Meetup : Fifth Buenos Aires LessWrong meetup 2014-08-04T22:00:08.749Z · score: 1 (2 votes)
[link] Why Psychologists' Food Fight Matters 2014-08-01T07:52:38.604Z · score: 28 (28 votes)
[link] [poll] Future Progress in Artificial Intelligence 2014-07-09T13:51:49.243Z · score: 8 (9 votes)
[link] Nick Beckstead on improving disaster shelters to increase the chances of recovery from a global catastrophe 2014-02-19T17:27:04.303Z · score: 6 (9 votes)
[link] Psychologists strike a blow for reproducibility 2013-11-28T05:26:46.988Z · score: 26 (27 votes)
[Link] "A Long-run Perspective on Strategic Cause Selection and Philanthropy" by Nick Beckstead and Carl Shulman 2013-11-05T18:27:04.851Z · score: 5 (6 votes)
[link] "The Survival of Humanity" 2013-09-14T15:19:37.300Z · score: 1 (6 votes)
[video] "Transhuman", featuring Sandberg and Bostrom 2013-06-16T18:59:57.994Z · score: 6 (9 votes)
[link] Join Wall Street. Save the World 2013-05-31T16:49:23.151Z · score: 23 (26 votes)
[Paper] On the 'Simulation Argument' and Selective Scepticism 2013-05-18T18:31:10.901Z · score: 11 (14 votes)
[Link] 2012 Winter Intelligence Conference videos available 2013-04-29T20:01:45.806Z · score: 7 (10 votes)
[Link] Values Spreading is Often More Important than Extinction Risk 2013-04-07T05:14:44.154Z · score: 11 (20 votes)
Anki decks by LW users 2013-04-02T17:50:16.480Z · score: 28 (28 votes)
[Link] Tomasik's "Quantify with Care" 2013-02-23T13:52:10.309Z · score: 13 (14 votes)
CEV: a utilitarian critique 2013-01-26T16:12:20.846Z · score: 25 (46 votes)
[Link] TEDx talk of Anders Sandberg on the Fermi "paradox" 2013-01-01T20:52:18.972Z · score: 2 (5 votes)
Meetup : Fourth Buenos Aires Less Wrong meetup 2012-12-29T22:47:23.224Z · score: 2 (3 votes)
[link] Interview with Anders Sandberg on how to make a difference through research and how to choose a research topic 2012-12-01T18:25:01.174Z · score: 8 (9 votes)
GiveWell and the Centre for Effective Altruism are recruiting 2012-11-19T23:53:24.535Z · score: 11 (16 votes)
[Link] One in five American adults say they are atheist, agnostic or "nothing in particular" 2012-10-10T23:45:17.260Z · score: 8 (28 votes)
Meetup : Third Buenos Aires Meetup: 2 June 2012 4:00PM 2012-05-26T07:47:09.998Z · score: 1 (2 votes)
Meetup : Buenos Aires meetup: Saturday, February 25th, 4pm 2012-02-17T17:57:06.548Z · score: 2 (3 votes)
Buenos Aires meetup: Saturday, May 14th, 3pm 2011-05-13T21:15:01.081Z · score: 4 (5 votes)


Comment by pablo_stafforini on A practical out-of-the-box solution to slow down COVID-19: Turn up the heat · 2020-03-29T14:34:09.518Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Update: it now appears that Bolsonaro may have tested positive, though the situation is still unclear, at least to me. The main evidence in favor of the hypothesis that the Brazilian president has tested positive, according to this London Review of Books article, is that (1) Fox News claims that this is what his son Eduardo initially told them, that (2) Bolsonaro has refused to make the results of his tests public, and that (3) 25 members of his entourage are confirmed to have the virus.

Note that the article shows some signs of bias, such as calling the impeachment of former president Dilma Rousseff a "coup" and describing Bolsonaro's economic minister as having studied "at the University of Chile under Pinochet" (Pinochet was the president of Chile, not the president of the University of Chile). So I'm updating only slightly and would like to see this confirmed by more neutral sources.

