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Comment by osiris on Singleton: the risks and benefits of one world governments · 2013-07-11T00:25:46.454Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

There are as many ways to run a one-world government as there are countries on this Earth today, and possibly more. No single democracy is the same as all the others, and then you get the various dictatorships and plutocracies that hide behind the name... Even now, a global government is forming from international treaties, fear of nuclear death and terrorism, as well as from trade--it would seem the trend cannot be stopped just by saying one does not want a global government. So, what am I worried about? That the global government that evolves will make my birthplace, the USSR, look like a utopia. The sheer number of USEFUL solutions needed to PERFECT a global government (that is, to create one that we would all agree is competent and beneficial) requires, I think, that we fix up the governments doing the negotiating for a world government FIRST. A good tree is much less likely to produce a bad fruit, to use a Biblical reference. I am not arguing for ignoring world government development, but I would like to point out that scaling up would work a lot better by concentrating on removing issues we see in our governments today...

Comment by osiris on Four Focus Areas of Effective Altruism · 2013-07-11T00:01:00.770Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Honesty in one's dealings is always important. As a member of ROTLCON staff (brony convention in Colorado), I am often asked difficult questions about helping people through our charity auction. Lying is not an option, if one expects to donate, or to accept donations. Kindness? Given how the show seems to show it off in Fluttershy, I would guess that kindness includes one's understanding and acceptance of other people. Saving a people by destroying something else means knowing exactly what you destroy, and seeing its value--perhaps, the destruction can be avoided. Only one example of kindness as shown in the show, of course. Loyalty--uncertain. Laughter--as a convention, the thing I'm working on is about fun. But, it is also an attempt to throw money at the problem in the best way possible (something we're just figuring out, by the way, so we will be applying the above article and related advice to altruism). So, also uncertain, but there is a connection for me and my fellow con staff.

Comment by osiris on Rationality Quotes June 2013 · 2013-07-10T23:50:08.407Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Not everyone who speaks about morality automatically sinks down into nonsense and intuition, into the depths of accusations and praise for particular persons, however strange the language they use. Sometimes, speaking about morality means speaking about rationality, surviving and thriving, etc. It may be a mistake to think that Asimov was entirely ignorant of the philosophies this website promotes, given his work in science and the quotes one finds from his interviews, letters, and stories.

Comment by osiris on Rationality Quotes June 2013 · 2013-06-25T08:50:01.655Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

"Never let your sense of morals get in the way of doing what's right." --Isaac Asimov

All too often, an intuition creates mistakes which rationality must remedy, when one is presented with a complex problem in life. No fault of the intuition, of course--it is merely the product of nature.

Comment by osiris on Rationality Quotes June 2013 · 2013-06-25T08:33:12.083Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Would it benefit the children more than being raised by the parents? Then the answer would be "yes." Many people throughout history attempted to have their children raised by experts alone, so it is not without precedent, for all its strangeness. Nobles in particular entrusted their children to servants, tutors, and warriors, rather than seek to provide everything needed for a healthy (by their standards) childhood themselves. Caring about one's offspring may include realizing that one needs lots of help.

By the way, I did not intend to cut off an avenue of exploration, here--merely to point out that the selection processes for business, government, and mating do not have anything to do with getting a better teacher or a person good at deciding what should be taught. If that does destroy some potential solution, I hope you forgive me, and would love to hear of that solution so I may change.

Comment by osiris on Some reservations about Singer's child-in-the-pond argument · 2013-06-23T12:00:32.705Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thank you. I had no idea you posted that! Does cast some light on what was once unclear...

The issue is in HOW one does something as much as WHAT one does, it would seem--I am a personal care provider (and volunteer) as well as an organizer for conventions, so I do understand where you are going with this. I am both working to improve the world in some small way and to get money so I can later give people money when I am wealthy, and I did not even consider my own approach (personal as it is) until your comment made me realize how limited (and un-diverse) it is to exclude one method in favor of another.

Comment by osiris on Some reservations about Singer's child-in-the-pond argument · 2013-06-23T03:51:38.720Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Something I noticed when a friend told me about this (some terms have been altered):

Suppose there are a hundred ponds, with ten children each drowning, ALL THE TIME. Wearing a clean suit will earn you enough money to save more of them by hiring people using your large paycheck (I shall assume this suit is good enough to get you a decent job) to fish children out of ponds. In the mean time, you'd ALSO be living a comfortable life, which will further allow you to buy job-getting suits for saved children and divers, thereby increasing the number of people that will impact the situation. You would run out of drowning children pretty quick, then, and even supposing you never do, will be able to dive in to save any that DO fall in with no fears about your suit (since you can just buy another one later).

