Accelerating the capitalistic tendencies of social systems to do good 2019-09-18T03:34:32.054Z · score: 1 (1 votes)
What are some of your "Crazy Ideas" that you're currently thinking about? 2019-09-18T03:33:10.654Z · score: 2 (2 votes)


Comment by notjaelkoh on Tips for crying · 2019-10-12T08:33:06.555Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I unironically interpret this as a scathing critique of how we miss the point of things when we draft guides to them.

For example: many of us want to procrastinate less, and alot of the solutions regarding getting things done/procrastinating less involve similar strategies mentioned above. "imagine yourself as a productive person", "remember to take things one step at a time", when in actuality these tactics/steps aren't really that effective compared to changing your environment, taking study drugs or just doing it.

I also read this as a reminder that most of us miss the forest for the trees- say you want to cry because you want to feel better. By improving our ability to cry we might be excluding ourselves from other strategies that can achieve the desired result. (for example, talking to someone else/taking some xanax could make you feel better than crying)

No offense if this isn't how the post was meant to be read - it's still a really well written piece. I just wonder if anyone else saw it in my perspective.

Comment by notjaelkoh on [deleted post] 2019-09-28T15:58:39.454Z

Asking for a friend:

How do we cause the most suffering in the most cost effective and efficient way?

Comment by notjaelkoh on [deleted post] 2019-09-28T15:13:57.547Z

The negative-opposite of effective altruism:

One link on quora suggests effective misanthropy.

Comment by notjaelkoh on [deleted post] 2019-09-20T15:47:35.274Z

To do: think about life choices and how to maximise social impact. I definetly overestimate the importance of studying/working in a developed country + lean too heavily on the beaten road

Comment by notjaelkoh on What are some of your "Crazy Ideas" that you're currently thinking about? · 2019-09-20T15:20:48.053Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Great point, I wholeheartedly agree. Other reasons why school start times aren't later are because of bus unions, as well as the fact that car crashes by sleepy teens aren't news-worthy.

Comment by notjaelkoh on [deleted post] 2019-09-20T14:37:28.508Z

Alien A and Student S talk about grades. Student S wants to help work on the world's most pressing issues, like an effective altruist.

A: Why do you want better grades?

S: To go to a better university.

A: Why do you want to go to a better university?

S: To get a more prestigious degree.

A: Why do you want a more prestigious degree?

S: So I can get a high-impact job to work on the world's most pressing issues.

A: Why do you need a high-impact job to work on the world's most pressing issues?

S: Because you need to access and influence powerful people to work/support you on these issues.

A: Why do you need powerful people to support you?

S: The nature of high-impact jobs mandate the need to interact with people of power as they involve policy decisions as well as technological development, which requires access to the cutting-edge of technology to develop.

Student S asks Alien A questions

S: How do you get powerful aliens to support you?

A: You have to get them to acknowledge your presence, hear your side and agree.

S: How do you get them to acknowledge your presence?

A: You can broadcast yourself as loud as possible on the Aliennet, or meet them in public, or message their

S: or you can go for a job interview


Comment by notjaelkoh on [deleted post] 2019-09-20T14:11:16.784Z

Stupid ideas in my head that are wasting my time:

Security Mindsets-> it gets to the heart of the issue. You dont want to get better grades, you want to go to university, you dont want to go to university, you want a degree, you dont want a degree, you want a job.

"How do I get better grades" vs "How do I study better" -> studying doesn't always lead to better grades

Why arent more students taking exams when they can just practice practice practice and retake multiple times to get a good result - ronin in japan? - maybe stigma? - maybe time loss is large?/opp cost? but it decides your future no?

How to do X - extremely vague, Do X is already a basic action, possibly break into steps?

How do I X - extremelly vague again, suggests difficulty in doing X

How are you - asks for state of something

Comment by notjaelkoh on [deleted post] 2019-09-20T13:57:47.181Z

I definitely write better shortforms than posts. Probably because I hold myself to a much lower standard (and I speak more conversationally).

Comment by notjaelkoh on [deleted post] 2019-09-20T12:28:55.111Z


What changes can we see in the education system?