Comment by pablo_stafforini on The case for C19 being widespread · 2020-03-28T14:10:59.227Z · score: 13 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I really appreciate your attempt to summarize this literature. But it seems you still believe that the Oxford paper provides evidence in favor of very low IFR, when in fact others are claiming that this is merely an assumption of their model, and that this assumption was made not because the authors believe it is plausible but simply for exploratory purposes. If this is correct (I haven't myself read the paper, so I can only defer to others), then the reputation or expertise of the authors is evidentially irrelevant, and shouldn't cause you to update in the direction of the very low IFR. (Of course, there may be independent reasons for such an update.)

Comment by pablo_stafforini on The case for C19 being widespread · 2020-03-28T13:26:45.206Z · score: 7 (4 votes) · LW · GW
Many passengers refused to be tested.

That's the Grand Princess, not the Diamond Princess.

Comment by pablo_stafforini on Covid-19 Points of Leverage, Travel Bans and Eradication · 2020-03-21T15:29:19.413Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

What is the lag between infection and feasible detection? Without knowing the answer to this question, I'm skeptical this consideration should suffice to justify indiscriminate travel bans. South Korea has largely contained the outbreak mostly by extensive testing and isolation, and without imposing significant travel bans. And we are assuming a scenario where tests are even more widespread, and deliver results more quickly, than currently in South Korea.

Comment by pablo_stafforini on Covid-19 Points of Leverage, Travel Bans and Eradication · 2020-03-21T15:09:20.313Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW
As we approach the "endgame" where testing is ubiquitous and virus numbers get closer to 0, borders become more important, because adding 500 cases to an area with 1 case is much worse than adding 2000 cases to an area with 1000 cases (you have to think in logarithms).

Why would you want to ban travel indiscriminately once testing has become ubiquitous? You can instead bar entry only to the tiny minority of travelers who test positive.

Comment by pablo_stafforini on When will total cases in the EU surpass that of China? · 2020-03-18T18:11:15.743Z · score: 9 (2 votes) · LW · GW

And 18 or so hours later... Europe surpasses China.

Comment by pablo_stafforini on March Coronavirus Open Thread · 2020-03-18T02:18:14.478Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · LW · GW

The South Korean approach seems to be roughly as effective as the Chinese approach but significantly less costly and disruptive. SK managed to halt exponential growth and currently cases are increasing linearly at a rate of 75 or so per day. This has been achieved without lockdowns or extensive border closings. Instead, the key ingredient appears to be rapid, extensive and largely free testing, and an educational campaign that stresses the importance of hand washing and staying at home.

Comment by pablo_stafforini on When will total cases in the EU surpass that of China? · 2020-03-17T17:15:15.620Z · score: 9 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Over the past few days, cases in Europe have been doubling every four days, while cases in China have been increasing linearly, at a rate of 25 cases or so per day. There are currently around 71k cumulative cases in Europe, and 81k cumulative cases in China. So we should expect Europe to surpass China in 18 hours or so.

Comment by pablo_stafforini on March Coronavirus Open Thread · 2020-03-15T18:34:06.797Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks for putting this list together.

I stopped looking after Bucky supplied the link to the MIDAS network list, since it seemed so comprehensive.

For models that incorporate actual healthcare capacity, see this thread. One limitation of the models I've seen is that they fail to account for growth in such capacity. China responded to the realization that they didn't have enough hospitals by quickly building more hospitals. Maybe Western countries are less competent than China and it will take them longer to build the needed capacity. But it seems implausible that they will be so incompetent that capacity-building efforts will not make a significant difference.

Comment by pablo_stafforini on A practical out-of-the-box solution to slow down COVID-19: Turn up the heat · 2020-03-14T17:51:44.442Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

My understanding is that he never tested positive; rather, it was reported that he tested positive, and then that he tested negative. (The link you provide says otherwise, but Telesur is not a reliable source.)

