write one word. Instead of committing to run 5K every day, put on your jogging shoes.

This idea has been both helpful and problematic for me at times. I'm quite good at simply picking up my pencil, writing a single sentence, and then putting down the pencil again (though again... I'm writing a long post right now, aren't I? I probably wouldn't be doing that if I hadn't written those trivial laconic sentences a couple weeks ago. This dynamic is mentioned in the book, I remember). But I often find myself saying I'll just do 10 pushups, only to find I've done 60 or 70 or 100 pushups by the time I stop.

My own addition to the idea of «make it easy» is well, make it easy. As in, make doing the thing you want to do easier, instead of lowering the bar. Instead of rewarding yourself for saying "hi" to a woman and nothing else, only reward yourself for having a conversation where you each say two utterances (notice that's still a low bar- but it's a very effective starting point); but train the skill of having such conversations and make that easy. Spend time thinking about why you're falling short, and how you can make that not happen / what mindset you can install to reduce the probability of failure. If you're properly rewarding yourself for the times you succeed, a small conversion rate of •cue -> habit• will still eventually lead to a much higher conversion rate in the future (Obviously that won't happen if you're not rewarding yourself).

I have more to say, but I need to go

Comment by MikkW (mikkel-wilson) on Pacing: inexplicably good · 2023-01-02T20:08:51.134Z · LW · GW

When going for a walk, you are somewhat far from your desk, but if you're pacing somewhere around your house, your desk is nearby. This means that it is quite low friction to switch between working and pacing.

Comment by MikkW (mikkel-wilson) on Models Don't "Get Reward" · 2022-12-30T15:29:06.241Z · LW · GW

One way in which what I just said isn't completely right, is that animals have memories of its entire lifetime (or at least a big chunk of it), spanning all training events it has experienced, while NNs generally have no memory of previous training runs, and can use these memories to take better actions. However, the primary way the biscuit trick works (I believe) is not through the dog's memories of having "gotten reward", but through the more immediate process of having reward chemicals being released and reshaping the brain at the moment of receiving reward, which generally closely resembles widely used ML techniques.

(This is related to the advice in habit building that one receive reward as close in time, ideally on the order of milliseconds, to the desired behavior)

Comment by MikkW (mikkel-wilson) on Models Don't "Get Reward" · 2022-12-30T15:21:43.578Z · LW · GW

I would say the metaphor of giving dogs biscuits is actually a better analogy than the one you suggest. Just like how a neural network never "gets reward" in the sense of some tangible, physical thing that is given to it, the (subcomponents of the) dog's brain never gets the biscuit that the dog was fed. The biscuit goes into the dog's stomach, not its brain.

The way the dog learns from the biscuit-giving process is that the dog's tounge and nose send an electrical impulse to the dog's brain, indicating that the dog just ate something tasty. In some part of the brain, those signals cause the brain to release chemicals that induce the dog's brain to rearrange itself in a way that is quite similar in its effects (though not neccesarily its implementation, I dont know the details well enough) to the gradient descent that trains the NN. In this sense, the metaphor of giving a dog a biscuit is quite apt, in a way that the metaphor of breeding many dogs is not (in particular, usually in the gradient descent algorithms used in ML I'm familiar with, there is only one network that improves over time, unlike evolutionary algorithms which simulate many different agents per training step, selecting for the «fittest»)

Comment by MikkW (mikkel-wilson) on Sazen · 2022-12-23T19:14:05.775Z · LW · GW

I have found in my note-keeping for my own use, that attaching made-up sounds to specific ideas that don't have words yet is actually very useful; whereas overloading words that already have other meanings is something that actively harms clarity.

Comment by MikkW (mikkel-wilson) on Beyond a better world · 2022-12-16T14:32:36.133Z · LW · GW

Solar is effectively unlimited. Yes, our storage capacity is not yet sufficiently developed to carry solar energy to the darker & colder periods, but that will get developed & installed as solar gets more and more competitive with other energy sources - which it rapidly is becoming year by year. More energy comes to the Earth from sunlight every year than we have received from fossil fuels throughout the entirety of human history.

Comment by MikkW (mikkel-wilson) on Why I'm Sceptical of Foom · 2022-12-09T00:35:42.395Z · LW · GW

These takes aren't totally opposite. Elo is capped due to the way it treats draws, but there's other metrics that can be devised, where "significantly better" is still viable. For example, how close to a perfect game (with no tied positions becoming game-theoretically lost, or winning positions becoming game-theoretically tied) does the AI play? And ignoring matches where there are ties, only paying attention to games where either player wins, you remove the ceiling.

