Comment by pauls on Do Earths with slower economic growth have a better chance at FAI? · 2013-06-13T07:19:40.722Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

With just a few different conditions, it seems like it's within the realm of possibility that ancient Roman technology could have been a nearly-sustainable peak of human technology.

What makes you think that? Technological growth had already hit a clear exponential curve by the time of Augustus. The large majority of the time to go from foraging to industry had already passed, and it doesn't look like our history was an unusually short one. Barring massive disasters, most other Earths must fall at least within an order of magnitude of variation from this case.

In any case, we're definitely at a point now where indefinite stagnation is not on the table... unless there's a serious regression or worse.

Comment by pauls on Rationality Quotes March 2013 · 2013-03-02T21:42:03.609Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

You're not the first to have that insight :)

Comment by pauls on A brief history of ethically concerned scientists · 2013-02-09T08:00:36.460Z · score: 13 (13 votes) · LW · GW

This may be partly because technologies that were used are more conspicuous. We would know if Napier designed a better cannon, but we don't know how much he delayed the development of artillery by concealing his results.

Comment by pauls on Open Thread, February 1-14, 2013 · 2013-02-02T01:53:40.443Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I would be very interested in something like this.

Comment by pauls on The Zeroth Skillset · 2013-02-01T02:50:30.192Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This case is different in an important way. Most people will go inside during a thunderstorm and check for cars before crossing a street, so avoiding these risks doesn't require an unusual degree of vigilance. katydee is claiming that unusually good situational awareness is frequently a decisive factor in avoiding death or serious injury. If that's true, then we should expect to hear about people dying due to inadequate situational awareness fairly often because most people don't have above average situational awareness.

However, I think this is possibly explained by the fact that people with good situational awareness are far more likely to place themselves in situations were good situational awareness is required.

Comment by pauls on Singularity the hard way · 2012-12-14T05:22:59.853Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Most potential scientists don't view illiterate children in Third World countries as their competitors.

Comment by pauls on Musk, Mars and x-risk · 2012-11-24T01:29:47.009Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

It doesn't follow from the fact that you don't know the optimal use of resources that you should settle for anything slightly positive.

Comment by pauls on [Link] 12 Myths about Hunger · 2012-11-24T01:15:08.868Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

The myths that were actually about hunger contained some useful information. Unfortunately, this ended up being more of an argument for some vaguely leftist political ideology than an actual list of myths about hunger. It seems to me that labeling widely-held political beliefs as "myths" in an article that is supposedly about hunger is not a very good strategy for reaching a wide audience. I personally considered sharing this article when I was about a third of the way through reading it, and then strongly changed my mind when it turned sweeping political generalizations.