Comment by pablo_stafforini on A practical out-of-the-box solution to slow down COVID-19: Turn up the heat · 2020-03-14T13:19:28.416Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Note that Bolsonaro does not have the virus.

Comment by pablo_stafforini on March Coronavirus Open Thread · 2020-03-12T23:05:25.858Z · score: 41 (14 votes) · LW · GW

Update: the positions are now filled. See here for the official announcement.

Help wanted: project lead

The high interest and proliferation of questions on the novel coronavirus calls for dedicated attention, which led to the formation of Managing it, though, is straining Metaculus's very limited staff and community moderator team. Contingent on acquisition of funding (which Metaculus is working to secure), Metaculus is looking to bring onboard someone to help manage this project. Components would include:

  • Managing the pandemic site and question series as a sort of "editor in chief" working with the community moderators (as Tamay does now for Metaculus in general.)
  • Helping build data products and analyses out of the questions and results.

The above indicates a range of skills including pretty strong understanding of Metaculus, and data analysis capability. Science background would be great, and huge bonus for actual medical knowledge. This is probably a part-time role but full-ish time is also imaginable depending upon the person, the duration, and funding.

If you're interested, please send a note and CV to

Comment by pablo_stafforini on March Coronavirus Open Thread · 2020-03-11T14:53:48.934Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Another basic SIR model, which considers impacts on hospital capacity (and resulting deaths) from infection controls of various degrees.

Comment by pablo_stafforini on March Coronavirus Open Thread · 2020-03-11T14:47:10.620Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Wonderful, thank you so much.

Comment by pablo_stafforini on March Coronavirus Open Thread · 2020-03-10T00:05:00.848Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Buck's tentative Guesstimate model of Wei Dai's "hospital crowding" catastrophic scenario. Many folks have already seen his comment, but I'm posting a link to it for completeness.

Comment by pablo_stafforini on March Coronavirus Open Thread · 2020-03-10T00:02:25.020Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Daniel Filan's Guesstimate model on whether he should stay home for work. Many folks have already seen his comment, but I'm posting a link to it for completeness.

Comment by pablo_stafforini on March Coronavirus Open Thread · 2020-03-09T13:37:35.782Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The Medium article that Wei Dai cited in his comment links to an "open-source model". I haven't examined it closely, though I did notice that some of the formulas are weirdly constructed (e.g. using INDIRECT rather than absolute cell references) and that some of the assumed parameters are overly pessimistic (e.g. a 3.4% CFR).

Comment by pablo_stafforini on March Coronavirus Open Thread · 2020-03-09T01:55:45.686Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Here's a basic SIR model created by Metaculus user Isinlor. (I haven't looked at it, so don't interpret this comment as an endorsement.)

Comment by pablo_stafforini on March Coronavirus Open Thread · 2020-03-09T01:22:16.306Z · score: 30 (14 votes) · LW · GW

I think it would be valuable to compile a list of estimates of basic epidemiological parameters of the coronavirus, such as incubation rate, doubling times, probability of symptomatic infections, delay from disease onset to death, probability of death among symptomatics, and so on. I find that my inability to model various scenarios accurately is often due to uncertainty about one or more of these parameters (uncertainty relative to what I suspect current expert knowledge to be, which is of course also uncertain to a considerable degree).

Comment by pablo_stafforini on Ineffective Response to COVID-19 and Risk Compensation · 2020-03-09T00:16:38.848Z · score: 10 (3 votes) · LW · GW
I've seen a marked uptick in people actually washing hands thoroughly in bathrooms, which is small-n observation but I found very surprising.

To add another anecdote, Tyler Cowen also noticed this.

Comment by pablo_stafforini on Rescuing the Extropy Magazine archives · 2020-02-20T23:06:23.833Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Nine months ago PhilGoetz offered to send you all the missing issues except number 2. However, I don't see those issues on the H+pedia entry. Would it be possible for you guys to communicate so that this material becomes publicly accessible? Thanks.

