Comment by raemon on Feature Request: Self-imposed Time Restrictions · 2019-05-21T02:12:00.496Z · score: 5 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Nod. I could see that. Agree with the "depends on whether we can find a reasonable place to put the link without adding noise" clause.

Comment by raemon on What are the open problems in Human Rationality? · 2019-05-21T01:16:01.861Z · score: 3 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Concretely: I'd be interested in Wei Dai or others turning the answers here into "Related Questions", which can then be actually answered.

(Noting that, for now, related questions are default be hidden from the frontpage, although admins can manually toggle them to be displayed, and they would appear in the Open Questions page and the Recent Discussion section).

Comment by raemon on Excerpts from a larger discussion about simulacra · 2019-05-21T00:57:29.371Z · score: 5 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I realize that elsethread you mentioned:

I think this isn't well-enough-understood to have a set of standardized terms yet. The implied request is to try to model these things in the world yourself, and start trying to talk about them, so that *eventually* the discourse self-corrects into a crisp model that doesn't imply absurdities like the "worlds" framework, and we can start naming things definitively. I don't expect this to happen in public.

Which makes sense. But since it's been brought up repeatedly as part of ongoing conversations, it seems worth making some kind of intermediate progress on helping people to grok the concept.

Comment by raemon on Excerpts from a larger discussion about simulacra · 2019-05-21T00:55:55.351Z · score: 13 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Note: awhile ago I added this to our "potential things to curate" list.

I don't really feel good about curating it as-is because a) it's not super optimized to be a clear introduction to the topic, b) I don't think the terminology as it currently is is that good, c) I think it could be a bit more clear about what it's epistemic status is. (Or rather, the epistemic status here is clearly 'random un-distilled conversation", but if it were distilled, it'd then become necessary to be more clear about what people are supposed to take away from it)

The ideas here have been brought up in other related discussions, enough such that I think there'd be value in putting the work into clarifying things better. I think it's valuable for "Curated" to be the place people read to keep up with "new building blocks" for current discussion, but another important characteristic is clarity.

None of this is meant to be an obligation, just a note that "if Ben (or perhaps Jessica) were to put the time into optimizing this to be a good introduction to the medium-term discourse, I'd be interested in curating that." (I checked with Habryka before posting this, did not run this particular comment by him but he indicated a similar viewpoint)

Comment by raemon on Feature Request: Self-imposed Time Restrictions · 2019-05-20T23:42:10.321Z · score: 5 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Some further thoughts: I think there are some areas where it makes sense for the LessWrong site to make proactive efforts. (I particularly raised concerns about the upcoming Recommendations section feeling a bit time-sinky)

But I also think, for features like the one described in the OP, it usually makes sense to solve that at a higher level up than "site-specific." i.e. if LessWrong lets you limit your time, but Facebook doesn't, you just end up using Facebook instead of LessWrong. If you want to limit time on LW it makes more sense to use tools like Freedom or SelfControl.

The place where it makes sense to me for the LW team to work on features like this would be "areas that require higher granularity", where you don't necessarily want to block all of LessWrong (because Freedom does a better job), but you do want to block or add trivial inconveniences to parts of LW that are particularly distracting (which Freedom can't do)

Comment by raemon on Comment section from 05/19/2019 · 2019-05-20T23:30:22.854Z · score: 14 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Worth noting: "werewolf" as a jargon term strikes me as something that is inevitably going to get collapsed into "generic bad actor" over time, if it gets used a lot. I'm assuming that you're thinking of it sort of as in the "preformal" stage, where it doesn't make sense to over-optimize the terminology. But if you're going to keep using it I think it'd make sense to come up with a term that's somewhat more robust against getting interpreted that way.

(random default suggestion: "obfuscator". Other options I came up with required multiple words to get the point across and ended up too convoluted. There might be a fun shorthand for a type of animal or mythological figure that is a) a predator or parasite, b) relies on making things cloudy. So far I could just come up with "squid" due to ink jets, but it didn't really have the right connotations)

Comment by raemon on Morality and relativistic vertigo · 2019-05-20T19:05:49.567Z · score: 3 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Just randomly stumbled upon this old post and found it to be one of the cleaner, most useful takes on the "is morality relative? What do we do with that? What role should science play in this?" debate.

Comment by raemon on Rob B's Shortform Feed · 2019-05-18T22:22:58.014Z · score: 3 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I can't speak for Rob but I'd be fine with my own shortform feed being included.

Comment by raemon on Disincentives for participating on LW/AF · 2019-05-18T22:11:02.620Z · score: 3 (1 votes) · LW · GW

But part of the problem aiming to be solved here is "the people who's conversations you want to record are busy, and don't actually get much direct benefit from having recorded or summarized their conversation, and one of the primary problems is anxiety about writing it up in a way that won't get misconstrued or turn out to be wrong later", and the whole point is to outsource the executive function to someone else.

And the executive function is actually a fairly high bar.

