Comment by pattern on Counterfactuals about Social Media · 2019-04-23T01:14:53.217Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think part of the question is:

1. Do you produce/distribute content via those sites?

2. What are they for? Are you killing off alternatives/not developing things in that vein yourself? Because you use them?

If someone wants to explain/convince me that this is highly dangerous to me in a non-obvious way or that **my kind** of usage is endangering the commons I'm open to hear it.

Perhaps: Facebook uses what it gains from you (money from ads?) to fight their 'better alternatives' (BA), such as via government lobbying, as well as via the normal channels (you're using them instead of their competitors (this has the clear side effect that FB is more DOS resistant than BAs).

Comment by pattern on Username change and event page editing · 2019-04-19T21:51:02.341Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

No, so I checked to see if it's still an issue before doing so, and it isn't.

Comment by pattern on Highlights from "Integral Spirituality" · 2019-04-19T21:43:04.720Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

1) The audience. 2) The presentation.

Comment by pattern on Username change and event page editing · 2019-04-19T21:00:29.890Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Is this why lesswrong doesn't work on firefox? (Voting specifically.)

Comment by pattern on Liar Paradox Revisited · 2019-04-18T22:45:12.077Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW
The truth value of this sentence is not INFINITE-LOOP

Can't this sentence be assigned the value of "True"? If you have those 3 possible assignments (and there is no additional "unknown" value that may be assigned) then the sentences may be true or false or "infinite loop". If it were infinite loop then it would be false. If it were false then it would be infinite loop. But if it is true, then (since true isn't infinite loop) it is true.

Comment by pattern on Liar Paradox Revisited · 2019-04-18T22:41:19.000Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW
In any case, the way that we extend the concept of truth to apply to these degenerate cases is purely up to what we find convenient. Obviously

How does this last sentence end?

Comment by pattern on Experimental Open Thread April 2019: Socratic method · 2019-04-15T23:32:31.611Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

How else does one know how complicated a problem is (if one hasn't solved it)?

Comment by pattern on Highlights from "Integral Spirituality" · 2019-04-15T21:40:39.438Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW
I fail completely to see what part of reality they make manageable.

I think the frameworks built on earlier work, and this review is not intended as a basic introduction (which would include the motivation/benefit).

Comment by pattern on Highlights from "Integral Spirituality" · 2019-04-15T21:37:34.528Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW
the motivation for using simplistic schemes for things, like this color wheel example.

I think the purpose* is to make it memorable/easy to teach. Someone who employs it might say they're following the 80/20 rule. If you're teaching, starting with a simple model is one approach - and not everyone is interested in more details (whether or not you have them). The main advantage (specific to this case) is that by coming up with stages being colors means you can classify other things by stage and use color as an adjective in the same way. Color wheel might be the wrong word - if you go all the way along a wheel, you're back where you started. Whereas if you progress in the "red"/"blue" direction, eventually you leave the visible colors for the invisible (eventually stopping at radio waves/gamma radiation).

*It is also possible that things which have such traits (simple models like color wheels) become more popular/successful. I am not sure whether or not self help books are an intentional paradigm, or if the authors like it so they use it.

Comment by pattern on Is reality warping theoretically possible ? · 2019-04-11T19:05:56.336Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The title (reality warping) initially made it seem like this was about something like the Alcubierre drive.

Comment by pattern on The AI alignment problem as a consequence of the recursive nature of plans · 2019-04-10T04:32:31.362Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Additionally, there may exist sets of goals that if pursued together, one is more likely to achieve all of them, than if any one (or any subset less than the whole) were pursued alone. (To put it a different way, it is possible to work on different things that give you ideas for each other, that you wouldn't have had if you had been working on only one/a subset of them.)

Comment by pattern on Value Learning is only Asymptotically Safe · 2019-04-10T04:27:17.429Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The claim was that, if there exists a bit, such that if that bit was struck by a cosmic ray, then for an agent which would be "safe" in a universe without cosmic rays, would become "unsafe" then, as cosmic rays exist, no agent may be "safe" with "probability 1", as that would require it to not be stuck by cosmic rays with "probability 1".

They're saying we can't be sure it won't be hit by cosmic rays. This was meant not as a worry about cosmic rays, but to say they were interested in how you go about making "safe* agent/s" in a universe without inconvenient things like cosmic rays which keep the probability from being 1, but are otherwise unrelated to the work of making "safe agent/s".

*Might be talking about things other than "safety" as well.