Edit: I realized I can edit the H+pedia and host the files on my website, so I just messaged Phil myself. Waiting for his reply.

Comment by pablo_stafforini on Does anyone have a recommended resource about the research on behavioral conditioning, reinforcement, and shaping? · 2020-02-19T13:27:37.319Z · score: 9 (3 votes) · LW · GW

One book I've seen mentioned is Stephen Ray Flora's The power of reinforcement. I read it a decade or so ago, and although my memory of it isn't fresh, I remember not being too impressed by it. In particular, the book struck me as being written from the perspective of an apologist of reinforcement rather than a neutral, curious observer. Still, the book surveys the field in some detail and I think one could learn quite a bit from reading it.

Luke Muehlhauser wrote a post summarizing the literature, which provides lots of references for further reading.

Incidentally (and this isn't an answer to your question, but a comment on the post you mention), I would take any self-experimentation findings by Seth Roberts with a big grain of salt. Gwern summarizes:

n=1 self-experiments aren't that bad. The problem is, to speak a bit ill of the dead, Roberts systematically rejected randomization, blinding, appropriate statistical analysis, ignored power, published only anecdotes that supported his views, and wasn't interested in fixing any of these problems even when they were very cheap to add (and he was well aware of the endless shortcuts he was taking - though he never criticized his own work the way he was able to criticize, say, Posit Science's brain-game studies). When I did better self-experiments, I often reached different results.
Comment by pablo_stafforini on Some quick notes on hand hygiene · 2020-02-08T23:17:38.375Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · LW · GW


Comment by pablo_stafforini on Some quick notes on hand hygiene · 2020-02-06T12:34:24.877Z · score: 13 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I agree. It is very common for field experts and authorities to issue directives without considering the associated time costs, especially when these costs are small when measured relative to the relevant behavioral unit (e.g. 30 seconds per hand washing). If you consider each directive individually, it often seems that the benefits justify the costs. But when both costs and benefits are aggregated over time, a different, more pessimistic picture often emerges. I wash my hands ~10 times per day, and so invest ~30 hours per year on this habit. Is this sacrifice worth it? It isn't obvious to me that it is.

I am reminded of that satirical post where Rob Wiblin describes his "daily routine for maximum productivity", comprised of dozens of activities many of which seem individually worth doing. Clearly, however, the routine as a whole is a net waste of time, since it would require a large fraction of the day to complete, thereby decreasing productivity overall. This suggests that our "micro intuitions" aren't very reliable, and that we should check them by considering the big picture.

Comment by pablo_stafforini on The Bentham Prize at Metaculus · 2020-02-04T13:30:46.064Z · score: 10 (6 votes) · LW · GW

First round of prizes announced. Congratulations to user haven and to our very own AABoyles and PeterHurford!

Comment by pablo_stafforini on My Anki patterns · 2020-01-08T23:13:33.380Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks. ~6 s per card seems faster than average, judging from other user reports I've seen (e.g. here). It appears that Wozniak's formula underestimates time costs, which is also in line with Gwern's remarks here.

Comment by pablo_stafforini on New Year's Predictions Thread · 2019-12-31T19:22:06.325Z · score: 7 (3 votes) · LW · GW

As far as I can tell, every single one of your predictions has now been falsified by reality.

Comment by pablo_stafforini on My Anki patterns · 2019-12-03T14:57:30.687Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

In case anyone is interested, here's a spreadsheet I just created that computes the daily costs, after arbitrarily many years, of reviewing a deck which has been growing by a constant number of cards per year.

An interesting implication is that after three years one has incurred roughly 50% of the total time costs of reviewing a card, assuming a time horizon of 50 years. So if Michal keeps adding new cards at the same pace, his daily costs will converge to minutes. Still, it will take another 12 years for the costs to increase by another 50%, so even after 15 years his daily costs will be minutes.

Comment by pablo_stafforini on My Anki patterns · 2019-12-03T13:27:37.723Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Great post!

