Comment by randaly on A new, better way to read the Sequences · 2017-06-04T07:49:28.193Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Homepage seems to lack links to the last two books.

Comment by randaly on The engineer and the diplomat · 2016-12-31T11:01:21.451Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Now, imagine you’re a diplomat, at a diplomatic conference. You see a group of diplomats, including someone representing one of your allies, in an intense conversation. They’re asking the allied diplomat questions, and your ally obviously has to think hard to answer them. Your intuition is going to be that something bad is happening here, and you want to derail it at all costs.

Source? I feel very, very confident that this is false. You would only want to break things up if you felt very confident that your ally would screw up answering the questions; otherwise, having lots of people paying careful attention to your side's proposals would be a very good sign.

Comment by randaly on LessWrong Diplomacy Game 2015 · 2015-07-20T17:29:47.188Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

In, now.

Comment by randaly on I've had it with those dark rumours about our culture rigorously suppressing opinions · 2015-07-18T13:09:50.665Z · score: 3 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Literally every sentence you wrote is wrong.

The worst crimes of the holocaust were a conspiracy within the Nazi government.

This is not true. The Holocaust was ordered by the popular leader of the German government; they were executed by a very large number of people, probably >90% of whom actively cooperated and almost none of whom tried to stop the Holocaust. (see e.g. Christopher Browning's Ordinary Men) German society as a whole knew that their government was attempting genocide; see e.g. What We Knew for supporting details, or Wikipedia for a summary.

(It is at least not totally impossible that the gas chambers were unknown to the broader German public. But the idea that gas chambers are representative of the Holocaust is a historical myth; most victims of the Holocaust were not killed by gas.)

The Nuremburg trials had testimony from an investigator who was attempting to prove his suspicions of these practices, and ultimately prosecute the offenders who were killing the Jews.

This is wrong. (This is kinda a refrain; your Nazi apologia is lacking in sources or historical accuracy.) I assume you're referring to Georg Konrad Morgen; if so, he did prosecute the people killing the Jews, but not for the genocide; he said, correctly, that the Final Solution was 'technically legal'. His prosecutions instead focused on the ordinary crimes (e.g. corruption).

It is likely that only a few hundred Germans were directly involved.

Again, this is just flat out wrong, in a way that shows that you have no idea what you're talking about. Auschwitz alone had ~7,000 camp guards during the war; there were around 55,000 concentration camp guards total. Again, I suggest that you read Ordinary Men, about the ~500 men of Reserve Police Battalion, who killed an estimated ~38,000 Jews. (There were about 17,500+ members of the Reserve Police Battalions, plus another 3,000+ members of the Einsatzgruppen.) There also numerous other SS/Ghestapo/Wehrmacht personnel directly involved beyond the three specific groups I've named.

Comment by randaly on Philosophy professors fail on basic philosophy problems · 2015-07-17T10:37:52.379Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

All of these are plausibly true of art departments at universities as well. (The first two are a bit iffy.)

Comment by randaly on Effective Altruism from XYZ perspective · 2015-07-12T11:38:06.685Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks, this helped me!

Comment by randaly on If you can see the box, you can open the box · 2015-02-28T21:58:43.971Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

As I understand it, the mainstream interpretation of that document is not that Bin Laden is attacking America for its freedom; rather, AQ's war aims were the following:

  • End US support of Israel (also, Russia and India)
  • End the presence of US troops in the Middle East (especially Israel)
  • End US support for Muslim apostate dictators

See, e.g., this wikipedia article, or The Looming Tower. Eliezer is correct that AQ's attacks were not caused by AQ's hted of American freedoms.

Comment by randaly on Compartmentalizing: Effective Altruism and Abortion · 2015-01-06T07:05:21.157Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The argument doesn't understand what the moral uncertainty is over; it's taking moral uncertainty over whether fetuses are people in the standard quasi-deontological framework and trying to translate it into a total utilitarian framework, which winds up with fairly silly math (what could the 70% possibly refer to? Not to the value of the future person's life years- nobody disputes that once a person is alive, their life has normal, 100% value.)