We do not live in a world of one pond and one child. I suspect we live in a world with considerably more ponds and more children than even the one above. Currently, the world we live in is full of divers (if only in potential, since people are willing to do ANYTHING for money these days), but may need some more suit-wearing investors into charity. Therefore, keep walking, get a decent job, THEN come back to the ponds with a team of divers.

PS: Would be interested to know how much money would be needed to solve the WHOLE World Hunger problem, WHOLE Poverty Problem, and so on. I suspect it will help determine just how many people are needed to fish EVERY child out of EVERY pond, and thereby show what the proportion between divers and suit-wearing investors should be. Before then, I'll keep on working on getting that suit (or them blue suede shoes), and dive only when I can afford to.

Comment by osiris on Rationality Quotes June 2013 · 2013-06-23T03:16:45.092Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

A question: How many people are so attached to being experts at parenting that they would rather see children jobless, unhappy, or dead than educated by experts in a particular field (whether biology or social studies)? Those are the people I worry about, when I imagine a system in which parents/government could decide all the time what their children learn and from what institution. For every parent or official that changes their religion just to get children into the best schools, willing to give up every alliance just to get the tribe's offspring a better chance at life, and happy to give up their own authority in the name of a growing child's happiness, there are many, many more who are not so caring and fair, I fear.

Experts in a field are far more likely to want to educate children better BECAUSE the above attachment to beliefs, politics, and authority is not, in their minds, in competition with their care for the children (or, at least, shouldn't be, if those same things depend upon their knowledge). So, rather than saying we trust business, government, or one's genetic donors, shouldn't we be trying to make it so that the best teachers are trusted, period? Or, am I missing the point?

Comment by osiris on Rationality Quotes June 2013 · 2013-06-19T10:24:03.826Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Just because your enemies will not always be your friends does not mean it is useless to TRY to convert them to be one's friends. It is, as most things, a bet. One must know, beforehand, if it is WORTH it to try.

I would say it's a useful quote because it provides an alternative to the usual "smash them as soon as they oppose you" deal going on.

Comment by osiris on Effective Altruism Through Advertising Vegetarianism? · 2013-06-19T10:14:18.950Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not a very well educated person in this field, but if I may:

I see my various squishy feelings (desires and what-is-right intuitions are in this list) as loyal pets. Sometimes, they must be disciplined and treated with suspicion, but for the most part, they are there to please you in their own dumb way. They're no more enemies than one's preference for foods. In my care for them, I train and reward them, not try to destroy or ignore them. Without them, I have no need to DO better among other people, because I would not be human--that is, some things are important only because I'm a barely intelligent ape-man, and they should STAY important as long as I remain a barely intelligent ape-man. Ignoring something going on in one's mind, even when one KNOWS it is wrong, can be a source of pain, I've found--hypocrisy and indecision are not my friends.

Hope I didn't make a mess of things with this comment.

Comment by osiris on Effective Altruism Through Advertising Vegetarianism? · 2013-06-19T04:05:10.746Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I predict a big drop in price soon after vat meat becomes sufficiently popular due to money saved on dealing with useless organs and suffering, as well as a great big leap in profit for any farm that sells "natural cow meat." One is inherently efficient due to it simplfying farming. The other is pretty, however ugly it is for the animals. I do worry about the numbers New Harvest gives, but in the long run, there is hope for this regardless of what the price is initially--the potential for success in feeding humanity cheaply and well is just too great, in my opinion. Seems like I will be pushing "meat in a bucket" whenever possible, and I am not even that into making animals happy.

Comment by osiris on Rationality Quotes June 2013 · 2013-06-18T04:56:46.262Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I was under the impression you wanted to improve things significantly. Hence why I mentioned that issue--and it IS an issue.

Comment by osiris on Rationality Quotes June 2013 · 2013-06-15T06:39:25.759Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

That could work! On the other hand, it may set up a situation where a person who is only guilty of being raised in the wrong place may never get a decent job. Wonder what can be done to prevent that as much as possible?

Comment by osiris on Rationality Quotes June 2013 · 2013-06-06T22:13:52.815Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Hopefully, the positive values are greater in number than the negative ones, if one is not certain which ones are which--and I see quite a few positive values in recent superhero movies.