Comment by raemon on The Relationship Between the Village and the Mission · 2019-05-16T23:41:42.852Z · score: 7 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Note: while this thread is sort of relevant, and I think there are some productive ways for it to continue, I think there are many more unproductive ways to continue than productive ones.

As thread-owner, I'd say: "Feel free to continue this here if you have a specific confusion that needs resolving, that seems resolvable, or an outcome that you think is actually achievable to achieve. But don't just rehash a 8-year-old-argument without reflecting on your life choices and having some kind of goal. Err on the side of disengaging if you're not sure if you have a goal."

Comment by raemon on Why I've started using NoScript · 2019-05-16T18:59:05.066Z · score: 7 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Said's comment specifically addresses this.

Comment by raemon on The Relationship Between the Village and the Mission · 2019-05-16T18:44:29.876Z · score: 5 (2 votes) · LW · GW

30 minutes feels like roughly the upper bound. (And in any case, that's roughly the situation, whether you agree with my assessment of walking distance or not)

Comment by raemon on The Relationship Between the Village and the Mission · 2019-05-16T07:34:22.821Z · score: 12 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I have not heard anyone update starting from "this was okay" and then later "this was bad" direction. (If anyone happens to be reading along and had that experience this is as good a time as any to speak up)

(My recollection of your own experience, after coming to a Solstice once, was that you said something afterwards like "okay, yeah that was still cringey but less cringey than I thought. I *am* worried about the use of the Litany of Tarski." [which is no longer part of Solstice].

It seems like as good a time as any to check if that memory of mine is accurate).

Comment by raemon on The Relationship Between the Village and the Mission · 2019-05-16T01:27:23.483Z · score: 19 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Seems important to note that I endorse this comment. Obviously I think it was correct for Solstice to win the overton-window fight (otherwise I'd have made very different life choices). But it's important to be clear and honest about what happened, and yes, there were some people who were quite unhappy with it, some of whom left, and some of whom remained, quietly annoyed.

I do think it's also important to note that there are also people who were annoyed or worried initially, went to Solstice, and after a couple years updated to "yeah this isn't bad in the way I initially thought it was." (In both cases, the number of people who "still don't like it" and "have updated to 'it's fine'" that I have concretely observed are less than 10, so I'm hesitant to make many generalizations)

I do think Villiam's general claim of "if you propose a new thing, especially a new confusing thing, there's a good chance you'll get a disproportionate amount of vocal opposition compared to support" is true and noteworthy. (this isn't quite how they framed it initially and I'm not sure this is what they meant, but it is what I interpreted them to mean, if I interpreted wrong please correct me)

Comment by raemon on What is this new (?) Less Wrong feature? (“hidden related question”) · 2019-05-16T01:19:05.394Z · score: 13 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Alas – looks like I accidentally made what was supposed to be a hidden, internal-use-only field publicly accessible. (Upon reflection I'm actually sort of okay with users having the ability to toggle the flag, but if we were going to go down that route obviously I'd want to make it much more clear what it does, and build better UI for controlling it).

Over the past few weeks we've been quietly rolling out and trialing the Related Questions feature. It's been publicly available but we haven't announced it and mostly it's being used by members of the LessWrong team as we attempt to answer some complex questions, to verify that the Questions feature can be used the way we're hoping.

The basic idea is this: when answering a hard question, the first step is often to factor it into easier sub-questions – sometimes lots of subquestions, which helps you to frame your thinking about the problem. We want it to be easy to spawn 20 subquestions to a problem. But we don't want those 20 questions to show up on the frontpage as posts.

So, questions created through the "Related Question" UI element have their "hiddenRelatedQuestion" flag set to "true", which makes them not show up in primary post lists. (They still show up on the User's profile page, in Recent Discussion, and on the /questions page).

We recently rolled out some UI improvements to Related Questions to make it easier to see how sub-questions and sub-sub-questions will look. You can get a sense of it looking at lessestwrong, our "beta" site where we sometimes test things out.

The best example is here:

Or, the current version is here:

We have plans to make "hiddenRelatedQuestions" got toggled back to false in some circumstances (such as, the question getting highly upvoted). I think it's actually fine for users to manually set some of their related questions to show up on the frontpage, as long as it's an intentional choice and they don't spam it.

But, obviously, that field should not show up in it's current form, apologies for the weird extra field in your editor form. Will fix that soon.

Comment by raemon on Disincentives for participating on LW/AF · 2019-05-15T23:22:55.639Z · score: 5 (2 votes) · LW · GW
Not the top reason, but still... System of AF members vs. hoi polloi, omegas, etc. creates some subtle corruption/distortion field. My overall vague impression is the LW team generally tends to like solutions which look theoretically nice, and tends to not see subtler impacts on the elephants. Where my approach would be to try move much of the elephants-playing-status-game out of the way, what's attempted here sometimes feels a bit like herding elephants with small electric jolts

I'm not sure I understand this part, can you try restating the concern in different words?

Comment by raemon on Why I've started using NoScript · 2019-05-15T23:20:56.219Z · score: 5 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Just wanted to say thanks, this is helpful.