Comment by randaly on What false beliefs have you held and why were you wrong? · 2014-10-19T08:56:11.839Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

No I'm not. The Fizzbuzz article cited above is a wiki article. It is not based on original research, and draws from other articles. You will find the article I linked to linked to in a quote at the top of the first article in the 'articles' section of the wiki article; it is indeed the original source for the claim.

Comment by randaly on What false beliefs have you held and why were you wrong? · 2014-10-19T06:58:59.558Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The quote does not claim there has been no filtering done before the interview stage. If you read the original source it explicitly states that it is considering all aplicants, not only those who make it to the interview stage: "We get between 100 and 200 [resumes] per opening."

Comment by randaly on What false beliefs have you held and why were you wrong? · 2014-10-18T01:54:09.938Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

You seem to be confusing applicants with people who are given interviews. Typically less than half of applicants even make it to the interview stage- sometimes much, much less than half.

There's also enough evidence out there to say that this level of applicants is common. Starbucks had over a hundred applicants for each position it offered recently; Proctor and Gamble had around 500. This guy also says it's common for programmers.

Comment by randaly on What false beliefs have you held and why were you wrong? · 2014-10-17T20:58:40.387Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

unless you believe more than 100 people on the average get interviewed before anyone is hired

This is accurate for the top companies- as of 2011, Google interviewed over 300 people for each spot filled. Many of these people were plausibly interviewed multiple times, or for multiple positions.

Comment by randaly on What false beliefs have you held and why were you wrong? · 2014-10-17T19:06:48.936Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Maybe, but this is the exact opposite of polymath's claim- not that fighting a modern state is so difficult as to be impossible, but that fighting one is sufficiently simple that starting out without any weapons is not a significant handicap.

(The proposed causal impact of gun ownership on rebellion is more guns -> more willingness to actually fight against a dictator (acquiring a weapon is step that will stop many people who would otherwise rebel from doing so) -> more likelihood that government allies defect -> more likelihood that the government falls. I'm not sure if I endorse this, but polymath's claim is definitely wrong.)

(As an aside, this is historically inaccurate: almost all of the weapons in Syria and Libya came either from defections from their official militaries (especially in Libya), or from foreign donors, not from private purchases. However, private purchases were important in Mexico and Ireland.)

Comment by randaly on What false beliefs have you held and why were you wrong? · 2014-10-17T06:36:57.844Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The Syrians and Libyans seem to have done OK for themselves. Iraq and likely Afghanistan were technically wins for our nuclear and drone-armed state, but both were only marginal victories, Iraq was a fairly near run thing, and in neither case were significant defections from the US military a plausible scenario.

Comment by randaly on Open thread, Sept. 29 - Oct.5, 2014 · 2014-09-29T22:07:52.610Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

SlateStarCodex.

Comment by randaly on Open thread, Sept. 29 - Oct.5, 2014 · 2014-09-29T22:06:15.696Z · score: 13 (13 votes) · LW · GW

We can know that other amphibious assaults probably had lower or neglible friendly fire rates, because some other landings (some opposed) had absolutely lower rates of casulaties- e.g here, here, and here.

Comment by randaly on Depth-based supercontroller objectives, take 2 · 2014-09-25T00:55:53.879Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks for your response!

1) Hmmm. OK, this is pretty counter-intuitive to me.

2) I'm not totally sure what you mean here. But, to give a concrete example, suppose that the most moral thing to do would be to tile the universe with very happy kittens (or something). CEV, as I understand, would create as many of these as possible, with its finite resources; whereas g/g* would try to create much more complicated structures than kittens.