Comment by pattern on Plans are Recursive & Why This is Important · 2019-04-08T17:26:32.401Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW
The brain really can't handle very many levels of recursion
Nature never (or hardly ever) implements true recursion as it always stops after a few levels.

Do you have a source for these? (a book on neuroscience, a picture of simple animal brains, etc.)

Comment by pattern on [Spoilers] How did Voldemort learn the horcrux spell? · 2019-04-08T17:05:06.817Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The Interdict isn't depicted in the series - with a few possible exceptions - if a wizard casts a spell with "incomprehensible words" that might be it. (For some reason it doesn't seem to apply to sufficiently basic magic spells - most of the magic that's been retained might fall into this category though.) What follows is thus speculation:

Yes, wizards can invent spells. The Interdict is like a spell that prevents you from reading people's notes on their new spells, or hearing the words (possibly without their permission). It prevent knowledge transmission (but not generation) via "non-living mediums". And possibly, unintentional verbal transmission, but not intentional.

Comment by pattern on Value Learning is only Asymptotically Safe · 2019-04-08T16:32:53.625Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW
is there anything to aim for that is stronger than asymptotic safety?

Faster convergence?

Comment by pattern on Experimental Open Thread April 2019: Socratic method · 2019-04-06T04:38:41.167Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

What defines a ravioli?

Comment by pattern on Experimental Open Thread April 2019: Socratic method · 2019-04-06T04:38:08.493Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

So you're less likely to work on a problem if you think it has been given a lot of high quality attention/you don't think you have a comparative advantage?

Comment by pattern on Experimental Open Thread April 2019: Socratic method · 2019-04-06T04:31:51.688Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Because you don't believe territory "exists" or because it's simpler to not model it twice - once on a map, once outside?

Comment by pattern on Experimental Open Thread April 2019: Socratic method · 2019-04-06T04:27:55.876Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

This was surprising; in this context I had thought "useful" meant 'helps one achieve one's goals', rather than being short for "useful for making predictions".

Comment by pattern on Experimental Open Thread April 2019: Socratic method · 2019-04-06T04:21:59.174Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

My view of its capabilities certainly dropped.

Comment by pattern on Experimental Open Thread April 2019: Socratic method · 2019-04-06T04:16:49.747Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Possible uses:

1. Passing tests - in a geometry class, taking the ACT, (I don't know, maybe it's a part of getting a GED).

2. Your interest in geometry is not merely theoretical, but practical. Maybe you construct things, perhaps out of wood using power tools. (You may find it useful to design/implement a coordinate system on a piece of wood to assist with getting the dimensions of things right, as you cut them out with a saw. Someone may have already invented this.) If you are trying to find the area under a curve, you may find it useful to buy very fine, high quality paper, graph the shape of the curve, and weight it, and use the average wight of the paper per inch or centimeter (squared) to find the answer. (This relies of the material being consistent through out, and weighing about the same everywhere.)

3. Despite your claims that you would never use math, or this part of math, someday you find yourself* designing a dome, or even a half sphere, perhaps as a place to live. The floor plan is a circle.

4. You enjoy math. You enjoy learning this/using this knowledge on puzzles to challenge your wits. (See 6)

5. You end up as a teacher, assistant, or tutor. The subject is math. (Perhaps you realize that not every geometry student that will one day teach geometry is aware of this fact.) Whether or not you learned all the fancy stuff the first time, if you didn't retain it you have to learn it again - well enough to teach it to someone that doesn't like the subject as much as you - and you hated geometry (class). (It was required.)

6. You learn visual calculus. Other mathematicians may compose long, elaborate arguments that they publish in papers that may take days to decipher (that seem to push the world ever closer to proofs people can't read, but computers have apparently checked - or been used to produce). Perhaps your proofs employ no words, but consist of a picture instead, that employs esoteric knowledge (such as that of tangents and chords) to solves problems beautifully (and quickly). Perhaps this profound knowledge makes you both a better mathematician, and a better teacher of math.

In summary:

It's arbitrary, but it's part of the curriculum that's tested on. (However students or teachers feel about it.)

You use the knowledge - specifically*, or generally**.

You enjoy learning, or a challenge.


"Higher math." (You can see more up here, but the air is thinner. You feel kind of dizzy.)

*Your life has turned into a geometry problem. Is this hell?

**The square-cube law is general and useful. I think the second property is a result of the first.

Comment by pattern on March 2019 newsletter · 2019-04-05T04:14:19.714Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I realized there'd been changes I didn't like when I looked at this newsletter. It seemed more "in your face", but aside from a) different font size, b) different formatting, c) different font, I couldn't put my finger on it.