You say you've been using Anki for ~3 years and have 37k cards. Assuming you've been adding cards at a roughly constant rate over this period, that's ~12.3k cards per year, or ~34 cards per day. Relying on Piotr Wozniak's formula for approximating the daily time costs of studying a single card in a given year

we can see that it costs 2.03E-03 mins to study a card the 1st year, 7.40E-04 mins the 2nd year, and 4.18E-04 mins the 3rd year. Multiplying by 12.3k, we get about 25, 9 and 5 minutes for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd years, respectively. So, on your 3rd (most recent) year of study, this calculation indicates that you should be spending about minutes per day in reviews. Does this match your experience?

I was motivated to calculate this because upon reading your post I felt that reviewing so many cards would impose very high time costs. But after crunching the numbers, the costs seem considerably lower than I expected.

Comment by pablo_stafforini on RAISE post-mortem · 2019-11-25T14:31:40.116Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW
I had visited Berkeley around that time, and word was out about a new prediction that the singularity was only 15 years ahead.

Can you say more about this?

Comment by pablo_stafforini on RAISE post-mortem · 2019-11-25T14:28:45.608Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW
I've been collecting a list of postmortem/retrospective posts on LessWrong

Is this list publicly available? A search for 'postmortems' on your user page produced no results.

Comment by pablo_stafforini on Normative reductionism · 2019-11-06T00:44:12.083Z · score: 5 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Actually, re-reading the post I think that by 'parts' you didn't necessarily mean 'temporal parts'. In particular, your example of Alice suggests that in that case, the 'parts' in question are 'people'. Broome has a parallel view to 'separability of times', called 'separability of lives' and discussed in ch. 8 of Weighing Lives, which corresponds to this use of 'parts'.

Comment by pablo_stafforini on Normative reductionism · 2019-11-06T00:36:20.869Z · score: 5 (2 votes) · LW · GW

John Broome calls this view 'separability of times' in Weighing Lives, ch. 7.

(Pedantic quibble: the reductionist thesis you define can't claim that the value of a world history is equal to the value of its parts; it should claim that the value of a world history is equal to the sum of the value of its parts—or, if you don't want to commit to additivity, that it is a function of the value of its parts.)

Comment by pablo_stafforini on How feasible is long-range forecasting? · 2019-10-12T12:12:52.715Z · score: 8 (4 votes) · LW · GW

John Maxwell makes a couple of good points in a comment about the linked post on the EA Forum:

I'd be interested to know how people think long-range forecasting is likely to differ from short-range forecasting, and to what degree we can apply findings from short-range forecasting to long-range forecasting. Could it be possible to, for example, ask forecasters to forecast at a variety of short-range timescales, fit a curve to their accuracy as a function of time (or otherwise try to mathematically model the "half-life" of the knowledge powering the forecast--I don't know what methodologies could be useful here, maybe survival analysis?) and extrapolate this model to long-range timescales?
I'm also curious why there isn't more interest in presenting people with historical scenarios and asking them to forecast what will happen next in the historical scenario. Obviously if they already know about that period of history this won't work, but that seems possible to overcome.

Does anyone know of examples in the academic literature of "retrodictions" being used to assess forecasting accuracy?

Comment by pablo_stafforini on Daniel Kokotajlo's Shortform · 2019-10-08T19:34:46.067Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I love the idea. Some questions and their associated resolution dates may be of interest to the wider community of forecasters, so you could post them to Metaculus. Otherwise you could perhaps persuade the Metaculus admins to create a subforum, similar to, for the other questions to be posted. Since Metaculus already has the subforum functionality, it seems a good idea to extend it in this way (perhaps a user's subforum could be associated with the corresponding username: e.g. user kokotajlo can post his own questions at

Comment by pablo_stafforini on Evidence for Connection Theory · 2019-09-19T20:51:17.596Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Ah! I interpreted your 'Edit note' as replacing the original comment and noting that its contents had been turned into a post. In other words, I didn't understand you were referring to Evan's post, but thought instead that the comment was self-referential. Maybe 'Admin note' is more appropriate for these comments? In any case, not very important.

