Pattern's Shortform Feed 2019-05-30T21:21:23.726Z · score: 13 (3 votes)
[Accidental Post.] 2018-09-13T20:41:17.282Z · score: -6 (1 votes)


Comment by pattern on Prediction Markets Don't Reveal The Territory · 2019-10-13T01:33:26.578Z · score: 7 (4 votes) · LW · GW
If the point is to not just know what the market says, but to know how the world works, then prediction markets in themselves may not be of much help. Here are two quick examples to demonstrate illustrate the point:

They can also be made conditional.

Comment by pattern on David Spies's Shortform · 2019-10-12T06:26:54.313Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW
Question: Why doesn't AlphaGo ever try to spell out death threats on the board and intimidate its opponent into resigning? This seems like it would be a highly effective strategy for winning.

At a guess AlphaGo doesn't because it isn't an agent. Which just passes the buck to why isn't it an agent, so at a guess it's a partial agent. What this means is kind of like, it's a good sport - it's not going to try to spell out death threats. (Though this seems more to do with it a) it not knowing language - imagine trying to spell out threats to aliens you've never seen on a Go board, when a1) you don't have a language, a2) the aliens don't know your language, and b):

It's answering a question about its model of the world which is different from the real world.

) Though it was trained via simulation/watching pro games (depending on the version). If you just trained such a program on a database where that was a strategy, maybe you'd get something that would. Additionally, AI has a track record of also being (what some might call) a bad sport - using "cheats" and the like. It's kind of about the action space and the training I'd guess.

Basically, if you're looking for an AI to come up with new ways of being evil, maybe it needs a head start - once a bot understands that some patterns spelled out on the board will work well against a certain type of opponent*, maybe it'll try to find patterns that do that. Maybe it's an "architecture" issue, not a training issue - Monte Carlo Tree Search might be well suited to beating Go, but not to finding ways to spell out death threats on a Go board in the middle of a game. (I also don't think that's a good strategy a priori.)

*You could test how different ways of training turn out if you add a way to cheat/cheatcodes - like if you spell out "I WIN" or one swear word** you win.

**I imagine trying to go all the way to threats immediately (inside the game Go) isn't going to go very fast, so you have to start small.

Comment by pattern on The Baconian Method (Novum Organum Book 1: 93-107) · 2019-10-12T05:58:49.267Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW
And this induction should be used not only in the discovery of axioms but also in drawing boundaries around notions. It is in this induction that our chief hope lies.
[[Here Bacon again mentions the importance of Looking Into the Dark.]]

Looking into the Dark, and something of how words* should be fashioned. (May relate to sequence material, may be more broad.)

*This may apply beyond words, he uses the word notions - for example, if "axiom" refers to "hypothesis" perhaps by notions he means something specific other than words - theories or ontology or departments? Or he means multiple things.

if you had conducted yourself perfectly yet still ended up in your present ·miserable· condition, you would have not even a hope of improvement. But as things stand, with your misfortunes being due not to the circumstances but to your own errors, you can hope that by abandoning or correcting these errors you can make a great change for the better.

An uplifting point.

Comment by pattern on Minimization of prediction error as a foundation for human values in AI alignment · 2019-10-10T04:43:31.341Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW
In other words: if I seem to eat the same foods quite often (despite claiming to like variety), you might conclude that I like familiarity when it's actually just that I like what I like. I've found a set of foods which I particularly enjoy (which I can rotate between for the sake of variety). That doesn't mean it is familiarity itself which I enjoy.

Agents trade off exploring and exploiting, and when they're exploiting they look like they're minimizing prediction error?

Comment by pattern on Daniel Kokotajlo's Shortform · 2019-10-10T04:15:31.130Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

How would you test the conjecture?

Comment by pattern on On Collusion - Vitalik Buterin · 2019-10-10T00:42:36.136Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW


and it’s unavoidably possible for 51% of the participants can conspire

to conspire

Comment by pattern on Minimization of prediction error as a foundation for human values in AI alignment · 2019-10-09T20:50:52.808Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW
Desire and aversion are what it feels like to notice prediction error is high and for the brain to take actions it predicts will lower it either by something happening (seeing sensory input) or not happening (not seeing sensory input), respectively.

What? It seems like there's more to "good" and "bad" than "familiar" and "surprising", respectively. Things can be unpleasant and familiar, or surprising and good.