Comment by raemon on Data Analysis of LW: Activity Levels + Age Distribution of User Accounts · 2019-05-15T22:45:58.361Z · score: 3 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Author sees viewcount

Comment by raemon on Data Analysis of LW: Activity Levels + Age Distribution of User Accounts · 2019-05-15T21:35:08.774Z · score: 3 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I certainly can imagine local improvements people would get from having more information here, the question is whether you can implement the function without causing all the longterm distortions Habryka described.

An option is giving the feature to people with high karma so you have to demonstrate some acculturation before being handed Goodhart's Key, but honestly I'm not sure there are people, high karma or otherwise, who I really trust to remain impervious to the subtle pressure to write more clickbaity things, over time.

Comment by raemon on The Relationship Between the Village and the Mission · 2019-05-15T19:36:05.076Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW
People aren't going around explicitly swearing allegiance to rationality, but they are constantly signaling a truthseeking orientation through their behavior, such as by actively looking for other people's cruxes in conversation and indicating their own.

Yeah, this is roughly what I meant.

Comment by raemon on Boo votes, Yay NPS · 2019-05-15T18:48:09.945Z · score: 5 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I think this is particularly hard with posts, after the first few votes (esp. once someone has strong upvoted it). But I think it's easier with comments if you're paying attention, esp. if you see that your karma is fairly low but has a largish number of votes.

Comment by raemon on How to improve at critical thinking on science/medical literature? · 2019-05-14T23:36:11.057Z · score: 5 (2 votes) · LW · GW

FYI, found your links fairly confusing – would not have thought that each part of the "th"e"se" would link to a different thing, and would find it more useful to just briefly describe each link (with a couple words, a la "this post by Scott" and "this paper")

Comment by raemon on Boo votes, Yay NPS · 2019-05-14T23:27:12.185Z · score: 7 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I think whatever plan addresses the situation definitely needs to address that most people are much more lazy than you in this regard.

Comment by raemon on The Relationship Between the Village and the Mission · 2019-05-14T23:10:21.444Z · score: 3 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Nod. (FYI I'm not sure I have much to say about SF because I don't live there and don't know much about the constraints it's under, but I'm happy to chat about it and help brainstorm ideas or considerations)

Comment by raemon on The Relationship Between the Village and the Mission · 2019-05-14T23:08:23.553Z · score: 12 (6 votes) · LW · GW


BTW, I'm regretting trying to use the word Village for two different things, interested in people having suggestions:

Term 1: the thing where there's an organizing structure that prioritizes "being human" over Impact

Term 2: the thing where there's an organizing structure for 150+ people, which is necessarily shaped differently than the organizing structure for something that is 30-50 people.

Comment by raemon on The Relationship Between the Village and the Mission · 2019-05-14T20:52:33.237Z · score: 7 (3 votes) · LW · GW

"Real Mission Work" generally takes the form of an actual full-time job (many new projects start off as a weird scrappy hybrid of "random project / startup", but IMO basically the goal is to transition into serious fulltime work once you've demonstrated that you are capable enough to get funding)

Mission work varies in how much it's like a startup, and how much it's like an ordinary non-startup-job. Startup-like mission-orgs are probably hard to work at if you have kids. (I think I recall Paul Graham or someone claiming that you can pick two: Startup, Hobbies, Kids. So you might have kids but not otherwise have a life, and shouldn't have both parents be startup-ing)

I think I still generally agree with the points you make about keeping inactive people in the circle, and that a village without kids makes more sense to see through the Campus lens.

Comment by raemon on The Relationship Between the Village and the Mission · 2019-05-14T18:49:12.556Z · score: 18 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I figured I should be clearer about what I actual plan to be doing with all this:

1. I, personally, am trying to figure out a plan for improving the "Mission community", with moderately high fences. I think this is the right use of my current position and skillset. I do not yet have a plan.

1b. A subset of the above is seeing who is interested in contributing to a Mission community, and what particular things they are motivated to do. Who and what is available would determine what sort of plans are possible.

2. I want to help people who are interested in helping significantly with the village self-organize better. This involves a couple things:

2a. Getting a sense of who is already working on what.

2b. Getting a sense of who is available to put more energy into what.

2c. Getting a sense of what needs doing.

2d. Clarifying some of my own thinking on what failure modes to watch out for, and what experiments make sense to try next.

2e. The process of chatting with a bunch of people who are interested in contributing can then provide an opportunity to get people more aligned, such that people are working on projects that fit together synergistically.

2f. Providing mentorship/guidance in the domains where I feel like I have useful guidance to offer. (My own self-imposed rule is no longer be directly responsible for things in the village, but to contribute effort when I reasonably expect that effort to increase overall village longterm leadership capacity)

I still feel like the ideal solution is Archipelago – rather than trying to have one village and one mission, there should be multiple overlapping clusters aspiring towards different things. I think this is healthier both from a "variety" standpoint as well as avoiding certain kinds of political conflict. The problem with Archipelago is that it's very leadership constrained – you need people who can both uphold standards and help people to learn them, but also to provide value that makes those standards worth living up to, attracting people.