Comment by osiris on Rationality Quotes June 2013 · 2013-06-06T13:35:05.436Z · score: 11 (11 votes) · LW · GW

“Those who will not reason, are bigots, those who cannot, are fools, and those who dare not, are slaves.” --Lord Byron.

All too often those who are least rational in their best moments are the greatest supporters of using one's head, if only to avoid too early a demise. I wonder how many years Lord Byron gained from rational thought, and which of the risks he took did he take because he was good at betting...

Comment by osiris on Rationality Quotes June 2013 · 2013-06-06T13:24:19.271Z · score: 8 (10 votes) · LW · GW

“Reality provides us with facts so romantic that imagination itself could add nothing to them.” --Jules Verne.

The fellow had a brilliant grasp of how to make scientific discovery interesting, and I think people could learn a thing or two from reading his stuff, still.

Comment by osiris on Rationality Quotes June 2013 · 2013-06-06T13:06:24.869Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

It is not healthy to believe that every curtain hides an Evil Genius (I speak here as a person who lived in the USSR). Given the high failure rate of EVERY human work, I'd say that most secrets in the movie industry have to do with saving bad writing and poor execution with clever marketing and setting up other conflicts people could watch besides the pretty explosions. It's not about selling Imperialism and Decadance to a country that's been accused of both practically since its formation(sorry if you're American and noticed these accusations exist only now in the 21st century), or trying to force people into some new world order-style government where a dictator takes care of every need. Though, I must admit that I wonder about Michael Bay's agenda sometimes...

Tony Stark isn't JUST a rich guy with a WMD. He messes up. He fails his friends and loved ones. He is in some way the lowest point in each of our lives, given some nobility. In spite of all those troubles, the fellow stands up and goes on with his life, gets better and tries to improve the world. David Wong seems to have missed the POINT of a couple of movies (how about the message of empowerment-through-determination in Captain America? The fellow must still earn his power as a "runt"), and even worse tries to raise conspiracy theory thinking up as rationality.

So, maybe, the knee-jerk reaction is wise, because overanalizing something made to entertain tends to be somewhat similar to seeing shapes in the clouds. Sometimes, Iron Man is just Iron Man.

Comment by osiris on Many Weak Arguments vs. One Relatively Strong Argument · 2013-06-05T14:13:16.137Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Very well said! I would say it's a better example than the one listed in the above post...

Comment by osiris on Rationality Quotes June 2013 · 2013-06-02T13:12:42.334Z · score: 13 (17 votes) · LW · GW

This is yet another reason why a God that answers prayers is far, far crueler than an indifferent Azathoth. Imagine the weight of guilt that must settle on a person if they prayed for the wrong thing and God answered!

On another note, that girl must not be very picky, if God has to destroy a whole city to keep her a virgin...(please don't blast me for this!)

Comment by osiris on Who thinks quantum computing will be necessary for AI? · 2013-05-31T15:58:11.834Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I am reminded of Asimov's "positronic brain" and how he came up with it. Perhaps the new goal of research in artificial intelligence should be coming up with new magical terms and explaining as little as possible. It could earn enough money and public interest to create an artificial person...

The forms of intelligence I am familiar with (really only one kind, from a materials points of view) are not enough to discuss what is truly necessary for successful AI.

Comment by osiris on Being Foreign and Being Sane · 2013-05-28T10:39:35.254Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

As a person who had to adjust to life in the United States after moving over from Russia... There are three English phrases that a foreigner must know to learn English quickly, so long as they are willing to LOOK stupid (an important art in a world so obsessed with being serious).

  1. "Where's the Bathroom?" Apart from its obvious uses, it is is essential to one's survival to know where one may hide to plot one's next move. Given the creative responses I sometimes received, I suspect it is also useful for learning profanity.
  2. "I don't understand." It is the most useful phrase in the English language. People will generally make an effort to communicate on a number of levels after this is used. Excellent for new words and concepts.
  3. "Please help." Not all technology will have clear instructions printed on it. Getting lost is also unpleasant when you cannot read the signs. So, asking for help early and often helps one avoid all kinds of trouble (such as accidentally setting a classroom on fire because you don't know how a Bunsen burner works). Many learning opportunities are missed when one figures something out with no input from a person used to the tech...

Perhaps phrases similar to these exist in every language--by using them, one can learn the rest of the language quickly, if clumsily.

Comment by osiris on The flawed Turing test: language, understanding, and partial p-zombies · 2013-05-23T06:11:39.509Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Why not test its ability to negotiate and trade, as well as to improvise in human behavior? If it can write you a poem for some money, then invest that money in the stock market, and later use the resulting fortune to benefit itself (an upgrade, perhaps?), then you're probably dealing with an intelligent being, no? Bonus points if it studies other methods of succeeding, and is willing to benefit other intelligent beings.