Comment by pattern on Artifact: What Went Wrong? · 2019-10-08T21:49:45.445Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW
Reason 3: Artifact Wasn’t Random Enough but Was Perceived as Random in Bad Ways

I'm curious what effects perception of randomness. (Based on this post, it was tied into skill in Artifact, and 'I don't know what's going on' over a lot of variables whose importance (or lack there of) is unclear amplifies the effect, but it's not clear what people are okay with about decks, aside from familiarity.)

Solving a lot of them, I believe, would have been enough.

Like 5, or 8?

All around a great post, and a good wrap up for the Sequence (although a complicated game dying is sad).

Comment by pattern on Are there technical/object-level fields that make sense to recruit to LessWrong? · 2019-10-08T21:02:51.837Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW,

This link is broken. It goes to:

Comment by pattern on Occam's Razor May Be Sufficient to Infer the Preferences of Irrational Agents: A reply to Armstrong & Mindermann · 2019-10-08T00:08:46.479Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW
It’s easy to see that these examples, being constructed from E, are at most slightly more complex than the simplest possible pair, since they could use the simplest pair to generate E.

Not actually clear. If I had a really long list of factorials (of length n), then perhaps it could be "compressed" in terms of f of 1 through n + a description of f. However, it's not clear how large n would have to be for this to be, for that description to be shorter. Thus:

Example: The initial conditions are simply E, and L() doesn’t do anything.

is actually simpler, until E is big enough.

Comment by pattern on What do the baby eaters tell us about ethics? · 2019-10-07T18:23:32.128Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Do you think the author didn't mean it to have that message?

Comment by pattern on What do the baby eaters tell us about ethics? · 2019-10-07T18:12:32.150Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

More relevant to the moral of the story - a number of the reasons the humans thought the baby eaters were evil, were reasons

the super happies thought the humans were evil, though to a lesser extent.

While the humans didn't find the baby eaters noble w.r.t that different trait, or appreciate their ethos, the humans thought what they did was right, though the main character was shocked by the super happies because he'd never considered that path (the change w.r.t pain, as opposed to just pursuing 'happiness'.)

Comment by pattern on What do the baby eaters tell us about ethics? · 2019-10-06T23:32:34.294Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Two things:

1. The babyeaters were supposed to be weird - they were supposed to be alien. In my opinion, to the extent that they have something in common (w.r.t that extreme) with humans, it should not be "I disagree with this person politically this is what it's like meeting an alien" but rather the observation that the word "cannibals" exists.

2. What everyone had in common was - Everyone wanted everyone else to change.* That was the source of conflict. (They also all had spaceships, and the more "loving" the species, the more advanced the tech.)

*Sort of. Was less clear with the humans, but more detail was available. Wouldn't have been an issue (to that extent) if they were all the same.

a deeper message about ethical systems

Maybe the assertion that they evolved?

Comment by pattern on Vaniver's Shortform · 2019-10-06T22:54:24.669Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW
This makes sense if arguments from those beliefs are pulls on the group epistemology, and not if those beliefs are guides for individual action.

What about guides for changes to individual/personal action?

Comment by pattern on Eight O'Clock is Relative · 2019-10-05T17:36:29.337Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW
At this point switching it to the correct time and teaching her she can get up if it is "7:??" would have made sense, but there was enough going on that we didn't get to it.

The simple solution.

I could just leave things alone until she points out that it's weird, at which point she'll know time well enough that I can set it correctly and suggest she not get up before 7:12am.

Worst case, she notices the discrepancy and fixes it, by changing her clock, or the other clocks in the house. (Watch out for daylight savings time.)

The complicated solution is making a clock, or something that interfaces with one, so that after the time, it displays the word UP* (or AWAKE*), until bedtime, then it says SLEEP*, and the whole thing repeats.

*I'm imagining these on a clock.

Comment by pattern on [Link] Tools for thought (Matuschak & Nielson) · 2019-10-05T16:59:36.105Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW
To give one example of a limitation of books outside of memory not addressed by your post, books don't provide any way for me to answer questions about the ideas being discussed beyond what I can visualize in my head (in particular in cases where the ideas are heavily quantitative).

How would this be different from a textbook with problems to work through? Or did you mean good visualization (of data, imbedded in the text) as the link demonstrates?

Comment by pattern on [Link] Tools for thought (Matuschak & Nielson) · 2019-10-04T20:21:00.443Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Is that How to Read a Book for Understanding?