Some village-projects that I think make sense include:

  • Strengthening individual group houses (probably have an upcoming blogpost on this)
  • Running mid-size events that are relatively low effort (right now there are a couple major community events each year – Summer/Winter Solstice, and EA Global and CFAR Reunion. I think there could be at least 2 lower key spring/autumn events that are large but less effortful)
  • Scaling knowledge of how to interface with bureaucracy
Comment by raemon on The Relationship Between the Village and the Mission · 2019-05-14T18:35:42.129Z · score: 3 (1 votes) · LW · GW

(I think it may be correct to have multiple overlapping-and-or-concentric circles, where there's a village that's "Mission + friends/family/neighbors", which realistically also just grows organically over time)

And then there's something that maybe is better to call a "Mission community" than "Mission village" which isn't trying to be a village per se, but is just making sure that people involved in the Mission get the opportunity to connect more over Mission stuff specifically. (Which is probably less public facing, but which maybe occasionally has more open invite events so that people who are interested in transitioning into the Mission have opportunity to do so).

Comment by raemon on The Relationship Between the Village and the Mission · 2019-05-14T18:31:52.125Z · score: 3 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I agree that the village basically needs to be #1 (and could see a case for something broader than that)

Comment by raemon on The Relationship Between the Village and the Mission · 2019-05-14T18:29:26.191Z · score: 5 (2 votes) · LW · GW

This is an interesting take on it, and it resonated more strongly that I was expecting. It matches my personal experience (i.e it was not hard to notice little opportunities to incrementally increase my commitment to the mission, and if I was less interested, I might have drifted away instead).

But my impression is this is not true for everyone. One clearcut thing is that there's a certain threshold of agency and self-efficacy that someone needs to have demonstrated before I feel comfortable inviting them to mission-centric spaces (over the longterm), and I think I'm not alone in that. I think there are people who have "mixed competencies", where they've gotten good at some things but not others, and they want to be able to help the mission, and there are subtle and not-so-subtle social forces that push them away.

And I'm not sure there's anything wrong with that, but it seems important to acknowledge.

A major prompt for this post was reading Sarah's the Craft is Not The Community post, where my impression is that she hadn't run into rationality-community projects that actually seemed outward facing and valuable (and perhaps had run into a few projects that seemed to think themselves as being outward facing, but didn't actually seem that valuable).

It was weird to me that Sarah's social graph resulted in that experience.

This whole post was basically a reaction to that, where it seemed to me a) that I do in fact run into orgs trying to make real world results happen, b) my experience with the village has always been "helps you get ready for the Mission but isn't the Mission."

Comment by raemon on The Relationship Between the Village and the Mission · 2019-05-14T18:02:03.126Z · score: 13 (6 votes) · LW · GW

The Bay (Berkeley, Oakland, SF, South Bay)

Berkeley happens to be particularly village shaped, wherein housing is (relatively) affordable such that actually 100 people can live in walking distance to each other... and they do.

(Note: while I admittedly will probably not stick to this usage, part of the reason I coined 'The Village' for Berkeley in particular is because it's literally Village sized and village shaped, whereas other communities felt more like 'communities.')

I honestly think people in Oakland-in-particular should probably move to Berkeley – it makes more sense to concentrate the village than diversify there (unless they are specifically part of the Leverage Cluster in which they should move to Lake Merritt if they haven't already).

I definitely think there the SF community(ies) should continue to strengthen itself/themselves. (the meetup that Maia and Roger run seems to be going strong. I know of a couple good group houses). San Francisco seems to suffer a bit from "there's not an obvious place to cluster such that public transportation isn't a problem, and things are expensive which is quite limiting." I don't know enough about it to know what's strategically adviseable but if it's possible to coordinate better there I think people should.

Local Chapters

I think we already have something like "if you're a rationalist moving to a new city you should look for the local rationalist meetup", and that that makes sense as a model. There are some deeper problems that involve pressure to move towards major hubs once you get sufficiently agenty and mission-aligned, which I think need to be more thoroughly resolved.

Other Hubs

I know very little about other hubs – my sense is that only Berkeley ended up particularly "village-like" – Oxford and DC seem (from my vantage point) more like either a professional network (for Mission stuff) or a local club (for community-qua-community stuff). It's not obvious a priori that anyone else should be aspiring to be a "true village" – only that since Berkeley has already oriented in that direction, it should continue to consolidate it's efforts and try harder.

Comment by raemon on The Relationship Between the Village and the Mission · 2019-05-14T17:50:41.861Z · score: 7 (3 votes) · LW · GW

(I have thoughts on this, but probably makes sense to wait to comment here about it until it's at a point where a more fully public conversation is possible. My short take is 'I roughly agree that the dynamics Qiaochu is pointing at are real/important, but I don't think they apply universally – they feel less relevant to me personally, and I think there's something like competing access needs going on.')