Comment by osiris on The flawed Turing test: language, understanding, and partial p-zombies · 2013-05-23T06:04:21.722Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

True, but we are the ones creating the AI. I suspect a programmer that only has access to human thinking would leave their mark upon any such machine.

And, since we WANT something that can relate to us, we must test its capacity for human-like behavior.

An AI that can only relate to intelligent fungi from some far-off star would be absolutely useless to us, and would likely find us equally useless. No common ground would mean no need for contact or commerce. At the risk of sounding a lil' Ferengi, I want a machine intelligence I can do business with.

Comment by osiris on Post ridiculous munchkin ideas! · 2013-05-14T22:32:31.469Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

One benefit that I am aware of is in one's thinking. Gods and heroes are at times still targets to aim for. Fresh new ideas spring from the dust of the old. Superstition examined is, with the right teacher, superstition avoided. The teaching of many different points of view helps understand other people's values. Illustrating a difficult problem with a myth or two assisted me in mathematics and in examining how I view right and wrong (my current obsession with diversity could be blamed on the sheer variety of myths I absorbed).

The second benefit, and one may consistently find even in the absence of good teachers and a clear goal is that it simply provides a much-needed break in between lessons useful for work.

Comment by osiris on Post ridiculous munchkin ideas! · 2013-05-14T22:03:15.582Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Create artistic programs with a "pet" in order to educate and amuse. A friend of mine once jokingly mentioned that the Microsoft Paperclip was his childhood friend. I wonder if a far more interesting character would become popular, and provide greater incentive to buy the art program and then to learn it...

Comment by osiris on Post ridiculous munchkin ideas! · 2013-05-14T21:40:24.979Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I recommend teaching nonsense. A little bit of science fiction, mythology, and an introduction to the world's multifaceted culture (the Internet helps, but not nearly as much as people seem to imagine) may result in more creativity and attention to lessons children in poor countries would find boring. Yes, we want useful people, but a great part of that is creating a free, strong human being, not a clever machine or a rebel.

Comment by osiris on Welcome to Less Wrong! (5th thread, March 2013) · 2013-05-02T02:49:08.107Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

What will you do now that you can't form a movement of rationalists? Take over world? Become a superhero? Invent the best recipe for cookies? MAINTAIN AND INCREASE DIVERSITY?

For example, I am going to post a recipe for a bacon trilobite and my experiences and thoughts about paperclipping among humans. Any interesting things you be thinkin' of postin'? ^^

Comment by osiris on Welcome to Less Wrong! (5th thread, March 2013) · 2013-04-27T05:31:55.263Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I share considerably more of my heritage with Asians than I do with Caucasians. However, I do not have the same coloration.

So, if one is racist-1, how would one treat me? Am I white, for appearing white? Am I Asian, for the overwhelming number of my ancestors' coloration? In other words, what makes race? My genetics, or my skin? If it is my skin, then it would appear race is nothing more than a bit of culture, with no real advantages or disadvantages attached save those given by appearance.

For the record, I consider myself of no race save human, and expect others to see me as a human being.

Comment by osiris on Religion's Claim to be Non-Disprovable · 2013-04-22T02:53:12.830Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Exactly. As I said, the best we can hope for is to slowly eliminate religion as we know it today. Not to eliminate religion, period.

Comment by osiris on Religion's Claim to be Non-Disprovable · 2013-04-21T12:32:27.292Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Getting rid of religion is a bit like getting rid of the economy or government. Yes, the whole business of ritual (and most other cultural stuff religion claims) can be changed, eliminating religion as we know it today, but simply declaring one day that "religion doesn't exist" will lead to other problems, which may actually be WORSE than some people holding a usually non-harmful belief, or belief-in-belief. Cults, of personality and otherwise, come up as a terrifying option...

Changing religion is a Long Game.

A far more constructive use of one's time, to increase rationality in the population, is to encourage rational thinking among the majority of mankind (who are religious, anyway, so you give them the option of thinking about religion better, thus playing the Long Game).

Comment by osiris on Welcome to Less Wrong! (5th thread, March 2013) · 2013-04-21T07:53:56.372Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Welcome, fellow new person! You've got some wonderful music. Any particular things that interest you in the "confusing question" genre?

Comment by osiris on Welcome to Less Wrong! (5th thread, March 2013) · 2013-04-20T07:11:47.206Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thank you! I will go and take a look!