Comment by pattern on To Be Decided #1 · 2019-10-04T05:25:07.844Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW


(Side note: props to Bipartisan Policy Coalition's Nick Hart for braving Reddit to host a rowdy Ask Me Anything on this topic.)

Is that the right link?

General note: great post, this sounds like it's going to be an amazing newsletter!

Comment by pattern on Open & Welcome Thread - October 2019 · 2019-10-03T00:27:30.177Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

As someone who doesn't know topology yet, that sounds amazing!

Comment by pattern on I try not to have opinions · 2019-10-02T18:32:25.897Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

So I usually use the word "opinion" to mean "belief".

Comment by pattern on LW Team Updates - October 2019 · 2019-10-02T17:46:29.126Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW


report [false] of incoming missiles

report incoming missiles

pass on a report of incoming missiles [which was a false alarm]

Looking forward to this:

Stand by for a post describing the experiment and how it went.

Comment by pattern on Long-term Donation Bunching? · 2019-09-28T03:50:59.261Z · score: 0 (3 votes) · LW · GW
Are you saying you want an explicit calculation comparing the tax gains from bunching to the risk of never donating?

I don't disagree with your conclusion, I haven't done the math yet. (Perhaps I should post a longer algorithm/closed form solution, or code up a widget.) It was a general nitpick regarding process, on a great post.

Six year bunching would be five years of donating $0 and taking the $12k standard deduction, and then one year of donating $60k and deducting $65k.
That is clearly not worth a 50% chance of donating $0.

Could bunching be implemented in a different order? Donate the 60k in year one, then 0 the following 5 years?*

I think we should have a community default of "donate as you go, to a donor-advised fund if need be".

That seems like a reasonable default. Is there a particular fund you had in mind?*

*I don't know much about this area. Prior to reading this post I'd never heard of donor-advised funds before. If these are basic questions I'd understand after reading a book on the subject, I'd appreciate recommendations.

Comment by pattern on Rationality and Levels of Intervention · 2019-09-28T03:17:18.960Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW
arguments about needing to consider what's useful, not just what's true.

Absent examples it's not clear how these trade off against each other. It seems like what's useful is a subset of what's true - offhandedly, I don't know what color of flames are produced if cesium is burned (or what cesium is, if it burns, if the fumes would be harmful, etc.), but if I thought that might be useful knowledge in the future I'd seek it out.

Comment by pattern on Long-term Donation Bunching? · 2019-09-27T19:32:45.307Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW
While we don't have good data on the rate at which this happens, in a small sample about half of people in the effective altruism movement in 2013 were no longer involved five years later. If you think your current self is correct to be altruistic and don't want to leave donations up to a likely less-generous future person then bunching donations over several years is harmful: the substantial possibility that you don't actually donate outweighs the tax savings.

It seems like this should be done as a calculation rather than moving directly from words to a course of action.

Comment by pattern on Honoring Petrov Day on LessWrong, in 2019 · 2019-09-27T02:25:19.095Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

3 seems like an incentive to create sockpuppets. (It might make more sense to combine "Button rights" and "codes".) Making limitations, for example, based on age of accounts moves the incentive from "create sockpuppets", to "have created sockpuppets".

Comment by pattern on Deducing Impact · 2019-09-26T01:01:06.627Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

That would depend on whether things have a multiplicative effect on utility, or additive.

Comment by pattern on Deducing Impact · 2019-09-26T00:54:23.946Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Nitpick: one should update based on observations, as opposed to "X has occurred with certainty".

Comment by pattern on Bíos brakhús · 2019-09-23T20:00:38.604Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It would be a nice addition to games, if instead of having a point where they can get boring (after mastery has been achieved), instead having another level where tools (or tools for making tools) become gradually available to assist, and eventually replace, the player.

Comment by pattern on Emotions are actions, not goals or messages · 2019-09-23T19:54:40.453Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

What book?

Comment by pattern on Grue_Slinky's Shortform · 2019-09-23T19:51:43.303Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW
Part of it could be that we can fake videos, not just images, but that can't be all of it.

There was a handful of news about things like a company being scammed out of a lot of money (the voice of the CEO was faked over a phone). This is a different issue than "the public" being fooled.

Comment by pattern on Everyday belief in diminishing returns is resistant to diminishing returns · 2019-09-22T21:58:47.010Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW
Most people do not have the discipline to do just 15 minutes of something. They have to do 0, or 45. This is your actual competition.

Then try doing something once a week, for an hour.