Syllabus changes -unlikely. No reason to unless syllabus changes make test scoring signals more accurafe.

Online degrees are unlikely to take hold because they don't signal conformity, unless they require you to commit personal resources (money, personal vetting and interview, travel to a location, basically do a lot of work.)+ the univeristy is "prestigious"

What reforms can work?

Later school times smaller classes better syallbi better resources

These are what I call naive solutions.

True solutions see the system for what they are and work with it.

If the college is a signalling filter, then we just have to affect the signal and the filter.

Illegal solutions seem promising. Diploma Mills/fake degrees/SAT cheating and bribery/college admissions scandals are great ways to profit from the system. Unfortunately they don't really seem replicable (ie there's no vulnerability that I know of that can be repeated to collapse the system)

Fake degrees are neigh impossible on a large scale because universitys keep track of graduates and are incentivesed to maintain the sanctity of their degree.

Diploma Mills I guess might work? But without name recognition it might fail the signalling model.

No nootropic exists that is significant enough to skew grades by a large amount

Private, score-centric tuition centers can exist that are incentivised to help you score high marks - but

  1. people who pick tuition centres don't pick on how well they can help you (think doctors) but rather how well you think they might help you.

2)people who go to these centres are really bad at school, which means they're more likely to be poor and have a low iq (not an insult, just a fact)

A "keeping it real" tuition centre simply won't work because its giving what people need rather than that want.

In fact a "blue pill" tuition center can do quite well. Have 3d lectures and vr homework and Skype calls with professors and not a single practice test. Say you want to cultivate the love of learning and that grades are secondary.

Crazier ideas Why don't students call bomb threats more? What about student terrorism?

Self study education Something something self help book people drop out of school to study something something they can reliably get top scores Something something they inflate the system

Ahem hasn't this already been done? Historical and self-help book examples.

Comment by notjaelkoh on What are some of your "Crazy Ideas" that you're currently thinking about? · 2019-09-20T12:24:09.474Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Hey, absolutely amazing comment. I can see you've definitely been thinking about this issue for a while. I'm glad to find another person who cares about education reform.

There's definitely a lot of ways that schools can be exponentially better without much trouble. A 60 dollar ereader is one example, another example is merely delaying the school start time by 1 hour. A later start times reduces teen mortality (car crashes by sleepy teens) by 75%. As well as improves SAT scores and reduced teen crime. ( its the time between school dismissal and parents returning home that teens get into the most crime) [Matthew Walker's Why We Sleep] *

You can look everywhere and you can find obvious and not so obvious ways to improve social systems but why don't do we try to fix them?

Well, I like Robin Hanson's The Elephant In the Brain and in your case Bryan Caplans The Case Against Education.

The truth is, education isn't about learning new things. It's about separating students based on how conformist and intelligent they are.

The best example I know that illustrates this is: you can have a harvard education or a harvard degree. What do you choose?

If you agree with this Caplan/Hansonian model, then improvements in education don't make sense. We think we're supposed to improve learning, but we're actually trying to filter kids.

Consider this: Imagine a brain scanner that can determine how smart, friendly and hardworking you are. It is unflinchingly accurate. Assume these values are fixed. At first, we use it for some scientific trials similar to personality tests. But soon, employers realise that because this scanner is never wrong, they can hire anyone who scores well on the test. Would college as we know it still exist?

Comment by notjaelkoh on [deleted post] 2019-09-19T12:59:11.186Z

For people who haven't read Bryan Caplans Case against education, it might be easy to see the signalling model of education by using this hypothetical example.

Supose universe X has a planet called Earth2.

In earth2, people and society's function similar to earth with one minor difference - for some reason, bodybuilding is the new knowledge work.

Students go to bodybuilding school, and go to private gyms after school and every few years take standardised competitions to get scores.

They go to bodybuilding universities and become bodybuilding ceos and professors.

Some (lazy) bodybuilders skimp on bodybuilding lectures and fail the competitions, and have to beg on the streets.

So what?

Firstly, genetic differences matter. People are born taller, shorter, disabled, abled, and its clear to see who will probably do well at bodybuilding.