3) Sorry, I don't think I was very clear. To clarify: once you've specified h, a superset of human essence, why would you apply the particular functions g/g to h? Why not just directly program in 'do not let h cease to exist'? g/g do get around the problem of specifying 'cease to exist', but this seems pretty insignificant compared to the difficulty of specifying h. And unlike with programming a supercontroller to preserve an entire superset of human essence, g/g* might wind up with the supercontroller focused on some parts of h that are not part of the human essence- so it doesn't completely solve the definition of 'cease to exist'.

(You said above that h is an improvement because it is a superset of human essence. But we can equally program a supercontroller not to let a superset of human essence cease to exist, once we've specified said superset.)

Comment by randaly on Depth-based supercontroller objectives, take 2 · 2014-09-24T02:25:43.350Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Note: I may have badly misunderstood this, as I am not familiar with the notion of logical depth. Sorry if I have!

I found this post's arguments to be much more comprehensible than your previous ones; thanks so much for taking the time to rewrite them. With that said, I see three problems:

1) '-D(u/h)' optimizes for human understanding of (or, more precisely, human information of) the universe, such that given humans you can efficiently get out a description of the rest of the universe. This also ensures that whatever h is defined as continues to exist. But many (indeed, even almost all) humans values aren't about entanglement with the universe. Because h isn't defined explicitly, it's tough for me to state a concrete scenario where this goes wrong. (This isn't a criticism of the definition of h, I agree with your decision not to try to tightly specify it.) But, e.g. it's easy to imagine that humans having any degree of freedom would be inefficient, so people would end drug-addled, in pods, with videos and audio playing continuously to put lots of carefully selected information into the humans. This strikes me as a poor outcome.

2) Some people (e.g. David Pearce (?) or MTGandP) argue that the best possible outcome is essentially tiled- that rather than have large and complicated beings human-scale or larger, it would be better to have huge numbers of micro-scale happy beings. I disagree, but I'm not absolutely certain, and I don't think we can rule out this scenario without explicitly or implicitly engaging with it.

3) As I understand it, in 3.1 you state that you aren't claiming that g is an optimal objective function, just that it leaves humans alive. But in this case 'h', which was not ever explicitly defined, is doing almost all of the work: g is guaranteed to preserve 'h', which you verbally identified with the physical state of humanity. But because you haven't offered a completely precise definition of humanity here, what the function as described above would preserve is 'a representation of the physical state of humanity including its biological makeup--DNA and neural architecture--as well as its cultural and technological accomplishments'. This doesn't strike me as a significant improvement from simply directly programming in that humans should survive, for whatever definition of humans/humanity selected; while it leaves the supercontroller with different incentives, in neither scenario are said incentives aligned with human morality.

(My intuition regarding g* is even less reliable than my intuition regarding g; but I think all 3 points above still apply.)

Comment by randaly on LessWrong's attitude towards AI research · 2014-09-23T20:57:05.198Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

They are posted here.

IMHO, good starting points are 'Definiability of Truth in Probabilistic Logic' and 'Robust Cooperation in the Prisoner's Dilemma'.

Comment by randaly on Calibrating your probability estimates of world events: Russia vs Ukraine, 6 months later. · 2014-08-31T00:21:24.029Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I, and presumably shminux as well, though that you were claiming that there's actually a good chance that Obama actually does want to see the American 'empire' collapse, not that Putin thought that he would.

Comment by randaly on Why don't more rationalists start startups? · 2014-01-20T19:00:13.129Z · score: 7 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Serial entrepreneurs are no more likely to succeed than first time entrepreneurs.

Comment by randaly on Why don't more rationalists start startups? · 2014-01-20T07:42:03.124Z · score: 18 (20 votes) · LW · GW

You're taking a very inside-view approach to analyzing something that you have no direct experience with. (Assuming you don't.) This isn't a winning approach. Outside view predicts that 90% of startups will fail.

Startups' high reward is associated with high risk. But most people are risk averse, and insurance schemes create moral hazard.