Comment by pattern on Pattern's Shortform Feed · 2019-09-17T18:38:22.215Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW


Comment by pattern on Open & Welcome Thread - September 2019 · 2019-09-17T18:33:59.481Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Compromise Solutions:

  • after TG has read the book, "think more of them". (There's a "bragging thread" somewhere.)
  • TG makes a post about what they've learned from reading Tao's analysis when they're done. (If it's really long, then such a post might be usefully broken up into smaller posts, possibly released earlier.)
Comment by pattern on Open & Welcome Thread - September 2019 · 2019-09-17T18:29:58.608Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

You could put a comment* in your shortform feed called "Reading List", then add a comment* on it with a link to the post you want to read later.

*without an upvote.

Comment by pattern on Open & Welcome Thread - September 2019 · 2019-09-17T18:28:09.352Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Why so some posts have comments that were posted before the post was? (Example post, example comment.)

Comment by pattern on Category Qualifications (w/ exercises) · 2019-09-16T21:03:12.074Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW
Interpreting that quote to mean "most people expect everyone to use correct grammar 100% of the time" seems immediately wrong. Do you interpret it differently?

Yes. 2 things:

1. Gesturing: a) I expect something if I am surprised if it doesn't happen. I don't expect something if I am surprised if it happens. You could say I am "surprised" when I see errors because they are rare. (I might lose this surprise w.r.t a specific text which is a solid block of errors, if I tried to read such a thing.) To get more specific, some errors are "smaller" or more common, say, using "it's" possessively instead of "its".

b) More to the point: I expect people to use correct grammar and spelling most of the time.

For example, the original post has... 1,480 words in the form of 8,502 characters (according to, starting at "This is" ending at "encouraged"). Whether or not it has any spelling errors, I'd say the error rate is low, however you look at it.

2. It can break flow. This can also be seen as, when people are reading, they have a prediction of what comes next. On a word level, "further/farther" isn't a severe case, but surprise, and having the right amount of it, especially at certain levels, can affect a work greatly. Some authors may intentionally use (technically) incorrect spelling (and sometimes grammar) for the purpose of puns, and similar effects, and reception may vary. When things appear incorrect, particularly a lot of things, it starts to add up, and working out what was (meant to be) said is more difficult.

Comment by pattern on [AN #64]: Using Deep RL and Reward Uncertainty to Incentivize Preference Learning · 2019-09-16T19:13:50.281Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW
Neither classical adversarial training nor training on a version of ImageNet designed to reduce the reliance on texture helps a lot, but modifying the network architecture can increase the accuracy on ImageNet-A from around 5% to 15%.

(Section link.)

Wow, 15% sounds really low. How well do people perform on said dataset?

This reminds me of:

David Ha's
most recent paper, Weight Agnostic Neural Networks looks at what happens when you do architecture search over neural nets initialized with random weights to try and better understand how much work structure is doing in neural nets.
Comment by pattern on A Critique of Functional Decision Theory · 2019-09-16T17:01:58.329Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The post makes much more sense once you get to this part:

Third, the best decision theory to run is not going to look like any of the standard decision theories. I don’t run CDT, or EDT, or FDT, and I’m very glad of it; it would be impossible for my brain to handle the calculations of any of these decision theories every moment. Instead I almost always follow a whole bunch of rough-and-ready and much more computationally tractable heuristics; and even on the rare occasions where I do try to work out the expected value of something explicitly, I don’t consider the space of all possible actions and all states of nature that I have some credence in — doing so would take years.

Edit: focusing on one thing.

Comment by pattern on Category Qualifications (w/ exercises) · 2019-09-16T06:00:52.063Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW
Ex. 3

This reminds me of Russel's paradox.

Using the more grammatically correct word doesn't change our expectations.

Using the grammatically incorrect word violates our expectations of how words are uzed.

Comment by pattern on Focus · 2019-09-16T01:11:04.204Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The bass whistle link appears to be broken.

Comment by pattern on Counterfactual Oracles = online supervised learning with random selection of training episodes · 2019-09-15T00:36:43.811Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I don't have much in the way of a model of "manipulative predictions" - they've been mentioned before as a motivation for counterfactual oracles.

I think the original example was, there's this one oracle that everyone has access to and believes, and it says "company X's stock is gonna go way done by the end of today" and because everyone believes it, it happens.

In a similar fashion, I can imagine multiple people/groups trying to independently create (their own) "oracles" for predicting the (stock) market.