Secondly, socioeconomic differences matter. Some people can afford private gyms and private lessons from coaches, and they do better in exams.

Thirdly, the system is ineffiencent. Like educational psychology, the field of biology has already uncovered most of what needs to be known about muscle development. We know that bodybuilding lectures don't work and that we need to do more workouts and poses to do better in competitions. However, for some reason our bodybuilding teachers keep assiging us exercises to do at home rather than right there and then.

Furthermore, they make us sleep deprived and it hurts our muscle development.

Fourthly, like school knowledge, your physique doesn't matter squat in the workplace.

Your body gets weaker after competitions and neglect, after all there isn't anything else to prep for. It's also completely inapplicable in the workplace.

Five, it's a waste of the governments money. Any attempt to subsidise the educstion system just leads to increased competition and more time out of work. --------not sure about this------ Six, we don't really care about physique. When it comes to private coaching, we usually base our decisions on whether they appear credible rather than actually are. A great competition goer may not be a good coach.

So how do we fix this?

  1. Subsidies won't work.

  2. Pretty sure government will be punished for doing anything about this. (people will probably vote a president out who says they want less education - - Andrew yang?)

  3. Teachers and principals aren't incentivised to help. (why?)

  4. Tuition teachers aren't incentivised to help. (incentivised to look like they'll work, but they lose customers if curriculum is too difficult)

Comment by notjaelkoh on Accelerating the capitalistic tendencies of social systems to do good · 2019-09-19T12:16:08.264Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The way I interpreted it, I see the "level of corruption" as "capitalistic tendency(CT)".

At first, I thought colleges have a huge CT for high grades, and that by creating hyperinflation of grades you could ruin the system.

Regarding " If the systems are as a corrupt as you think they are, they should destroy themselves on their own in any case."

I took it to mean that if there truly was this overempahsis on grades that surely there would be an incentive for schools to give good grades and tuitions to give good service.

But it turns out people don't really care about their grades. It's kind of like how people don't really care about the quality of their doctors. From what I've seen, people judge a school/tuition centre not by how well it gives them good grade but usually by prestige/appearance of quality(academic equivalent of security theatre)

Unfortunately, I don't see how one can tutor students to satisfy both their desire for looking good and their fake desire to get better grades.

A tution centre that does that simply goes broke/any tution centre that is hard on its student loses customers.

Comment by notjaelkoh on Accelerating the capitalistic tendencies of social systems to do good · 2019-09-19T12:14:38.028Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Incredible reply. In just a few sentences you've pointed out several really large holes in my viewpoint. I'm definitely going to think a lot more about this.

Looking at alternatives to college like PRAXIS and Lambda School, they seem to be economically sound (especially Lambda). Why aren't they more popular?

My guess is that schools signal conformity and that going to alternative education signals nonconformism. (I think Bryan Caplan wrote that any alternatives to college would be first tried out by the nonconformists- I guess this means any alternative to school has to have a significant population of participants?)

I was also thinking about the nature of tuition in general. I don't think customers value the quality of tuition, but rather the appearance of quality - so fun neat looking learning methods would be favoured over the dry practice practice practice that studies show truly work.

Comment by notjaelkoh on [deleted post] 2019-09-18T03:19:55.808Z

Solving Climate Change/Environmental degredation(CC/ED)

I use lobbyists as the root cause of the problem, but CC/ED is probably a unavoidable facet of Capitalism. (Marx probably said something about it idk)

Stuff that might work:

1.Bringing down the Capitalistic Democratic model of governance. (haha)

Stuff that won't work:

1. A ranking system/app like Facebook that just ranks everyone's ability in stopping lobbyists (this is a horrible example, i just use it because it's so general- you can literally rank anyone's ability at doing anything you want -like regulating AI) -although when thinking about ranking systems like the JUST500 (top 500 ethical companies), it doesn't seem to work so well.

2. Public marketing events (e.g: mass display of wastage of straws to call attention to lobbyists, plus some donation to X charity to discard bad perception)

Comment by notjaelkoh on Effective Altruism and Everyday Decisions · 2019-09-18T03:16:20.064Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think this ties into the Hansionian view that people don't want A for X, they actually want Y; and that we should design systems that give them Y while appearing to give them.