Comment by randaly on Open Thread for January 8 - 16 2014 · 2014-01-14T15:59:14.462Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

re: public speaking: There are in person groups like Toastmasters. Alternately, you can record yourself speaking about something and try to give yourself a self-critique.

Here's an exercise I've run before: Person 1 picks a word at random; Person 2 immediately starting speaking about something relevant. At 15 second intervals for 1-2 minutes, Person 1 throws out new words; Person 2 needs to keep speaking about the new words, and to flow smoothly between topics. (You can substitute Wikipedia's random article button for Person 1.)

Comment by randaly on Rationality Quotes December 2013 · 2013-12-25T08:53:08.799Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Most of the ancients that people pay attention to these days are ... well-fed

You mean well-fed in the sense of "not starving," but that doesn't imply "well-fed" in the sense of eating a healthy diet. There's reason to think that upper-class Romans would have been even more damaged by lead poisoning than the poor, and there's good evidence that even emperors were deficient in iodine.

Comment by Randaly on [deleted post] 2013-12-11T14:10:36.341Z

The obvious way to pull the rope sideways on this issue is to advocate for replacing conventional nuclear devices with neutron bombs.

Comment by randaly on 2013 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2013-11-22T09:08:29.568Z · score: 36 (36 votes) · LW · GW

Taken.

Comment by randaly on Yes, Virginia, You Can Be 99.99% (Or More!) Certain That 53 Is Prime · 2013-11-07T16:57:57.241Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

It seems, I dunno, kind of a frequentist way of thinking about the probability that I'm wrong.

There are numerous studies that show that our brain's natural way of thinking out probabilities is in terms of frequencies, and that people show less bias when presented with frequencies than when they are presented with percentages.

Comment by randaly on Rationality Quotes November 2013 · 2013-11-04T02:38:33.555Z · score: 15 (19 votes) · LW · GW

His claim was:

(a) Everybody knew that different ethnicities had different brain sizes (b) It was an uncomfortable fact, so nobody talked about it (c) Now nobody knows that different ethnicities have different brain sizes

Comment by randaly on Rationality Quotes November 2013 · 2013-11-03T11:09:46.411Z · score: 13 (17 votes) · LW · GW

His stated point is about telling things that everybody is supposed to know.

No, that was absolutely not his point. I don't understand how you could have come away thinking that- literally the entire next paragraph directly stated the exact opposite:

Graduate students in anthropology generally don’t know those facts about average brain volume in different populations. Some of those students stumbled onto claims about such differences and emailed a physical anthropologist I know, asking if those differences really exist. He tells them ‘yep’ – I’m not sure what happens next. Most likely they keep their mouths shut. Ain’t it great, living in a free country?

More generally, that was not a tightly reasoned book/paper about brainsize. That line was a throwaway point in support of a minor example ("For example, average brain size is not the same in all human populations") on a short blog post. Arguments about the number of significant figures presented, when you don't even disagree about the overall example or the conclusion, are about as good an example of bad disagreement as I can imagine.

Comment by randaly on Rationality Quotes November 2013 · 2013-11-03T08:47:44.453Z · score: 4 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Source is here. SD for Asians and Europeans is 35, SD for Africans was 85. N=20,000.

What's wrong here? 4 degrees of accuracy for brain size and no error bars? That's a sign of someone being either intentionally or unintentionally dishonest.

...no? Why in the world would he present error bars? The numbers are in line with other studies, without massive uncertainty, and irrelevant to his actual, stated and quoted, point.

Comment by randaly on Rationality Quotes November 2013 · 2013-11-03T08:36:56.676Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I also dispute this- obvious cases include partial disagreement and partial agreement between parties, somebody who is simply silent or who says nothing of substance, and someone who is themself trying to learn from you/the other side.