Comment by raemon on Coherent decisions imply consistent utilities · 2019-05-14T02:22:46.190Z · score: 10 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I believe the intention was for this post to appear as part of a sequence that more clearly situated it as part of a series of re-posts from Arbital, but there were some mix-ups that made the sequence title not show up by default. I agree the current implementation is confusing.

Comment by raemon on The Relationship Between the Village and the Mission · 2019-05-13T20:13:25.831Z · score: 9 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Generally agreed that there's not enough funding and otherwise investment in rationality community building.

I deliberately defined the Mission fairly broadly – I think there's a sense in which anyone who's committed to making a dent in the universe, who is also dedicated to thinking clearly about it, while subscribing to reasonable cooperation norms, is (or could be) on the same team.

(As noted elsethread, my current best guess it that the village should focus on truthseeking, and the mission is basically truthseeking + impact, with an abstraction one-level higher than Effective Altruism. i.e. the mission includes EA, and includes at least some other things, but I'm less confident I can clearly articulate what they should be)

Comment by raemon on The Relationship Between the Village and the Mission · 2019-05-13T20:11:04.436Z · score: 5 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I have very preliminary thoughts, but as noted, it's a fairly fraught issue. I'll want to write about it at some point, hopefully soon (but can't promise that). Downside risk is high enough that I want to make sure to do a good job with it.

Comment by raemon on The Relationship Between the Village and the Mission · 2019-05-13T07:33:20.176Z · score: 8 (4 votes) · LW · GW

[note: still kinda braindumpy and not arguing very concretely]

Hmm. I agree that survivorship bias could easily be a force at play here, but not sure about some of your specific subclaims here. (I haven't read the books listed, although I think I've maybe read summaries of the Art of Not Being Governed. Will check out both of them)

There's two somewhat different things, which are "meeting people's needs in the moment" and "being stable/sustainable." Which do seem like when done right they should go hand in hand, but I'm not entirely sure it makes sense to be sustainable in the classical village sense. (A university is stable in ways different from a village, although many of the same mechanisms are there in some form)

Some of the things I've heard or encountered that played a role in my thinking (not all of these are necessarily countering your points, some are just painting a picture of where I'm coming from and clarifying what evidence I actually have that there's a real thing here).

1. A friend claiming that working on a military submarine, forced to work together with a small group of people in sardine can sized vessel, where if anyone of them fucked up they could be entombed in the sea, which he described as producing the tightest bonds he ever felt, which he expected to be hard to imagine. (This points a bit against single-occupation towns necessarily having any issues re: trust/stability. I do expect diverse occupations to be useful for other reasons though)

2. The fact that, at NYC Sunday Assembly (an attempted atheist church), ex-Christians describe how close their church was, how people would take care of each other, how they felt connected, and this was so good, and atheist communities were so mediocre, that for many of them their default course of action was to just keep hanging out in the religious communities 'cuz they were just better at it than the atheist communities.

3. A couple experiences I've had volunteering to maintain parks and gardens, which involved a lot of manual labor, while talking with other people in a local community which felt... really good and wholesome. It felt good to work with my hands, it felt good to work together. It was in fact quite weird and sad that at the end of the day, I said out loud "huh. So, that felt really good... and I feel like I should do that all the time, for my physical and emotional well being... and I can tell that I'm not going to, and am just going to get swept up into atomic individualist land again."

4. In general, hearing many people, from theater troupes to military people to people running events where a small team had to depend on each other, about the tight bonds they form.

5. Hearing descriptions of the MAPLE monastery where some rationalists have gone, and a cluster of dependability skills that it seemed to foster

6. Scott's description of his experience with communities in Concept Shaped Holes (both in seeing "real" communities that seemed to have something deep that he hadn't even known existed, and his experiences with the rationalist community demonstrating at least being somewhat closer to that end of the spectrum).

All of this seems to point to there being something real here, which does require effort to adapt to the 21st century, and require skill and sacrifice to implement even in it's usual form. But which... seems reasonably straightforward as far as things go. Atomic Libertarians might have a hard time implementing it but that's more of a fact about them than about it.

Comment by raemon on The Relationship Between the Village and the Mission · 2019-05-13T01:53:51.667Z · score: 16 (6 votes) · LW · GW

The epistemic concerns here (i.e. warping your perception of the mission / home / resistance to giving up either) are definitely the strongest argument I can see for making sure there is a non-mission-centered village.

I'm not sure I'm persuaded, though, because of the aforementioned "something needs to orient and drive the community." You could certainly pick something other than "The Mission." But whatever you pick, you're going to end up with something that you become overly attached to.

My actual best guess is that the village should be oriented around truthseeking and the mission oriented around [truthseeking and] impact.

I think if you are in the village and have bad epistemics, you should get at least subtle pressure to improve your epistemics (possibly less subtle pressure over time, especially if you are taking up memetic space). You should not receive pressure for being on board with the mission, but you should receive at least a little pressure to have thought a bit about the mission and have some kind of opinion about it that actually engages with it.