Apologies for the generalisation. With regard to your topic: People don't want to A: Refuse Straws because of Environmental Concerns, rather, they actually want to Look like they care about the enviroment because it's high status.

If one is really concerned with solving the root problems of environmentalism, then we need to somehow make people want to prevent agricultural/energy lobbyists because it's high status. Easier said than done, however.

Comment by notjaelkoh on [deleted post] 2019-09-18T02:48:19.050Z

Intuition Pump -> Break down every word of a sentence and "pump" (edit/adjust/change) it to learn something about it:

He hit me when i was eating a piece of bread. -> She hit her when she was eating 100 pieces of meat. (We adjust the "variables" of the sentence to derive some higher level meaning, namely some cultural significance on is female-on-female assaults perceived as worse than male-on-(presumably)male assault)

Ignore the dumb example though. How do we solve poverty?

A good policy (independent on government and dependent on capitalistic greed) is 1)profitable and 2)replicable.

Suppose there's a family of 5 people. Call them 1,2,3,4,5 respectively. 1 is a 10 year old boy that will die in 20 days if you don't help them because of starvation.

In most cases, we assume that we should help 1 through charities and what not. Unfortunately, 1s die al the time. How do we fix this?

Suppose greedy businessman meets 1 on the street and offers to feed 1 for 1 year in exchange for 1% of 1's salary for the rest of his life. Is this ethical? Is this legal? Suppose it takes $500 to feed 1 for 1 year. Suppose there's a 50% chance that 1% of 1's lifetime earnings is more than $500 (presumably due to the fact that 1 is likely to die at ages 11-18)

The first reaction to this (pretty bad) hypothetical situation is disgust and outcry. How could you possibly profit from the poor? Well, in some parts of Asia, sweatshops are already doing some combination of this situation. (replace greedy businessman with sweatshop, replace 1 year with 5 years, replace 1% of salary with X amount of work and X% chance of death)

Is it not unethical to let 1s without access to sweatshops die? What if we replace GB (greedy businessman) with kind hearted Bill Gates? what about Ugandan Government? what about Goldman Sachs?

What if it was to feed 1s family instead? What if instead of asking for money, you ask that 1 help other 1s in the future? (Surely the pay it forward system has to be both ethical and legal)

My point here is not to play with the limits of our ethics like what self-driving car ethics tests do. Rather, some combination of this surely is profitable and legal first, and ethical second. (Hell, even microfinance lies within this domain of "exploitation").

I haven't thought much about this, but some off the top of my head.

If it's profitable, GBs will do it.

If it's legal, everyone will do it.

If everyone does it, the government will do it.

If the government does it, it doesn't really matter if it's ethical or not. (look at saudi arabia and organ markets)

Some actionable tasks:

Find out the legality/profitability/pragmatic implementation of such a system and all it's respective pumps.

Find out how similar systems like microfinance/sweatshops work and whether they can be improved.

Comment by notjaelkoh on Effective Altruism and Everyday Decisions · 2019-09-17T20:19:03.019Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I personally think that doing these "small things that can help the environment" detract us from the root problems of society. By personalizing environmentalism into a simple problem that everyone just needs to play their part in, we lose the effective altruism-esque methodology in solving these problems. We stop thinking "hey maybe we should start taking out energy/agriculture lobbyists from the government" and start thinking "why isn't Kevin asking for a drink without a straw?". When you look at the "impact" you're making, its like removing text files from your computer when you have a full hard disk. I think it's probably better to convince/ignore anyone who asks you why you aren't doing <insert enviromental fad here>.

Comment by notjaelkoh on If you had to pick one thing you've read that changed the course of your life, what would it be? · 2019-09-16T21:46:15.502Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

To answer your question, Bryan Caplan's the Case Against Education. It led me to think more deeply about the systems we live in, and what to do about it.

Comment by notjaelkoh on Exercises for Overcoming Akrasia and Procrastination · 2019-09-16T21:40:39.717Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Just wanted to highlight the self-handicapping view of procrastination as it might be of interest to you.

Here's some resources: