The Hamming Problem of Group Rationality 2018-02-26T18:59:33.745Z
Bay Solstice 2017: Thoughts 2017-12-18T10:04:03.754Z
On Inconvenient Truth 2017-11-10T01:21:41.840Z
Seasonal Celebrations in the Rationalist Community 2017-10-29T01:28:12.098Z
Daemon Speedups 2017-10-29T01:24:06.613Z
Tech vs. Willpower 2017-10-25T01:31:20.367Z
UnTAPed Learning 2017-10-23T05:52:21.184Z
Personal Model of Social Energy 2017-10-09T03:14:16.283Z
Blind Goaltenders: Unproductive Disagreements 2017-09-28T16:19:07.241Z


Comment by PDV on The Hamming Problem of Group Rationality · 2018-02-27T08:40:07.244Z · LW · GW

That is complete. I'm out.

Comment by PDV on The Hamming Problem of Group Rationality · 2018-02-27T08:39:37.099Z · LW · GW

They don't have intellectual progress as a goal.

Comment by PDV on The Hamming Problem of Group Rationality · 2018-02-27T01:34:09.421Z · LW · GW

The social incentives favor authors doing it more, and are ambivalent for the mods. Though I don't trust them either, particularly after such a massive failure of judgment as proposing this change.

Comment by PDV on The Hamming Problem of Group Rationality · 2018-02-27T01:32:23.765Z · LW · GW

Calling out obvious groupthink and bullshit. Which is depressingly common with increasing regularity.

Comment by PDV on The Hamming Problem of Group Rationality · 2018-02-27T01:31:24.287Z · LW · GW

You are wrong about your own motivations in a way trivially predictable by monkey dynamics.

Comment by PDV on The Hamming Problem of Group Rationality · 2018-02-27T01:30:17.705Z · LW · GW

I expect content's prominence on LesserWrong to be the result of political dynamics and filter bubbles, not insight or value. I do not expect it to be truth-tracking.

Comment by PDV on The Hamming Problem of Group Rationality · 2018-02-26T19:02:45.651Z · LW · GW

In line with this, I have given up on Lesserwrong. It's clearly not going to be a source of insight I can trust for much longer, and I have doubts that it was any time recently.

I am in the process of taking everything I posted here and putting it back on my personal blog. After that's been done, I don't know whether I will interact with this site at all, since the main contribution I feel is needed is banned and the mods have threatened to ban me as well.

Comment by PDV on Circling · 2018-02-25T09:03:50.590Z · LW · GW

Fix the links, not the limit.

Comment by PDV on Meta-tations on Moderation: Towards Public Archipelago · 2018-02-25T08:55:05.229Z · LW · GW

So scale it to...the size it already is? Maybe double that? I don't think that requires any change. If you wanted a 10x user count increase, that probably would, but I don't think those 10X potential users even exist. Unless and until round 3 of "Eliezer writes something that has no business getting a large audience into his preferred cause areas, but somehow works anyway" occurs.

I am also extremely skeptical that any discussion platform can do the third thing you mention. I don't think any discussion platform that has ever existed both dealt with significant quantities of new people coming in well and was effective at filtering for effectiveness/quality. Those goals, in point of fact, seem directly opposed in most contexts; in order to judge people in any detail, the number to be judged must be kept small.

Are you sure you're not building for scale because that's the default thing you do with a web app made in the SF Bay Area?

Hmm, related question: Assuming this revival works, how long do you expect the site to be actively used before a 3.0 requiring a similar level of effort as this project becomes necessary? 5 years? 10?

(My prediction is 5 years.)

Comment by PDV on Meta-tations on Moderation: Towards Public Archipelago · 2018-02-25T04:36:14.516Z · LW · GW

Why do you think that LessWrong can or should scale?

Comment by PDV on Circling · 2018-02-23T17:50:11.983Z · LW · GW

Many if not most people are Goodharting in most aspects of their lives. Why not this one?

I acknowledge your claim that you value feeling good over and above the things that cause you to feel good. I agree that many people implicitly endorse this claim about themselves. I think you and they are very likely mistaken about this preference, and that ceasing to optimize for it would improve your life significantly according to your other preferences.

Comment by PDV on Circling · 2018-02-21T17:01:18.747Z · LW · GW

I said that already? "Something great is something that increases your utility significantly." This is a property of timelines, not of world-states, and so can't be directly queried, but better approximations can be built up by retrospecting on which times feeling great was accurate and which times it was not.