Another component here is to have more (healthy) competition among orgs. I'm still sorting out what this means when it comes to organizations that sort-of-want-to-be-natural-monopolies. But I think if there's only one org doing [rationality training / village infrastructure / communication infrastructure] then you're sort of forced to conflate "is this thing good?" with "is this org doing a good job" along with "am I good for supporting them?", which leads to weird bucket-errors.

Comment by raemon on The Relationship Between the Village and the Mission · 2019-05-13T01:04:12.583Z · score: 14 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Some alternate frames on all this, to help hedge against the "did Ray just anchor the whole discussion with the wrong frame?" possibility.

Professional / Non-Community

Epistemic professional peers

I was recently reading "How to Measure Anything", a book which AFAICT predates and is unentangled with LessWrong. HTMA is very straightforward and professional/academic – here are a series of tools for how to employ bayesian epistemology on real world projects with high stakes and murky territory.

The book gave me glimpse of an alternate world that could be (and perhaps is?) where there's not much oriented around "community", except insofar as most academic and professional disciplines have communities.

Professional Effective Altruism

The reason "professional bayesianism" doesn't feel sufficient to me is that it doesn't actually make sure the hard problems in the world get addressed. It actually requires not merely intellectual tools but a comprehensive worldview, deep models and goal-driven network to accomplish them.

On one hand, this doesn't need to be any more "community" like than working at Google (or perhaps a level up, Alphabet). On the other hand, Google seems to invest huge amounts of effort into making sure they have a good internal community.

In both lenses, individual organizations may make an effort to meet people's needs, but it probably won't do the "someone brings you soup if you're sick" thing.

The University

When chatting with Habryka, his alternate frame was more like an idealized university. There are very clear gatekeeping mechanisms for getting in (perhaps you pay money, perhaps you have to apply and meet some bar). Once in, you're there to study for a few years. There are many branching pathways of things to learn, and then there are many opportunities to self-organize into clubs, fraternities, etc.

There's an expectation that eventually you move on to some professional organization, or possibly moving into something like academia where you just figure things out without a direct profit goal.

In Habryka's frame, as I understand it (yo habryka feel free to write a version of this that articulates it better. :P), the University is Mission-Aligned. The official curriculum is of the form "study the particular disciplines you need to make serious progress on the Mission". There are various clubs that range from Mission-adjaecent (like Model UN) or random theater / craft / cultural clubs.

The Church and the Bulletin Board

Another subtly alternate frame from Village is Church.

"Village" vaguely implies that the primary connection is geographic and economic. To some extent, people trust each other because if people aren't literally plowing fields and blacksmithing and what-not, the village starves in the winter.

"Church" is something that can continues to succeed even in a large town or city where people come and go more easily (although I'm not confident this is a stable arrangement – once you have large cities, atomic individualism and the gradual erosion of Church might be inevitable)

To be a member of a church, you are expected to tithe, and to show up at mass every Sunday. You listen to sermons that establish common knowledge of what your people do-and-don't-do. You recite words that most likely have some affect on your psychology even if you don't literally believe them.

The church is designed to scale – large numbers of people in pews facing a single priest. (There are alternate arrangements like pagan circles that don't scale as well that require higher skill on the part of participants). A crowd of people, many of whom haven't met, can participate, without newbies messing anything up.

During church, people who are going through hard times, or who have passed particular milestones, are mentioned and prayed for.

Once you get inside the church, there is a bulletin board, that includes a bunch of activities like soup kitchen volunteer, bible study, choir practice, and maybe less relevant things like bingo night. Many of these provide sub-communities that are easy to get involved but require real work and commitment to excel at.

If you are sick, or recently had a funeral, someone literally brings you soup.

There is a natural "minimum membership" (wherein you get soup if you're sick, but aren't necessarily high status), and the cost for that is 10% of your income and a whole lot of time. I'm guessing (but am not confident, I've never been to church for an extended period) that there is additional belonging/social-support/power that you get if you prove yourself a useful and/or fun member of the community.

What are some "Communities and Cultures Different From Our Own?"

2019-05-12T22:03:42.590Z · score: 30 (13 votes)
Comment by raemon on The Relationship Between the Village and the Mission · 2019-05-12T21:42:55.147Z · score: 19 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I was fairly hesitant to post this. A couple beta-readers pointed out that reifying "village" and "mission" in this way might anchor people, or create factionalization, in a way that caused more problems than it solved.

I also realized, during a second draft, that I didn't have a clear cut goal with this essay. There is neither a clear principle I wanted people to understand, nor a particular action I wanted them to take. And meanwhile this essay is sort of throwing a politically charged concept into the eco-system, which I may not have the time to properly defend or ensure gets "used for good."

I spent a few hours thinking "okay, I guess maybe I just won't post it" and awarding myself Virtue of Silence points.

Obviously those points are retracted now. :P

I went ahead and posted it for two reasons:

I think the concept of the Village and the Mission do accurately describe what is currently happening. Even if they aren't the right frame of what should be happening, it's important to start with a realistic map.