I wasn't sure what it was until I looked at an old article, and a old newsletter side by side with what it used to look like. Text used to be smaller* and on the right* (instead of in the middle). Headings within a piece are grey instead of black, and maybe a different font. The body of the text also seems more grey** (although that could be the size). Things also seem longer (now) - and not just a result of increased size, which is weird because moving things to the left shouldn't (intuitively) shrink the margins, so I guess the margins used to be bigger*.


**There's a difference between how text looks, and text with links (which is especially apparent with newsletters). The increased text size made this really pronounced.


Additionally, I was also struck by the differences when I looked at "The Gift of the Amygdali". My taste in formatting (here*) seems to be more minimalistic, and smaller text, which is right justified, with larger margins (which both have the effect of not spreading longer sentences across more lines).

That said, I don't know if I'm a typical reader of your blog (I understand you've been doing A/B testing or something), I also read Wikipedia a fair amount (though I like your blog more because of the consistent, high quality).

*With regards to your site. (Other sites mostly have different styles.)

Comment by pattern on LW Update 2019-04-02 – Frontpage Rework · 2019-04-05T01:34:20.325Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

What about a Sequence? It's a collection of related posts.

Comment by pattern on Degrees of Freedom · 2019-04-04T23:34:17.401Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW
Total indifference between all options makes optimization impossible or vacuous. An optimization criterion which assigns a total ordering between all possibilities makes indifference vanishingly rare. So these notions are dual in a sense.

This gap may be bridged by measuring the difference in value/expected value of 2 actions given a utility function. In order to find the exact utility of an action, we must invest the time necessary to calculate it, and acquire the information necessary to so. In order to make the best decision (given a set of decisions), we need only work out the ordering on actions (their relative utility). However, the value in determining the optimal action is based on the difference between the utility of the actions. If there are 2 routes between A and B, and both of them take about 5 minutes, then investing the time to work out exactly how long they take (a la the distance) may not be worth it - ever*, or until we have optimized all the parts of our lives where more utility is at stake. (*The cost of optimizing may exceed the gain. This is an issue we don't expect to run into if we haven't optimized anything.)

You can get around this ambiguity in a political context by distinguishing natural from social barriers, but that’s not a particularly principled distinction.

Suppose, where you live, not smoking was made illegal, and all who do not do it, pay a tax of $10 per day. Intuitively, this seems very different from being unable to go to the moon, or do 1000 push ups.

Another issue with freedom-as-optimization is that it’s compatible with quite tightly constrained behavior, in a way that’s not consistent with our primitive intuitions about freedom. 

Perhaps freedom is the freedom to optimize (as you see fit).

We have discretion that enables corruption and special privileges in cases that pretty much nobody would claim to be ideal — rich parents buying their not-so-competent children Ivy League admissions, favored corporations voting themselves government subsidies. 

Woah, the first of those might be considered to be really efficient - the colleges don't usually get that much money from a student. If a student "isn't competent" but the college gets ample compensation, it's unclear who is being harmed. (Also, people were surprised by this? I was surprised by the amount of money involved.) The second one is redirecting taxpayers' dollars - as opposed to rich people spending their money how they please.

The rationale being, that being highly optimized at some widely appreciated metric — being very intelligent, or very efficient, or something like that — is often less valuable than being creative,

I think creativity is a widely appreciated metric, as evidenced by it being used as part of an argument here. It's not clear how optimizing creativity would be bad. (To argue against optimization on the grounds that these things A are good to optimize, but not as good as these things B, is not an argument against optimization, but an argument for optimizing B rather than A.)

universal basic income, open borders, income-sharing agreements, or smart contracts
These are legibilizing policies that
allow little scope for discretion, so they don’t let policymakers give illegible rewards to allies and punishments to enemies. 
They reduce the scope of the “political”, i.e. that which is negotiated at the personal or group level, and replace it with an impersonal set of rules within which individuals are “free to choose” but not very “free to behave arbitrarily” since their actions are transparent and they must bear the costs of being in full view.

The last sentence frames things differently than the sentences before it - costs being added, instead of a loss of power. It's also not clear how, say, universal basic income makes people less free to choose.

“If you make everything explicit, you’ll dumb everything in the world down to what the stupidest and most truculent members of the public will accept.

Our legal system begs to differ - who has read the whole of that edifice? And who would claim that all citizens have read it? (And that it could not be improved through simplification?)