Unreal, in a subthread above, claims that it is possible to realign System 1 such that feeling great coincides with being great. This seems wrong to me, but is the kind of thing that could be right. Your description does not seem to be the kind of thing that could be right.

Comment by PDV on [Meta] New moderation tools and moderation guidelines · 2018-02-21T16:48:15.875Z · LW · GW

It is strategically necessary to assume that social incentives are the true reason, because social incentives disguise themselves as any acceptable reason, and the corrosive effect of social incentives is the Hamming Problem for group epistemics. (I went into more detail here.)

Comment by PDV on [Meta] New moderation tools and moderation guidelines · 2018-02-21T16:45:58.739Z · LW · GW

I agree that desiring to hide traces is evidence of such a desire, but it's simply not my motivation

Irrelevant. Stated motivation is cheap talk, not reliable introspectively, let alone coming from someone else.

Or, in more detail:

1) Unchecked, this capability being misused will create echo chambers.

2) There is a social incentive to misuse it; lack of dissent increases perceived legitimacy and thus status.

3) Where social incentives to do a thing for personal benefit exist, basic social instincts push people to do that thing for personal benefit.

4) These instincts operate at a level below and before conscious verbalization.

5) The mind's justifier will, if feasible, throw up more palatable reasons why you are taking the action.

6) So even if you believe yourself to be using an action for good reasons, if there is a social incentive to be misusing it, you are very likely misusing it a significant fraction of the time.

7) Even doing this a fraction of the time will create an echo chamber.

8) For good group epistemics, preventing the descent into echo chambers is of utmost importance.

9) Therefore no given reason can be an acceptable reason.

10) Therefore this capability should not exist.

Comment by PDV on [Meta] New moderation tools and moderation guidelines · 2018-02-21T16:32:44.261Z · LW · GW

People absolutely are silenced by this, and the core goal is to get high quality discussion, for which comments are at least as important as posts.

Writing a rebuttal on your personal page, if you are low-status, is still being silenced. To be able to speak, you need not just a technical ability to say things, but an ability to say them to the audience that cares.

Under this moderation scheme, if I have an novel, unpopular dissenting view against a belief that is important to the continuing power of the popular, they can costlessly prevent me from getting any traction.

Comment by PDV on Toward a New Technical Explanation of Technical Explanation · 2018-02-21T04:21:16.180Z · LW · GW

I do not have a good understanding of what is meant by "ontology".

Comment by PDV on [Meta] New moderation tools and moderation guidelines · 2018-02-21T03:58:08.802Z · LW · GW

Others could, if they are unwise. But they should not. There is no shame in deleting low-effort comments and so no reason to hide the traces of doing so. There is shame in deleting comments for less prosocial reasons, and therefore a reason to hide the traces.

The fact that you desire to hide the traces is evidence that the traces being hidden are of the type it is shameful to create.

Comment by PDV on Circling · 2018-02-21T02:49:32.305Z · LW · GW

I claim that as a general principle, "something feeling great is by itself a type of greatness to me" is a category error. What feels great is a map, and being great is the territory. There is a fact of the matter with regards to what is great for PDV, and what is great for Kaj. They are not identical, and they are not directly queriable, but there is a fact of the matter. Something great is something that increases your utility significantly. (Non-utilitarian ethics: translate that into language your system permits.)

What feels great is a separate fact. It is directly queriable, and correlates with being great, but it is only an approximation, and can therefore be Goodharted. The distinction between the true utility and the approximation is a general property of human minds, with some regularities (superstimuli), but also not identical between people.

So when you say "for me that's a subcategory", I conclude that you have a) misunderstood my claim, and b) mistaken the map for the territory.

Comment by PDV on Circling · 2018-02-21T02:31:27.628Z · LW · GW
And I don't believe that many people are out to manipulate.

I think that would be a crux. Virtually everyone is out to manipulate almost everyone else, at all times. Much of the manipulation is subconscious, and observing that it is present is harshly socially punished. (cf. ialdabaoth/frustrateddemiurge/the living incarnation of David Monroe, PBUH).

If that's the case then it's your duty to be better at modelling them than they are at surprising you.

Doing that in full generality is literally impossible; it's anti-inductive. It's entirely a matter of what tolerances are acceptable. Treating most people as not giving a shit about me or anyone else, until clearly demonstrated otherwise, has predicted the world accurately up to this point.