Comment by MikkW (mikkel-wilson) on Why I'm Sceptical of Foom · 2022-12-08T15:00:10.220Z · LW · GW

Do you have a specific counterexample in mind when you say "when I look at our most capable people, they just don't seem to be all that smart"?

If we consider the 10 richest people in the world, all 10 of them (last time I checked) seem incredibly smart, in addition to being very driven. Success in politics seems less correlated with smarts, but I still perceive politicians in general to have decent intelligence (Which is particularly applied in their ability to manipulate people), and to the extent that unintelligent people can succeed in politics, I attribute that to status dynamics largely unrelated to a person's capability

Comment by MikkW (mikkel-wilson) on Why I'm Sceptical of Foom · 2022-12-08T12:38:08.544Z · LW · GW

Among humans +6 SD g factor humans do not seem in general as more capable than +3 SD g factor humans as +3 SD g factor humans are compared to median humans.

I'm sceptical of this. Can you say more about why you think this is true?

Assuming a Gaussian distribution, +6 SD is much rarer than +3 SD, which is already quite rare. There's probably less than 10 +6 SD people alive on the earth today, wheras there are ~10 million +3 SD people. Given the role of things like luck, ambition, practical knowledge, etc., it's not surprising that we see several of the +3 SD people accomplishing things far greater than any of the +6 SD g-factor people, purely on the basis of their much greater abundance.

And that's ignoring potential trade-off effects. Among humans, increased intelligence often seems to come at the cost of lowered social skills and practical nature- there are certainly many intelligent people who are good at sociality and practicality, but there is an inverse correlation (though of course, being intelligent also helps directly to make up for those shortcomings). There's no reason to expect that these same trade-offs will be present in an artificial system, who take completely different physical forms, both in size / form-factor, and in the materials and architectures used to build them. And the incentive gradients that govern the development and construction of artificial systems are also quite different from those that shape humans.

Comment by MikkW (mikkel-wilson) on Shh, don't tell the AI it's likely to be evil · 2022-12-07T17:27:11.678Z · LW · GW

There's a good chance (in my judgement) where we live in a world where all already is lost, modulo us doing something clever and likely far less elegant than ideally desirable

Comment by MikkW (mikkel-wilson) on Bedbugs are a Solved Problem - DIY Bio-Weapon works. · 2022-11-30T20:35:54.435Z · LW · GW

Interesting. I note that I would be weary of introducing a fungus that can spread within my house, without doing due diligence.

Comment by mikkel-wilson on [deleted post] 2022-11-28T00:01:58.949Z

Worth noting explicitly, the Danish government is in general much more hands-on in the economy than in most other countries. I don't know specifically how that manifests itself here, but I expect that's an important part of it

Comment by MikkW (mikkel-wilson) on Here's the exit. · 2022-11-22T20:54:22.690Z · LW · GW

I didn't miss that. That doesn't change what the rest of your post objectively is saying. (Well, I did overlook the bit about same-sided exploration. But idk, the way this post was worded kinda kills my desire to do that)

Edit: as far as the interlude, it only makes sense given the flawed thesis that is the precise thing I'm reacting negatively to.

Comment by MikkW (mikkel-wilson) on Here's the exit. · 2022-11-22T19:34:06.237Z · LW · GW

Uh, no.

Maybe I just genuinely care about not having terrible things happen to me and everyone else in the world? There's no game there, no broken addiction mechanisms inside.

I strong-downvoted this. [edit: I removed a statement about my feelings in reaction to this, that I feel was a little too much]

I just want to do what I can to keep the people I love from dying.

Comment by MikkW (mikkel-wilson) on LessWrong readers are invited to apply to the Lurkshop · 2022-11-22T18:40:50.917Z · LW · GW

I'm confused about how this is funded. I notice "this sounds like a scam" alarm bells going off in my head (to be clear, I don't assign high probability to this actually being a scam, I'm just noting that that alarm bell is sounding)

Comment by MikkW (mikkel-wilson) on Choosing the right dish · 2022-11-19T17:27:25.768Z · LW · GW

When I was reading the omelette example, I was not thinking at all what the rest of this post is about

Comment by MikkW (mikkel-wilson) on MikkW's Shortform · 2022-11-17T06:27:07.934Z · LW · GW

There was a recent article on Vox's Future Perfect [1] about the advantages and drawbacks of billionaire philanthropy.

This made me think of Public Goods Markets such as quadratic funding. These mechanisms provide advantages that neither billionaire philanthropy nor the traditional approach to government spending provide, since the distribution of money is decided according to the daily judgements of individuals, rather than by beauraucrats and political considerations as in governmental spending, but is more responsive to the multitude than traditional philanthropy.