Comment by pablo_stafforini on Evidence for Connection Theory · 2019-09-19T16:03:52.585Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

[Writing this four months after habryka's comment was published.] I'm confused. I don't see any 'chain link', other than the usual permalink between the timestamp and the karma score. Evan did say that the icon was very small, but at least on my computer, the icon is not merely hard to see—it's invisible.

I'm mentioning this primarily because it's potential evidence of a bug in the code, which the admins may want to fix. But I'm also personally interested in the post to which the original comment refers.

Comment by pablo_stafforini on Boring Advice Repository · 2019-09-19T15:54:01.789Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

See here.

Comment by pablo_stafforini on Does anyone know of a good overview of what humans know about depression? · 2019-09-01T06:45:26.496Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Ch. 14 of Marco del Giudice's Evolutionary Psychopathology.

Comment by pablo_stafforini on Modeling AI milestones to adjust AGI arrival estimates? · 2019-07-31T08:00:18.401Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

You may want to check out the Metaculus AI milestones timeline.

Comment by pablo_stafforini on Understanding information cascades · 2019-03-25T03:51:34.739Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I only read the AI Impacts article that includes that quote, not the data to which the quote alludes. Maybe ask the author?

Comment by pablo_stafforini on Understanding information cascades · 2019-03-19T14:41:16.616Z · score: 12 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Two recent articles that review the existing economic literature on information cascades:

  • Sushil Bikhchandani, David Hirshleifer and Ivo Welch, Information cascades, The new Palgrave dictionary of economics (Macmillan, 2018), pp. 6492-6500.
  • Oksana Doherty, Informational cascades in financial markets: review and synthesis, Review of behavioral finance, vol. 10, no. 1 (2018), pp. 53-69.
  • An earlier review:

  • Maria Grazia Romano, Informational cascades in financial economics: a review, Giornale degli Economisti e Annali di Economia, vol. 68, no. 1 (2009), pp. 81-109.
  • Comment by pablo_stafforini on Understanding information cascades · 2019-03-19T14:17:30.687Z · score: 14 (4 votes) · LW · GW

    Information Cascades in Multi-Agent Models by Arthur De Vany & Cassey Lee has a section with a useful summary of the relevant economic literature up to 1999. (For more recent overviews, see my other comment.) I copy it below, with links to the works cited (with the exception of Chen (1978) and Lee (1999), both unpublished doctoral dissertations, and De Vany and Walls (1999b), an unpublished working paper):

    A seminal paper by Bikhchandani et al (1992) explains the conformity and fragility of mass behavior in terms of informational cascades. In a closely related paper Banerjee (1992) models optimizing agents who engage in herd behavior which results in an inefficient equilibrium. Anderson and Holt (1997) are able to induce information cascades in a laboratory setting by implementing a version of Bikhchandani et al (1992) model.
    The second strand of literature examines the relationship between information cascades and large fluctuations. Lee (1998) shows how failures in information aggregation in a security market under sequential trading result in market volatility. Lee advances the notion of “informational avalanches” which occurs when hidden information (e.g. quality) is revealed during an informational cascade thus reversing the direction of information cascades.
    The third strand explores the link between information cascades and heavy tailed distributions. Cont and Bouchaud (1998) put forward a model with random groups of imitators that gives rise to stock price variations that are heavy-tailed distributed. De Vany and Walls (1996) use a Bose-Einstein allocation model to model the box office revenue distribution in the motion picture industry. The authors describe how supply adapts dynamically to an evolving demand that is driven by an information cascade (via word-of-mouth) and show that the distribution converges to a Pareto-Lévy distribution. The ability of the Bose-Einstein allocation model to generate the Pareto size distribution of rank and revenue has been proven by Hill (1974) and Chen (1978). De Vany and Walls (1996) present empirical evidence that the size distribution of box office revenues is Pareto. Subsequent work by Walls (1997), De Vany and Walls (1999a), and Lee (1999) has verified this finding for other markets, periods and larger data sets. De Vany and Walls (1999a) show that the tail weight parameter of the Pareto-Levy distribution implies that the second moment may not be finite. Lastly, De Vany and Walls (1999b) have shown that motion picture information cascades begin as action-based, noninformative cascades, but undergo a transition to an informative cascade after enough people have seen it to exchange “word of mouth” information. At the point of transition from an uninformed to an informed cascade, there is loss of correlation and an onset of turbulence, followed by a recovery of week to week correlation among high quality movies.
    Comment by pablo_stafforini on Understanding information cascades · 2019-03-19T13:29:20.242Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW
    Information cascades does not seem to be the best choice of keywords.