Comment by PDV on Circling · 2018-02-21T02:12:35.495Z · LW · GW

I think I've explained this in other subthreads.

Comment by PDV on [Meta] New moderation tools and moderation guidelines · 2018-02-21T02:07:23.232Z · LW · GW

If you don't want to leave public traces, others must assume that we wouldn't like what we saw if the traces were public.

Comment by PDV on [Meta] New moderation tools and moderation guidelines · 2018-02-21T02:04:52.534Z · LW · GW

I think this is extremely bad. Letting anyone, no matter how prominent, costlessly remove/silence others is toxic to the principle of open debate.

At minimum, there should be a substantial penalty for banning and deleting comments. And not a subtraction, a multiplication. My first instinct would be to use the fraction of users you have taken action against as a proportional penalty to your karma, for all purposes. Or, slightly more complex, take the total "raw score" of karma of all users you've taken action against, divide by the total "raw score" of everyone on the site, double it, and use that as the penalty factor. If Eliezer actually only bans unhelpful newbies, then this will be a small penalty. If he starts taking repeated action against many people otherwise regarded as serious contributors, then it will be a large penalty.

The intended use case of this may be positive, but let's be real: even among rationalists, status incentives always win out. Put on your David Monroe/ialdabaoth hats and remember that for a group rationality project, priorities 1, 2, and 3 must be defanging social incentives to corrupt group epistemics.

Comment by PDV on [Meta] New moderation tools and moderation guidelines · 2018-02-21T01:55:08.481Z · LW · GW

I don't think it's an interesting experiment. The outcome is obvious: it will be abused to silence competing points of view.

Comment by PDV on Circling · 2018-02-21T01:44:56.137Z · LW · GW

If the intention is sound, the value it adds is minimal. Anyone can be kind as long as they are trying to be kind.

Comment by PDV on Circling · 2018-02-19T19:21:19.069Z · LW · GW

I'm pretty sure that the standard Eliezer requires to post here is hostile to good epistemics.

Comment by PDV on Circling · 2018-02-19T19:20:32.369Z · LW · GW

I did not see this comment until this moment (the comment display when there are more than 100 of them is really screwy). I will break off for the next day.

Comment by PDV on Circling · 2018-02-19T19:14:33.151Z · LW · GW

Explicit claims are more honest, and thus better, than implicit claims. Claiming status explicitly opens you up to someone else contesting it; claiming status implicitly makes it harder to be criticized.

This probably maps cleanly to Ask/Guess Culture. I'm certainly an Ask partisan. (On that front. I am not strongly opinionated on Ask vs. Tell vs. other novel variations).

Comment by PDV on Circling · 2018-02-19T19:08:21.181Z · LW · GW

This is an accurate description of my mental state in this situation.

Comment by PDV on Circling · 2018-02-19T19:06:43.739Z · LW · GW

I consider this a factual dispute about minds and Goodhart's Law, rather than a difference of subjective categorization, so this response is a non sequitur to me.

Comment by PDV on Circling · 2018-02-19T04:03:33.151Z · LW · GW

It is good to have great things in your life. It is not necessarily good to have things you feel are great in your life; those feelings are not necessarily accurate. Many things that feel really good are metaphorical junk food. They are the Symbolic Representation of The Thing. Anything that quickly generates emotional attachment is most likely to be Goodharting, optimizing for feeling great and generating attachment, rather than being great.

Comment by PDV on Circling · 2018-02-19T03:57:49.939Z · LW · GW

Personally, I am willing to keep them in my life as long as I trust other, harder-to-fake signals that they are value-aligned with me, or at least the values I consider core. (Though one of those values is not wanting to be manipulated except towards my own best interests.)

Comment by PDV on Circling · 2018-02-19T03:47:53.941Z · LW · GW

An element that's easy to leave out in a description, but which I understand to be fairly critical, is the deliberate over-the-top nature of it. You don't just say "That is your doom", you go DOOOOOM, DOOMY DOOMY DOOM between one person receiving doom and the next. I believe its function is to both allow for people to be more extreme than they would if they didn't have the vague feeling that anything could be taken as exaggeration, and simultaneously to lessen the emotional impact of the criticism.