Comment by pattern on The Power to Solve Climate Change · 2019-09-12T20:20:39.262Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

(I consider it ironic that Thiel's Founders Fund has an investment in Golden, but it was a relatively small amount and unrepresentative of their normal decision-making.)

Golden's plan* was something like 'better than wikipedia'. Your past disagreement seemed to stem from the belief that:

  • they didn't have a plan to achieve that plan*, or
  • their plan to achieve that plan* was subpar, or
  • they didn't have a plan. They had a goal.
Comment by pattern on Counterfactual Oracles = online supervised learning with random selection of training episodes · 2019-09-12T07:17:05.730Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW
Reward Takeover

There's a similar issue with less extreme requirements:

(Note that what Stuart Armstrong calls "erasure" just means that the current episode has been selected as a training episode.)

Imagine there's a circumstance in which the variable you want to predict can be affected by predictions. Fortunately, you were smart enough to use a counterfactual oracle. Unfortunately, you weren't the only person who had this idea, and absent coordination to use the same RNG (in the same way), rather than the oracles learning from episodes they don't influence and not learning to make "manipulative predictions", instead they learned from each other (because even when their output is erased, the other oracles' outputs aren't) and eventually make manipulative predictions.

Comment by pattern on Pattern's Shortform Feed · 2019-09-10T00:06:07.534Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Comment by pattern on Bíos brakhús · 2019-09-09T17:47:47.091Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Can't you distract yourself with intellectual work?

Comment by pattern on Looking for answers about quantum immortality. · 2019-09-09T17:46:11.117Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Is winning the lottery a binary event?

Comment by pattern on Do you have algorithms for passing time productively with only your own mind? · 2019-09-09T17:33:44.277Z · score: -1 (2 votes) · LW · GW
with only your own mind?

Math: I make up problems, often involving (discrete) sequences.* (Being interested in the problem helps.)


*Without paper: Geometry:

a) What is the greatest distance in a cube? And what is it's measure? In a tesseract (4-cube)? In the n-th hypercube?

b) What is the area of an equilateral triangle as a function of the length of one of its sides? The distance between the center and the corners? The distance between the center and the center of one of the sides?

With paper:

More general version of b): Consider the sequence of (regular**a) shapes with the least number of points for it's number of dimensions. What is the the hyper volume of the n-th shape as a function of the distance between the center and a corner (it's the same for all corners**b)?

**While I assert a -> b, I haven't proved this from the definition of regular polytopes.

Comment by pattern on Alternative name for a Bug List · 2019-09-09T16:42:40.517Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Niche*: "Simple Steps To Achieve your Goals Faster" (STAG), or "Exercises", or "Practice Makes Perfect"

General: Strategies, Play book, Tomorrow You, Upgrades, Levels

This also includes features you already share with this Best Version of You! That way, you can continue to cultivate these features and not lose them, while validating yourself.

Cultivation, Character Sheet, Master Plan, Save, Level Up, Grow, Super Effective, You x2**

*These names might work better for some lists than others.

**Pronounced "Times Two"

Comment by pattern on Integrating the Lindy Effect · 2019-09-07T19:34:07.078Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Your writing suggests the second way is correct, not the first:

How quickly the things you know become irrelevant is directly proportional

[Emphasis mine.]

Comment by pattern on Seven habits towards highly effective minds · 2019-09-07T19:14:41.258Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

(Social influence might not be the best word here.)

1) rewarding creativity (its opposite might be more infamous)


a) Convening for idea generation, esp. regularly on a schedule (Purpose, Method)

b) via joining hallways and close proximity. (Method for increasing Creativity/Productivity[3])

Examples that come to mind:

People in the same/similar fields can achieve more working together[1]. People in different fields working together[1] can as well, both for similar reasons (2 heads > 1, identical shared problems[2]) and different ones (seeing if stuff from one domain is useful in another instead of overlapping competency protecting against errors).

[1] /talking with each other

[2] Some 'fields' might be better (off) than others if they manage to solve basic issues better - more widespread use of better teaching/learning methods, distilling more (and having less 'research debt') or being better at coming up with explanations that are easier to understand, being better at encouraging/enabling collaboration[3], etc.

[3] See this post; it's rather empirical, and goes fairly in depth:

relying on co-location over processes for information sharing is similar to relying on human memory over writing things down: much cheaper until it hits a sharp cliff. Empirically that cliff is about 30 meters, or one hallway. After that, process shines.