    I wouldn't say that 'information cascades' isn't the best choice of keywords. What's happening here is that the same phenomenon is studied by different disciplines in relative isolation from each other. As a consequence, the phenomenon is discussed under different names, depending on the discipline studying it. 'Information cascades' (or, as it is sometimes spelled, 'informational cascades') is the name used in economics, while network science seems to use a variety of related expressions, such as the one you mention.

    Comment by pablo_stafforini on Understanding information cascades · 2019-03-15T19:35:39.640Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

    Thanks, Oli!

    Comment by pablo_stafforini on Understanding information cascades · 2019-03-15T16:28:16.427Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

    [meta] Not sure why the link to the overview isn't working. Here's how the comment looks before I submit it:

    (The same problem is affecting this comment.)

    In any case, the URL is:

    Comment by pablo_stafforini on Understanding information cascades · 2019-03-15T16:20:13.254Z · score: 11 (4 votes) · LW · GW

    Thanks for this.

    Re extremizing, the recent (excellent) AI Impacts overview of good forecasting practices notes that "more recent data suggests that the successes of the extremizing algorithm during the forecasting tournament were a fluke."

    Comment by pablo_stafforini on Unconscious Economics · 2019-03-01T17:52:56.872Z · score: 13 (4 votes) · LW · GW
    Here’s an insight I had about how incentives work in practice, that I’ve not seen explained in an econ textbook/course.
    There are at least three ways in which incentives affect behaviour: 1) via consciously motivating agents, 2) via unconsciously reinforcing certain behaviour, and 3) via selection effects. I think perhaps 2) and probably 3) are more important, but much less talked about.

    Jon Elster distinguishes these three different ways in Explaining Social Behavior. He first draws a distinction between 1-2 ("reinforcement") on the one hand, and 3 ("selection"), on the other. He then draws a further distinction between 1 ("conscious rational choice") and 2 ("unintentional choice"). Here are the relevant excerpts from ch. 11 (emphasis in the original; I have added numbers in square brackets to make the correspondence between your distinctions and his more conspicuous):

    In this chapter, I discuss explanations of actions in terms of their objective consequences... There are two main ways in which this can happen: by reinforcement [1-2] and by selection [3]... If the consequences of given behavior are pleasant or rewarding, we tend to engage in it more often; if they are unpleasant or punishing it will occur less often. The underlying mechanism could simply be conscious rational choice [1], if we notice the pleasant or unpleasant consequences and decide to act in the future so as to repeat or avoid repeating the experience. Often, however, the reinforcement can happen without intentional choice [2].
    Comment by pablo_stafforini on Minimize Use of Standard Internet Food Delivery · 2019-02-23T11:41:15.977Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

    In game theory, the costs and benefits in terms of which defection is defined occur in a well-defined context of strategic interaction. My objection was to the use of defection in a way that implied that the situation described in the post had a particular game-theoretic structure, when in fact no clear account was given of what that structure was supposed to be.

    Comment by pablo_stafforini on What's your favorite LessWrong post? · 2019-02-22T11:48:42.562Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

    Feed the Spinoff Heuristic!