Comment by PDV on Circling · 2018-02-19T03:44:50.091Z · LW · GW

It's somewhat broader than that. It's not necessary for the environment to insist on NVC, as long as it treats NVC as high-status and... I'm going to say "aspirationally normative" and hope that makes sense. See Val's comment here. That is, from my standpoint, an obvious social attack, enabled by NVC being, not necessarily normative, but treated as aligned with a general goal. As long as I accept the framing that NVC is good, I have no recourse but to take the status hit and accept the implicit premise that I need to demonstrate I'm not morally/epistemically/socially inferior.

I do believe that is possible to use NVC ethically. (It is also probably possible to Circle ethically.) But Hagbard's Law still applies; communication is only possible between equals, whether it's ostensibly nonviolent or not. If there is a power struggle in progress, all signals are distorted; all utterances are going to be received as moves in the power game first, communication second.

Comment by PDV on Circling · 2018-02-19T03:36:20.606Z · LW · GW

It's a implicit claim of social/moral/epistemic superiority.

Comment by PDV on Circling · 2018-02-19T03:35:30.955Z · LW · GW

(Correct. We definitely seem to be on the same page here.)

Comment by PDV on Circling · 2018-02-19T03:32:27.467Z · LW · GW

I’ve had a hard time with people using emotional/social rapport-building tools in communication, because it feels like it’s exploiting hacks in my psychology to make me comply.

Yes, this. Extremely this.

I happen to believe that “learn the skill already“ is far safer than “denounce it wherever it occurs”, especially when the skill is something as universal as *exerting social pressure*.

I don't think learning the social pressure manipulation skill is sufficient. The counterskill, resisting social pressure, is much harder to learn and much harder to execute.

Comment by PDV on Circling · 2018-02-19T03:29:58.962Z · LW · GW

I consider you to be bullying me. NVC and most related practice are morally-disguised bullying, a framework in which anyone who does not conform to the norm (and never mind the personal cost) is constantly socially attacked.

Comment by PDV on Circling · 2018-02-19T03:27:03.475Z · LW · GW

I am a dom, and while I dislike nearly everyone in the BDSM scene, it's not for reasons at all related to this. I am unaware of any writing on BDSM from anyone I've heard of saying that BDSM is "praised as a way to be a better person"; when it's held up as better, it's on hedonistic grounds, not moral ones. Which is a critical piece of the problem; the difference between "you really should try this, you're missing out" and "you really should try this, you're weaker and worse because you don't" is enormous in terms of what social pressure it exerts.

Also, I don't appreciate the social posturing/attack in your latter paragraph.

Comment by PDV on Circling · 2018-02-19T03:24:43.050Z · LW · GW

You are correct that Val's last paragraph is a problem in the same way the quoted section was.

EDIT: Your description of me is wrong in most details, but I don't think reaching the correct top-level conclusion was a coincidence.

Comment by PDV on Circling · 2018-02-19T03:18:36.595Z · LW · GW

Could you elaborate on what the hell "being seen" means? My experience with the term is somewhere between meaninglessness and "a distraction mentioned while someone's covertly socially attacking".

Comment by PDV on Circling · 2018-02-19T03:16:13.828Z · LW · GW

I'm not sure I buy that emotional leaps are crucially important. Lowering barriers is, but I am not at all convinced that taking leaps is a good way to go about that.

Comment by PDV on Circling · 2018-02-18T19:12:57.316Z · LW · GW

Producing a strong emotional attachment to the activity and thinking it's really great, is itself a significant, negative effect.

Comment by PDV on Circling · 2018-02-18T07:07:01.976Z · LW · GW

If sex almost always happened in groups of 4-12, it would be unwise for most people to ever have sex, since it is highly unlikely that they would have 3-11 people they reasonably trusted enough to have sex with.

If sex was praised as a way to be a better person and done in deliberate ritualized circumstances, it would be boundary-violating basically every single time.

If it was both, then anyone who suggested you have sex would be so obviously wrong they could not be said to be anything but evil.

Comment by PDV on Circling · 2018-02-18T01:06:18.991Z · LW · GW

Not by default and no, respectively.

Most people are unknown to me and do not share my values. They are trustworthy to the extent of my ability to model them and my confidence that they are not manipulating me.

I was systematically subtly pulled down by ostensible friends in middle school and early high school, but I don't consider that I was ever betrayed in any stronger sense, or by anyone I trusted to any high degree.