(In particular, consider a debate between a biologist and the Pope on evolution. I would expect the Pope to be neither offensive nor defensive- though I'm not totally clear on the distinction here, and how a debater can be neither- but I would expect to learn much more from the biologist than the Pope.)

Comment by randaly on Why officers vs. enlisted? · 2013-11-01T19:15:07.665Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Actually, one of the sources you just linked (Wikibooks) states that officers were usually promoted from the ranks:

They were generally moved up from the ranks, but in some cases could be direct appointments from the Emperor or other higher ranking officials.

For further sources saying the same thing, see here, here, here, or here. See also this:

The most significant step in any successful army career of a Roman plebeian was the promotion to the centurionate. To become a centurion meant having become an officer. The main supply for the centurionate of the legions did indeed come from the ordinary men from the ranks of the legion. Though there was a significant number of centurions from the equestrian rank. Some of the late emperors of the empire prove very rare examples of ordinary soldiers who rose all the way through the ranks to become high-ranking commanders. But in general the rank of primus pilus, the most senior centurion in a legion, was as high as a ordinary man could reach.

Comment by randaly on Why officers vs. enlisted? · 2013-11-01T02:40:39.425Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Historically, the distinction was based on social classes, but that doesn't explain why every army follows this arrangement, including those in very different societies.

The claim that all societies use this model is inaccurate. The counterexample that springs to mind is the Roman army; I'm fairly certain that there are plenty more.

Comment by randaly on The best 15 words · 2013-10-09T16:51:39.859Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I endorse Lumifer's reason. Other reasons would include less patriotism (as I understand, loyalties in much of Africa are to tribes/clans/families rather than a nationstate, religion, or ideology, so bringing your family abroad of going abroad to look for money would be less of a shift) and less perceived safety (e.g. apparently 75% of Ethiopia's skilled laborers moved abroad during its famines).

Comment by randaly on The best 15 words · 2013-10-09T11:50:48.264Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I am Randaly; I didn't know that specific information before, but it did not surprise me. My understanding was that phenomenon of brain drain is fairly well known.

Comment by randaly on The best 15 words · 2013-10-09T07:23:32.183Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

FWIW, your model is really badly broken if you didn't expect this- I would expect even most racist models (or, at least, my Turing-test-passing attempts at racist models) to predict this.

Comment by randaly on The best 15 words · 2013-10-09T07:20:04.124Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Nah, I was deliberately ignoring the other half. The fact that one part of Multiheaded's comment was correct (though, AFAICT, irrelevant to the above discussion) doesn't mean that the other part (regarding economic determinism) is too.

Comment by randaly on The best 15 words · 2013-10-09T07:16:07.236Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

See here.

Comment by randaly on The best 15 words · 2013-10-09T01:34:24.558Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I cannot see how it is different then a mix of historical materialism and economic determinism. Please elaborate.

Economic determinism refers specifically to the economic structure. The basic outlines of the US's economic structure have not changed since at least the 1930's, and arguably even earlier. The development of TV, the internet, or for that matter the printing press, are all changes in technology, not changes in a society's economic structure. Marx, for example, was not a technological determinist; Yvain et. al. are not economic determinists. Changing an economic structure is significantly easier than destroying all technology and preventing new developments.

Other stuff

In that case, I switch this critique to 'sub-optimal style'- i.e. it was difficult for me to tell who Multiheaded was addressing and how his point was relevant.

Comment by randaly on The best 15 words · 2013-10-08T23:27:50.900Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Neither of the above. Your comment's style was suboptimal, technological determinism is different from economic determinism, and the neo-reactionary position is neither. (This is obvious from the fact that they think that they can reverse the left-ward trend of history, but that it will take a concentrated effort.)

(I did not downvote.)

Comment by randaly on Welcome to Less Wrong! (5th thread, March 2013) · 2013-09-28T22:21:59.932Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

This is evidence that arguments-from-morality do persuade people, not that they should.