A related notion: wanting to join discussions is a sign of expecting a more cooperative world, while trying to keep people from joining your (private or illegible) communications is a sign of expecting a more adversarial world.

This made sense to me in a way that the dichotomy before it did not (the mapping between "you would/wouldn't understand" and "optimization"/"illegibility").

The basic argument for optimization over arbitrariness is that it creates growth and value while arbitrariness creates stagnation.

This makes it sound like the disagreement is over who gets to optimize/where optimization happens. In leaders/implementation or in rule makers/rules.

Sufficiently advanced cynicism is indistinguishable from malice and stupidity.

Stupidity is indistinguishable from lack of information?

it’s totally unnecessary to reject logic and justice in order to object to killing innocents. 

One need only say "life should be preserved." (See below.)

Not everything people call reason, logic, justice, or optimization, is in fact reasonable, logical, just, or optimal; so, a person needs some defenses against those claims of superiority. 

Logic does not provide the direction, it only tells you where a direction goes.

Comment by pattern on Ideas ahead of their time · 2019-04-04T22:55:48.718Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

There's a theory called IIT which Scott Aaronson rejected because he didn't think "every time you start up your DVD player you’re lighting the fire of consciousness."

Comment by pattern on Ideas ahead of their time · 2019-04-04T22:46:17.433Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW
completely misses the mark
would benefit from a read of

I didn't read it as a piece making a claim, but as a question, which you answered with a link/phrase.

Comment by pattern on Ideas ahead of their time · 2019-04-04T22:43:36.998Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Some things are dismissed as crank because of assumptions people make. Like "there's no way stars could be that far away!"

Comment by pattern on [HPMOR] "the Headmaster set fire to a chicken!" · 2019-04-04T22:31:36.745Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW
why its better to burn alive "fake"(but alive!) chicken then "real" chicken?!

Because burning it doesn't produce carcinogens - by authorial fiat. (I don't think Dumbledore transfigured a chicken because burning it was more moral than burning a "real" chicken - just more convenient. It also might make for an interesting transfiguration experiment - if you turn paper into a chicken and burn the chicken, does the the burnt chicken turn back into paper? A whole sheet, or shredded? Burnt? What happens was never made clear, and Dumbledore used to experiment with Transfiguration, but doesn't have as much time for that anymore.)

Comment by pattern on What are the advantages and disadvantages of knowing your own IQ? · 2019-04-04T22:30:59.448Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW
For example: Can tracking IQ be useful to track cognitive degradation and predict neurodegenerative diseases?

On SSC, someone claimed it helped show that lead poisoning was a problem.

Comment by pattern on March 2019 newsletter · 2019-04-04T00:03:51.855Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I prefer how the site used to look.

Comment by pattern on Experimental Open Thread April 2019: Socratic method · 2019-04-01T16:37:26.988Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

What do you mean by circle geometry?

Comment by pattern on Parable of the flooding mountain range · 2019-03-31T22:22:41.851Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The environment may change over time, but 1) mountains change slowly, and 2) that's what brains are for. Even if "evolution doesn't pick up on it", how much will the height of a mountain (and which mountain is the tallest) naturally change over the course of your lifetime?

Comment by pattern on Dependability · 2019-03-28T00:02:53.448Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW
It's wrong to say that "school teaches it", but it's also wrong to imply that school is irrelevant in teaching it.

I'd go with "school should (be a part of) teaching it".

Comment by pattern on Did the recent blackmail discussion change your beliefs? · 2019-03-26T16:09:31.008Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

A possibility I didn't see discussed:

Person A is blackmailed by person B, with blackmail material P.

Person A can respond not only by

1) going public about B's threat to reveal P, and what B tried to blackmail A to do, but can also*

2) release P, and thereby push society towards different norms/standards, where P and materials like it are not blackmail material.


(The idea behind option 2 comes from an article calling for Jeff Bezos to go with option 2, in regards to him recently being blackmailed by the National Enquirer.)

Comment by pattern on Can a Bayesian agent be infinitely confused? · 2019-03-25T03:24:43.227Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The point goes both ways - following Bayes' rule means not being able to update away from 100%, but the reverse is likely as well - unless there exists for every hypothesis, not only evidence against it, but also evidence that completely disproves it, there isn't evidence that if agent B observes, they will ascribe anything 100% or 0% probability (if they didn't start out that way).

So a Bayesian agent can't become infinitely confused unless they obtain infinite knowledge, or have bad priors. (One may simulate a Bayesian with bad priors.)