Comment by PDV on Circling · 2018-02-18T00:59:56.403Z · LW · GW

They both are situations of enforced sharing, ostensibly optional but socially mandated. They establish rules within which you must operate, which can and inevitably will be used against anyone less skilled in them. They can be good, but mostly for people who are already socially secure and powerful, and the downside risk is very large risk of totally losing self-image and identity, destroying load-bearing coping mechanisms, and generally taking someone with very few tools to deal with the world and breaking those tools in the name of giving them better ones.

Comment by PDV on Circling · 2018-02-18T00:24:15.957Z · LW · GW

Based on recent experience in the community around the subject, I think Circling is both toxic and a feedback-loop trap.

To paraphrase two friends who had similar strong negative reactions:

This is one of those "this thing is intensely intimate, but it is going to be pushed on me as if it isn't" things, where people will look down on me for not doing it because it is Therapeutic.
I am fairly sure this would be bad for me, in the same way meditation is bad for me, and I have a terror that because of the social aspect people I want to be friends with will come to decide it is essential to being friends.

This is something I would not do with anyone I did not trust absolutely. No matter what it ostensibly holds about how it should not "force you to open up or try to get you to be vulnerable", I am quite sure that, as practiced by humans, it will, and participants will be blinded to this obvious truth by the benefits and feeling of purity they have gained from it. Like NVC, I consider anyone engaging in this while in interaction with me a hostile actor.


I notice I feel trepidation and fear as I prepare to discuss this. I'm afraid I won't be able to give you what you want, that you'll become bored or start judging me.

[^This is a Circling move I just made: revealing what I'm feeling and what I'm imagining will happen.]

If this were an actual circle, I could ask you and check if it's true—are you feeling bored? [I invite you to check.]

My instinctive reaction to this entire chunk is "ENEMY, HOSTILE, GET GONE, YOU ARE NO FRIEND OF MINE." And I endorse that reaction. Anyone who uses this kind of frame is someone who is unsafe to know.

Comment by PDV on Melting Gold, and Organizational Capacity · 2018-01-14T04:22:59.987Z · LW · GW

I don't think the barrier to scaling is the practice, but the people. Large group experiences can't be narrowly custom-tailored because their aren't enough people in the target audience; small groups can. People who don't chafe at experiences that aren't narrowly custom-tailored are unlikely to become pagans.

Comment by PDV on Melting Gold, and Organizational Capacity · 2018-01-10T20:17:13.749Z · LW · GW

Huh. I don't share the intuition that it can't scale. As long as the improvising ringleaders are on the same page, why would it fail?

Comment by PDV on Insights from 'The Strategy of Conflict' · 2018-01-10T02:40:06.932Z · LW · GW

I was about to link my blog post on the same book from early last year, but apparently I never published or finished it. I still haven't finished it, but here's my post published anyway, some of it still in outline/note form. I latched onto several of the same insights, so thank you for writing them up properly.

Points and consequences of them I found interesting and compelling in my reading of it which are not already mentioned above:

The map, or at least the parts of the map known to be a shared map, are as important or more important than the territory in multiparty negotiations.

A great deal of how we conduct negotiations is subtly but heavily dependent on us being humans who think in human ways, our shared context. Consequence: negotiating with an uplifted cat would frazzle a skilled negotiator because of the amount of their experience that would be rendered unproductive or counterproductive.

Schelling cared far more about Schelling Fences (term only coined by Scott Alexander) than Schelling Points (term coined shortly after Schelling wrote).

Brinksmanship and the balance of terror never rationally incites an attack until the chance of someone's finger slipping and starting an attack by accident would incite an attack on its own.

Comment by PDV on Bay Solstice 2017: Thoughts · 2018-01-10T01:03:33.968Z · LW · GW

Specifically being narratives about things outside the world rather than inside it is deliberately disconnecting yourself from correction.

An ideology that may pass for an honest model of the world can be corrected by treating it as an honest model of the world and seeing whether it fails in that regard. If it is honest, this provides chances for it to be exposed as a self-sustaining ideology. If it is dishonest, deliberate work must be done to restrict it to the space of things that can withstand that inspection, scaling with the degree or scrutiny it may receive.

An ideology which has its grounding outside the world (all Abrahamic religions, Hinduism, every folk religious tradition I'm familiar with, debatably Buddhism, etc.), has neither of those good properties.

Or in short: Non-religious cultish ideologies are constrained to mimic the form of honesty to be considered honest, while religious ones are not.