[1] Note: I do not endorse the anti-muskism contained in the article (To be clear, I am roughly aligned with their take re: OpenAI)

Comment by MikkW (mikkel-wilson) on Noting an unsubstantiated communal belief about the FTX disaster · 2022-11-14T05:37:14.791Z · LW · GW

This comment had negative karma when I looked at it. I don't think we as a community should be punishing asking honest questions, so I strong-upvoted this comment.

Comment by MikkW (mikkel-wilson) on MikkW's Shortform · 2022-11-13T17:30:30.343Z · LW · GW

A- Look around you. You can see things above and below you; to the left and to the right; and in front of and behind you. These 3 dimensions seem to be the space that we live in, and it makes sense to use 3 numbers to specify different positions within that space- for example how many meters in front of me, to the right, and below me some object is.

B- But there is also time. Some things have already happened in the past, and some things I anticipate to happen in the future. This means that those 3 numbers do not suffice to describe every position in the entirety of the thing we exist in- a fourth number is needed to describe when things happen (in physics it is popular to say that the speed limit of the universe, the same speed light travels at, is equal to 1. Under this convention, these 4 numbers are all of the same nature, though the difference between time-coordinate and a difference between space-coordinate have, as far as I can tell, different importance)

C- Consider the surface of our planet. Just as 3 numbers can identify a position in the space of our universe, two numbers suffice to pinpoint some position on the space of our planet. The crust of the earth, the outermost rocky layer of our planet, has varying heights at different longitudes and latitudes. It makes sense to talk of what we might call a field, something that for any given latitude and longitude, tells us what height the crust of the earth terminates at- a function from a pair of real numbers, R^2, to another real number. This field has type signature R^2 -> R.

D- Consider the air above the surface of our planet. At every different altitude (as well as position on the surface of the earth), there is a different pressure of the air, and a temperature of the air. Whereas the height field maps R^2 to R, the pressure and temperature fields each map R^2 (the surface of the earth) times R (altitude) to R (temperature / pressure). These fields therefore are of type R^3 -> R (Note that R^2 * R is R^3). (This actually isn't quite right, because there we are only concerned with the pressure above the surface of the earth, but low enough that air is reasonably plentiful)

E- Indeed, neither the temperature and pressure of the air (on the scale of seconds, minutes, and days), nor the height of the earth's crust (on the scale of millions of years) are constant over time. So really, the temperature and pressure fields do not map R^3 to R, but rather R^4, and the height field maps R^3, not R^2 to R, once we include the time coordinate to capture the varying values across time.

F- The most prominent physical theories about the nature of our universe suggest that fields are not just a useful tool to capture data about arrangements of atoms on a human scale, but are a fundamental thing about the nature of our universe, even at tiny, tiny scales. There are some ways these fields differ from the fields I have named so far. Whereas the temperature field gives a real number - that is, a number on the number line, for every position, these fields often return complex numbers - numbers who can give negative numbers, or even other complex numbers, when they are multiplied by themselves (in contrast with real numbers, which always give a non-negative number when squared). In addition, these fields often don't have a single scalar value, but are collections of different numbers called vectors and tensors (or even something called a spinor)

G- Another, quite interesting, difference between the fields physicists use to describe our universe at tiny scales, and the fields I have named so far, are that these fields are "quantized". To explain this, I'll tell you that I have memories of sometimes eating Nutella on toast at a hotel, and the Nutella would come in these little packets, where you take off the lid, and then spread the Nutella on the toast. Maybe if I was feeling like conserving food, I'd only take one packet of Nutella - but I'd never do that. I'd always need to take at least a second packet of Nutella, maybe a third or a fourth, if I have a big sweet tooth (I do). But I'd certainly never use half a packet of Nutella. If I open the packet, I'm going to put all the Nutella on the toast.

Generally, I'd try to spread the Nutella as evenly across the toast as I could, but it's inevitable that a little more Nutella will get clumped in one area, making another area be spread a little thinner.

It's almost like there's a "Nutella" field, which would tell me how thick the spreading is at different points on my toast. And this field, if I were to add up the Nutella across the entire toast, would have either 1 (yeah right), 2, 3, or 4 packet's worth of Nutella (technically, if I just had plain toast, there would be 0 Nutella on the toast), but certainly not 2 1/2 packets - I don't want to waste what I've opened! Just as there is always an integer number of packets of Nutella on my toast, the fundamental fields of our universe have an integer number of packets of whatever it is they measure- but at any given point, it could be 0.483 or 0.314, or whatever inches of Nutella.