Second, the whole reason I wrote this up this week (I've been putting off writing this for a year), is having recently had a couple conversations wherein the first thing I had to do was summarize this entire post, to get people up to speed on where I was coming from.

I settled on tagging the post more clearly as a braindump. I'll try to write up some alternate frames on how to look at the entire system to avoid overly anchoring on the Village/Mission breakdown.

The Relationship Between the Village and the Mission

2019-05-12T21:09:31.513Z · score: 132 (32 votes)
Comment by raemon on Habryka's Shortform Feed · 2019-05-12T02:57:08.357Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Just wanted to say I like this a lot and think it'd be fine as a full fledged post. :)

Comment by raemon on Disincentives for participating on LW/AF · 2019-05-11T20:46:50.085Z · score: 5 (2 votes) · LW · GW

"soon afterwards" was meant to be more of a throwaway qualifier than a main point. The claim (not made my me and I'm not sure if I endorse it) is that the people who can write up the transcripts effectively (esp. if there's any kind of distillation work going on) would already have more important things they are already capable of doing.

Comment by raemon on Disincentives for participating on LW/AF · 2019-05-11T19:29:24.695Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · LW · GW

(this whole concept is part of why I'm bullish on LW shifting to focus more on questions than posts)

Comment by raemon on Disincentives for participating on LW/AF · 2019-05-11T19:27:16.292Z · score: 16 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Curious how big each of these active ingredients seemed, or if there were other active ingredients:

1) the privacy (not having any expectation that any onlookers would need to understand what you were saying)

2) the format (linear column of chats, with a small textbox that subtly shaped how much you said at a time)

3) not having other people talking (so you don't have to stop and pay attention to them)

4) the realtime nature (wherein you expect to get responses quickly, which allows for faster back-and-forth and checking that you are both on the same page before moving to the next point)

The overall problem with the status quo is that private conversations are worse for onboarding new people into the AI space. So I think it's quite likely that the best way to improve this is to facilitate private conversations, and them either make them public or distill them afterwards. But there are different ways to go about that depending on which elements are most important.

Comment by raemon on Open Thread May 2019 · 2019-05-11T19:25:57.541Z · score: 3 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Do we have multiple pictures of atoms that are different colors? Is there a link to more context that clarifies if this picture has anything to do with visible light vs an arbitrary way of displaying information after-the-fact?

(Intended as serious question, not a gotcha. I don't know much about how we look at atoms)

Comment by raemon on Disincentives for participating on LW/AF · 2019-05-11T18:25:23.294Z · score: 9 (4 votes) · LW · GW

See Writing that Provokes Comments.

Comment by raemon on Disincentives for participating on LW/AF · 2019-05-11T02:07:25.238Z · score: 10 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, I think this is actually probably a decent solution, with one caveat being that people who have the background knowledge to effectively summarize the conversation probably (soon afterwards) have the skills necessary to do other things. (At least, this is what someone claimed when I asked them about the idea)

Comment by raemon on Chapter 1: A Day of Very Low Probability · 2019-05-10T23:40:51.877Z · score: 3 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The comments are using rot13, a simple code which we use (among other things) for avoiding spoilers.

Comment by raemon on Disincentives for participating on LW/AF · 2019-05-10T23:02:08.128Z · score: 3 (1 votes) · LW · GW

a) Do you have a sense that these people think of LW/AF as a/the primary nexus for discussion alignment-related issues? (but didn't either because they didn't expect to get much benefit, or would endure too much cost)

b) I don't actually know if there's any other actual locus of conversation happening anywhere other than individual private google docs, curious if you know of any such thing? (such as mailing lists. Not asking for the specific details of any such mailing list, just wanting to check if such a thing exists at all).

Agree that the onboarding experience should be much better, one way or another.

Comment by raemon on Disincentives for participating on LW/AF · 2019-05-10T20:28:40.796Z · score: 9 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I definitely expect there to be lot of room for improvement here – each of the areas you point to is something we've talked about.

One quick check (too late in this case, but fairly high priority to figure out IMO) is "do they even think of LW as a place they should have considered reading?"

A thing I'd been considering for awhile is "make an actual alignment subforum on LessWrong", which includes both the high signal official AlignmentForum posts, as well as other random posts about alignment, so that if you've come to LessWrong explicitly for AI you can see everything relevant.

Meanwhile my guess is at least some of those people showed up on LessWrong, saw a bunch of random posts irrelevant to them, and then bounced off. (And meanwhile showed up on and saw less commenting activity, although I'm not sure how big a deal that'd be)

(there's a question of what you'd want such a subforum to include – there's a carving that looks more like "math stuff" and there's a carving that includes things like AI policy or whatever. Also it's sort of awkward to have the two places to hang out be "The AlignmentForum" and "The Alignment Subforum [of LessWrong]")

Comment by raemon on How To Use Bureaucracies · 2019-05-10T15:00:21.110Z · score: 5 (2 votes) · LW · GW

This all makes sense, just doesn't seem to me to be in conflict with the OP.