Comment by pattern on Ask LW: Have you read Yudkowsky's AI to Zombie book? · 2019-03-19T18:35:05.633Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW
I had learned it academically from undergrad and grad-level texts,

Any you'd recommend?

Comment by pattern on Ask LW: Have you read Yudkowsky's AI to Zombie book? · 2019-03-19T18:33:46.485Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The library setup today helps a little with reflecting that there's more than one sequence, by more than one person.

Comment by pattern on Ask LW: Have you read Yudkowsky's AI to Zombie book? · 2019-03-18T21:54:33.547Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I've read the Sequences and I'm almost finished with listening to the audiobook version of the book as well. (On account of how big they are, I didn't know I had read them all, until I listened to it and I said, wait, I've heard all of this. (And my responses to surveys reflected this.))

Comment by pattern on What societies have ever had legal or accepted blackmail? · 2019-03-18T21:50:54.385Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

So much of what?

Comment by pattern on How to Understand and Mitigate Risk · 2019-03-15T16:33:38.237Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Are you familiar with derivatives, and the properties of logarithms?

Comment by pattern on LW Update 2019-03-12 -- Bugfixes, small features · 2019-03-15T00:22:57.704Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I initially wondered because I'd seen a comment written after this post which had a URL, but no link. I've found the auto-linking works just fine for me though.

Comment by pattern on How to Understand and Mitigate Risk · 2019-03-14T16:25:31.630Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW
The Kelly criterion is...
(If someone would be willing to walk me through a few examples and show me where all the numbers in the equation come from, I'd be very grateful.)

This would make for a really long comment - about a thousand words (explaining how to derive it). It should probably be a post instead, and in order to be readable, the writer would have to know how to make math formulas render properly instead of just being text. I do not know how to do that last thing, so

The short version is:

The Kelly Criterion is a supposed to be a guide to "optimal betting" for an infinite number of bets, if you have the utility function U = ln(M), where M is how much money you have. The wikipedia page isn't very helpful about the derivation anymore, but it has a link to what it says is the original paper:

The Kelly criterion is helpful when losing your entire bankroll is worse than other outcomes.

This is because log($0) = - infinity utilons. If you don't think being broke is the worst thing that could happen to you, this might not be your exact utility function.

Comment by pattern on LW Update 2019-03-12 -- Bugfixes, small features · 2019-03-14T01:26:12.508Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Auto-linkify URLs in posts and comments

When people type the URL, the option is automatically presented, or when people post something containing a URL (without a link), one is automatically added?

Comment by pattern on Call for Contributions: Implied Marginal Value of Time from Good/Services · 2019-03-12T00:03:39.957Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The spreadsheet doesn't include the Turbo Tax example.

Comment by pattern on Ideas for an action coordination website · 2019-03-10T21:43:54.298Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

A number of websites (such as Facebook) are valuable because of the people there. As it is (usually) useful to a community/group/etc. to communicate using the same channel, channel switching is an activity that makes more sense to do all at once. (If everyone except you left Facebook, would you still use Facebook?)

Comment by pattern on In My Culture · 2019-03-09T17:36:51.585Z · score: 10 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Based on your response I'm guessing, you disagree with a) 'the author's culture', b) the wording ("in my culture"), c) not having enough cautionary remarks (or instructions on how to help people develop memetic immunity/etc. so it can be used responsibly in the group). Would you have responded differently if the post had focused more on reciprocation/negotiating a set of norms as a group, or, in order (counterfactually) for you to have responded differently, would that require too many changes to list?

Comment by pattern on In My Culture · 2019-03-08T19:16:20.512Z · score: 9 (5 votes) · LW · GW

This was really interesting. It was also very long, and if it were split in two, it might be more clear whether reactions are to the first part ("here's this cool thing") or the second part ("here's how things usually work").

Comment by pattern on In My Culture · 2019-03-08T19:04:46.905Z · score: 16 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I noticed the post had a "here is a thing/technique I find useful" component and a "here is an example of something like me using the thing/technique". Did you disagree with the meta part (people talking about where they come from) or the specific part (where the author comes from)?

Comment by pattern on A counter to Roko's basilisk · 2019-03-06T02:31:10.640Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW
it's one function is to prevent the creation of the

Is there a good way of achieving that goal that doesn't start with 'destroy humanity'?

Comment by pattern on Asymptotically Benign AGI · 2019-03-06T02:24:12.315Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Is this where typos go?

[Accidental Post.]

2018-09-13T20:41:17.282Z · score: -3 (2 votes)