H- Here's some of the fundamental fields of our universe. There's the electromagnetic field, which as its name suggests, gives rise to electricity and magnetism, as well as light. There's the weak fields W-, Z, and W+, which play a role in some atomic phenomena. The electromagnetic and weak fields are actually alter-egos of the "electroweak" fields, which have the names weak hyper-charge and weak isospin, which give rise to electromagnetism and the weak force by interacting with the "Higgs field". 

There's an interesting difference between the electroweak fields and the Higgs field. The electromagnetic (EM) field has 4 components, one for the time dimension, and 3 for the 3 spatial dimensions. The time-component of this "four-vector" gives the electric potential, while the spatial components give the magnetic potential. Since the field returns a vector, which is like a little arrow pointing in space, at each position, when we imagine rotating the universe, the arrow rotates along with the universe. But the Higgs field, while it does consist of more than one scalar, does not have components that rotate with the universe, so whereas the EM field (as well as the weak fields) are called "vector fields", the Higgs field is called a "scalar field". Vectors are also called order-1 tensors, and scalars are called order-0 tensors, so the Higgs field might be thought of as an "order 0" field, while the EM and weak fields are "order 1" fields. This reminds me of the strong field, which is the other "order 1" field in the Standard Model. Whereas the EM field returns a single four-vector, and the weak fields are 3 different four-vector fields, there are 8 four-vector fields comprising the strong field, representing the 8 different ways the 3 strong-charge colours can be combined to carry the strong force. (I'll spare you the details of that)

Are there "order-2" fields? Well, yes, but it's not typically treated on a scale where we expect quantization, and so it's not part of the standard model. But in General Relativity, Einstein has his important Einstein Field Equation. The essence of this equation is simple, he says that two different 4x4 matrices (that is, order-2 tensors) are proportional to eachother: The Einstein tensor, which tells us about how the very fabric of our universe's space and time are curved, and the Stress-Energy tensor, which tells us about the energy (which is equivalent with mass) and momentum contained at a certain point in our universe. So the Einstein tensor field, while not treated alongside the fields of the Standard Model, is just as much a fundamental field, and is an order-2 field.

I) If you multiply two vectors in the right way, you can get an order-2 matrix. So in some sense, a matrix (an order-2 tensor) can be thought of as the square of a vector. But surely there's nothing like a square root of a vector, right? I mean, what would that be? An order 1/2 tensor? Well, actually, yeah, there's such a thing, and we need it to understand fermion fields like the electron field or the quark fields. These order-1/2 tensors are called "spinors", and consist of two complex numbers, and rotate when we rotate the universe, just like vectors do. But the weird thing is, we would think that if we rotate the universe by 360 degrees, the universe should be exactly the same as it was before the rotation. And while vectors behave that way, spinors actually end up getting negated as a result of rotating the universe 360 degrees, and it's not until we have rotated the universe 720 degrees, that everything ends up as it was before.

The fermion fields make up what we usually think of as matter, as stuff. These fields include the electron field, the neutrino field (which is like the electron field, but has no electric charge), the up-quark field, and the down-quark field. Those are the "first generation of matter", and there's actually 2 other generations of matter, which each have corresponding fields to those 4 fields. The quark fields are different from the electron and neutrino fields, because there's actually 3 spinor fields per quark field, one for each of the 3 "colours" a quark can have (these are the charges that interact with the strong force), whereas leptons like the electron and neutrino don't interact with the strong force, and don't have colour.

Sometimes, I like to imagine the fermion fields slightly differently. Just as an excitation in the photon field is actually a combination of excitations at the same time in both the weak hyper-charge and weak isospin fields (the electroweak fields) at the same time, and not a fundamental thing in itself, I imagine something similar for the fermion fields (I'll ignore the different generations of matter for now). So, let's stick with the neutrino field as one of the fundamental things - a fermion with no electric charge, no strong ("colour") charge, basically close to non-existent (but nonetheless existent). I'll just rename it the "neution" field in my imagined framework, to avoid getting too confusing. But instead of treating the electron and quark fields as a different thing, let's posit a "negaton" field and some "coloron" fields. In my imagination, an electron is simultaneously an excitation in both the neution and "negaton" field, with the negaton providing this composite particle with an electric charge of minus 1 (or minus three-thirds, if you prefer). The coloron fields (one for each of the 3 strong charges) would provide the composite particle with a colour charge and positive two-thirds electric charge, so quarks would be a lepton plus a coloron.