I don't know much about the US DHS, but a few obvious things that pop into mind:

  • In the schema of the OP, a large bureaucracy is harder to make an effective bureaucracy (for the same reason a large codebase is more likely to have bugs). Especially if that bureaucracy was created quickly. Even if it has a competent owner, it's just a harder task.
  • The DHS wasn't created in a vacuum, it was created a) as part of a weird political situation, b) I suspect it was also to some extent created by existing bureaucracies. I have little reason to believe that the stated goal of the DHS was ever the actual goal. I don't think it "got immediately compromised", my guess is it was compromised from conception. (But, I don't know a whole lot about it and wouldn't be that surprised if my guesses were off)

Something that the OP doesn't delve into much (and I do think makes it incomplete) is that bureaucracies might have multiple owners.

Just like a codebase is more likely to run into problems if it's being created by multiple teams with multiple goals, esp. if those people aren't aligned with each other, it'd make sense for bureaucracy goals to have degrees of coherence, depending on whether they were created by a single person or as part of political compromise.

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2019-05-05T19:57:42.756Z · score: 24 (6 votes)

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2019-05-03T04:49:10.287Z · score: 26 (5 votes)

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2019-04-16T22:57:07.704Z · score: 45 (14 votes)

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2019-04-16T22:22:19.784Z · score: 44 (11 votes)

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2019-04-04T19:12:26.826Z · score: 58 (18 votes)

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2019-04-02T23:48:11.555Z · score: 52 (12 votes)

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2019-03-28T20:07:48.747Z · score: 48 (14 votes)

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2019-03-26T04:30:59.104Z · score: 55 (20 votes)

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2019-03-24T22:16:04.974Z · score: 114 (44 votes)

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2019-03-12T20:30:18.806Z · score: 55 (20 votes)

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2019-03-09T01:23:05.560Z · score: 44 (13 votes)

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2019-03-03T21:46:59.132Z · score: 42 (8 votes)

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2019-02-25T21:23:03.476Z · score: 12 (3 votes)

How could "Kickstarter for Inadequate Equilibria" be used for evil or turn out to be net-negative?

2019-02-21T21:36:07.707Z · score: 25 (9 votes)

If a "Kickstarter for Inadequate Equlibria" was built, do you have a concrete inadequate equilibrium to fix?

2019-02-21T21:32:56.366Z · score: 51 (17 votes)

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2019-02-17T23:37:16.986Z · score: 50 (18 votes)

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2019-02-08T19:34:33.993Z · score: 31 (10 votes)

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2019-01-22T02:45:01.211Z · score: 17 (6 votes)

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2019-01-13T04:46:38.581Z · score: 60 (18 votes)

LW Update 2019-1-09 – Question Updates, UserProfile Sorting

2019-01-09T22:34:31.338Z · score: 30 (6 votes)

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2019-01-09T20:25:02.716Z · score: 24 (6 votes)

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2019-01-02T02:30:06.788Z · score: 16 (5 votes)

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2019-01-01T21:29:37.599Z · score: 30 (8 votes)

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2018-12-31T01:15:17.307Z · score: 26 (7 votes)

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2018-12-27T19:53:35.436Z · score: 27 (9 votes)

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2018-12-18T20:51:31.183Z · score: 39 (11 votes)

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2018-12-10T10:50:33.960Z · score: 39 (13 votes)

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2018-12-08T21:30:13.874Z · score: 18 (3 votes)

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2018-12-08T17:41:33.775Z · score: 24 (7 votes)

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2018-12-08T00:47:09.267Z · score: 58 (14 votes)

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2018-12-05T20:39:34.687Z · score: 59 (22 votes)

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2018-12-01T23:16:23.249Z · score: 21 (6 votes)

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2018-11-28T03:09:44.938Z · score: 55 (17 votes)

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2018-11-24T01:39:33.385Z · score: 43 (14 votes)

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2018-11-22T22:11:10.960Z · score: 12 (8 votes)

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2018-10-29T21:07:54.494Z · score: 89 (30 votes)

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2018-10-25T23:13:00.775Z · score: 23 (5 votes)

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2018-10-06T20:09:32.257Z · score: 25 (7 votes)

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2018-10-04T21:58:25.522Z · score: 66 (29 votes)

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2018-10-01T21:28:47.017Z · score: 34 (8 votes)

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2018-09-20T18:48:59.140Z · score: 67 (22 votes)

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2018-09-19T00:30:57.974Z · score: 32 (8 votes)

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2018-09-12T19:06:57.443Z · score: 31 (12 votes)

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2018-08-24T02:02:30.916Z · score: 20 (7 votes)

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2018-08-21T20:22:45.687Z · score: 39 (14 votes)

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2018-08-12T05:11:06.715Z · score: 45 (16 votes)

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2018-08-03T23:39:48.114Z · score: 25 (7 votes)

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2018-07-28T18:27:06.763Z · score: 113 (53 votes)