Comment by osiris on Welcome to Less Wrong! (5th thread, March 2013) · 2013-04-20T07:11:09.447Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks for commenting!

The easy answer is everything. All things that are and can coexist. This is, of course, because I want humanity to survive and thrive as much and as well as possible.

You could say it is an attempt at being a bit more like the dreaded paperclip maximizer, which is a fierce beast indeed, and worth learning from(any reference to kung fu movies is intentional).

Comment by osiris on Cold fusion: real after all? · 2013-04-20T06:41:57.569Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Ah! I think I see what you mean. This is a matter of how much one wins, not whether one wins.

As for usefulness. What do you mean?

Comment by osiris on Cold fusion: real after all? · 2013-04-20T04:35:36.639Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The problem with lottery tickets is that in buying one, you accept that the chances of winning are slim to none. The expected payoff of any activity which tests if knowledge is true, is true knowledge. I always win that gamble, so long as I play the game (as stated previously in numbers 1 through 4). And it is about fun--what's more fun than educating people, helping people, finding new stuff, or validating someone's claims? Seems like the essence of science to me... Skepticism is useful only when you know something the one making the claim doesn't know, after all. For example, the probability of Deepok Chopra's ideas about the mind being correct are so small because of what we already know about psychology, and because his stuff contradicts itself. Deepok Chopra's claims are, therefore, not worth testing, not because all weird claims are not worth testing, but because even the payoff of "proven wrong" may be impossible in such a case (no learning will take place).

PS: I suspect I'm getting something wrong here. Still, I will go forward, to see what I can learn. As I said, I look forward to seeing how people estimate the whole cold fusion business. So, what kind of game do you think is being played? Is this the same as playing the lottery (dumping money into something that won't even produce learning, and hence fun)? Is it worth it to test cold fusion, based on previous knowledge? Why? My own position is, of course, cautious optimism (not investing in cold fusion for a while yet), because I expect to see SOME kind of reward no matter the outcome--it SEEMS to me like scientists are doing science, here (not that I know enough to say with 90 percent certainty)...

Comment by osiris on Cold fusion: real after all? · 2013-04-19T22:28:00.087Z · score: -3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Given that much of my to-post list, I love what you just said.

Declaring that ghosts do not exist when one sees a sheeted fellow float by is not enough. Sometimes, one must examine stuff closely, even if the chances are that it is a scam/wrong/useless. Why? My own reasons have been:

  1. By unmasking the ghost, you decrease the number of people wasting their money and time on ghosts.
  2. Your efforts may discourage a scam artist seeking to use the same trick, if you unmask the ghost.
  3. Close examination of the ghost may reveal useful knowledge that does not have to do with ghosts.
  4. However small the chance, ghosts may be real, and you've just uncovered an entirely new thing worth time and money.

1 and 2, in my opinion, are VERY useful in this century. People need examples of rational thinking.

With 3 and 4, it is important to note that not all estimates we make are right, or have a chance of being right. I am reminded of a recent Pascal's Wager article posted here. Whether it is the enthusiasm of those who look forward to a new power source or the skeptics who have reasonable doubts, someone is BOUND to be wrong in their estimates. I look forward to any future development in "is cold fusion real after all?" question as a lesson in what the best way to estimate would be.

Comment by osiris on [Link] Should Psychological Neuroscience Research Be Funded? · 2013-04-19T04:12:48.519Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Investment in psychology research won't stop, I think, so if there are any issues with how it is being done, it would be best to resolve them, no? A minimal investment will have to be made, just to avoid people wasting more money in the future.

Comment by osiris on Welcome to Less Wrong! (5th thread, March 2013) · 2013-04-19T03:53:18.671Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Hello there, everyone! I am Osiris, and I came here at the request of a friend of mine. I am familiar with Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, and spent some time reading through the articles here. Everythin' here is so interesting! I studied to become a Russian Orthodox Priest in the early nineties, and moved to the USA from the Russian Federation at the beginning of the W. Bush Administration. The change of scenery inspired me, and within the first year, I had become an atheist and learned everything I could about biology, physics, and modern philosophy. Today, I am a philosophy/psychology major at a local college, and work to change the world one little bit at a time.

Though I tend to be a bit of a poet, I hope I can find a place here. In particular, I am interested in thinking of morality and the uses of mythology in daily life.

I value maintaining and increasing diversity, and plan on posting a few things which relate to this as soon as possible. I am curious to see how everyone will react to my style of presentation and beliefs.