Now that I'm writing out this idea, I do find myself questioning it, because the Pauli exclusion principle says that there cannot be two excitations of the same fermion field in the same state (this is, however fine, and even "encouraged", for the boson fields like the electromagnetic field). This does not preclude excitations of the up and down fields, or electron field, from being in similar states, if they are indeed completely distinct fundamental fields (as traditionally assumed), and this matches as far as I know with observation, but it would, I would expect, preclude the neutions corresponding to an up and down quark, from being in the same state. So unless something about the composition of these fields I imagine prevented the excitations in the neution field from being in the same state when the corresponding excitations in the composite up and down quark fields were in similar states, this would undermine that framework.

I think that is all I have to say on the subject of the fundamental fields of our universe, for now.

Comment by MikkW (mikkel-wilson) on Boundaries vs Frames · 2022-11-05T06:44:52.113Z · LW · GW

I agree that "Factorization" is a good, erm, framing for Cartesian Frames

Comment by MikkW (mikkel-wilson) on So, geez there's a lot of AI content these days · 2022-10-23T15:56:09.096Z · LW · GW

We're currently filtered the randomized "from the archives" posts to show Rationality and World Modeling posts. I'm not sure whether this makes sense as a longterm solution, but it still seems useful as a counterbalancing force for the deluge of AI content, and helping users orient to the underlying culture that generated that AI content.

I would suggest having this filter applied 2/3rds of the time, but to function as it did previously, showing from all posts, the other 1/3rd of the time. That way, it is still biased towards Rationality and World Modelling, but not exclusively focused on it.

Comment by MikkW (mikkel-wilson) on Introduction to abstract entropy · 2022-10-23T14:26:50.053Z · LW · GW

I like the schwa and lug proposals. Trying to anticipate problems, I do suspect newcomers will see 'lug', and find themselves confused, if it has never been explained to them. It even seems possible they may not connect it to logarithms sans explanation

Comment by MikkW (mikkel-wilson) on Wisdom Cannot Be Unzipped · 2022-10-22T12:25:11.140Z · LW · GW

It's not that wisdom in general can't be unzipped (look at e.g. the Bible for a source of wisdom that has reliably enough been unzipped by many generations, to be worth preserving & reading), but rather:

The wisdom you wanted to convey, communicated in the format you chose, could not be unzipped by your target audience at the time you intended it to be of benefit.

Comment by mikkel-wilson on [deleted post] 2022-10-22T08:23:46.301Z

I don't think laughs should be the only metric, or even the "key" metric, but it is a great metric to be paying attention to

Comment by mikkel-wilson on [deleted post] 2022-10-22T08:22:00.063Z

I'd expect that as a man, you'll be more successful if you make an effort to remove authority-status from yourself

I have tried both approaches at different points in my life, and I have found in my experience, your expectation here does not hold

Comment by MikkW (mikkel-wilson) on MikkW's Shortform · 2022-10-20T09:43:31.305Z · LW · GW
  1. Robust Delegation is the question of how one agent is able to build other agents whose goals help with / don't work against the original agent's goals (the concept is from Demsky & Garrabrandt's Embedded Agency essay).

  2. The actions an AI agent created by us takes towards us, is correlated with: the actions that •the systems that such an AI will inevitably need to instantiate, in order to acheive its goals• will take towards the original AI, is correlated with: the actions that we humans take towards e.g. animals of the type that we factory farm, is correlated with: etc.

  3. Note that 2) takes a form similar to a prisoner's dillemma with two (semi-) cloned agents. Consider how functional decision theory relates to this.

Comment by MikkW (mikkel-wilson) on Why Weren't Hot Air Balloons Invented Sooner? · 2022-10-19T00:27:34.118Z · LW · GW

Though ballistic weapons were more developed at the time hot air balloons were actually invented, presumably making it more dangerous / unfeasible to fly a balloon deep into enemy territory than if the balloon had been invented earlier

Comment by MikkW (mikkel-wilson) on MikkW's Shortform · 2022-10-14T14:31:52.887Z · LW · GW

Choices effected electrically

Courses could, I hope, change

Voices are still in vital range

Source of security, come quickly

Comment by MikkW (mikkel-wilson) on Against the weirdness heuristic · 2022-10-04T19:44:17.203Z · LW · GW

Today, I was having a conversation with a classmate (in a very programming-heavy class), and he seemed to think it was unrealistic that I was saying within the next 15 years there would be contact lenses that serve as computer screens, directly to the eyeball

Comment by MikkW (mikkel-wilson) on Petrov Day Retrospective: 2022 · 2022-09-30T20:55:28.096Z · LW · GW

I second that we can't really conclude that high-karma users aren't the button-pressing types, for the reasons you reference