Comment by randaly on Welcome to Less Wrong! (5th thread, March 2013) · 2013-09-28T21:16:47.954Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I did not find The Devil's Delusion to be persuasive/good at all. It's scientific quality is perhaps best summarized by noting that Berlinski is an opponent of evolution; I also recall that Berlinski spent an enormous amount of time on the (irrelevant) topic of whether some atheists had been evil.

ETA: Actually, now that I think about, The Devil's Delusion is probably why I tend to ignore or look down on atheists who spend lots of time arguing that God would be evil (e.g. Christopher Hitchens or Sam Harris)- I feel like they're making the same mistake, but on the opposite side.

Comment by randaly on Why aren't there more forum-blogs like LW? · 2013-09-27T07:33:17.108Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

please consider converting your blog into a forum-blog in the style of LW.

This strikes me as somewhat technically difficult: AFAIK, there's no equivalent of Wordpress for Reddit's source code.

Comment by randaly on Open Thread, September 23-29, 2013 · 2013-09-24T04:15:41.185Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Disagree with theists that people have ontologically basic souls; further disagree with the claim that the 'ontologically basic' / 'supernatural' aspect of a god is unimportant to its definition.

(What theists think is not relevant to a question about the beliefs of people who not self-identify as theists.)

Comment by randaly on Open Thread, September 23-29, 2013 · 2013-09-24T04:03:59.448Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Yes. I disagree with them.

(Eliminating the supernatural aspect explains the human mind, and explains away God.)

Comment by randaly on What did governments get right? Gotta list them all! · 2013-09-20T03:01:12.865Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW
  • NSA stuff is classified because its release would alert others to the US's capabilities; the fact of an accident would not
  • One would expect the USSR to be equally eager to classify their mistakes, and to have greater success; they are believed to have failed utterly
  • Any argument in favor of classifying nuclear accidents would apply equally to the Thresher, Scorpion, Guitarro, San Francisco, and Miami, for which no serious attempt was made at classification
  • Nuclear accidents, judging by the USSR's experience, almost always involve the loss of an entire ship, and many fatalities. It is not possibly for the Navy to just "lose" a ship or a dozen sailors. (No submarine certified under the navy's safety plan, SUBSAFE, has ever been lost, for any reason.) It is even less possible for them to evacuate an aircraft carrier and then rely on tugs to move it to a dock for repair..
Comment by randaly on Welcome to Less Wrong! (5th thread, March 2013) · 2013-09-18T23:53:54.700Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Frequentism isn't this view's foil

Err, actually, yes it is. The frequentist interpretation of probability makes the claim that probability theory can only be used in situations involving large numbers of repeatable trials, or selection from a large population. William Feller:

There is no place in our system for speculations concerning the probability that the sun will rise tomorrow. Before speaking of it we should have to agree on an (idealized) model which would presumably run along the lines "out of infinitely many worlds one is selected at random..." Little imagination is required to construct such a model, but it appears both uninteresting and meaningless.

Or to quote from the essay coined the term frequentist:

The essential distinction between the frequentists and the [Bayesians] is, I think, that the former, in an effort to avoid anything savouring of matters of opinion, seek to define probability in terms of the objective properties of a population, real or hypothetical, whereas the latter do not.

Frequentism is only relevant to epistemological debates in a negative sense: unlike Aristotelianism and Anton-Wilsonism, which both present their own theories of epistemology, frequentism's relevance is almost only in claiming that Bayesianism is wrong. (Frequentism separately presents much more complicated and less obviously wrong claims within statistics and probability; these are not relevant, given that frequentism's sole relevance to epistemology is its claim that no theory of statistics and probability could be a suitable basis for an epistemology, since there are many events they simply don't apply to.)

(I agree that it would be useful to separate out the three versions of Bayesianism, whose claims, while related, do not need to all be true or false at the same time. However, all three are substantively opposed to one or both of the views labelled frequentist.)

Comment by randaly on What did governments get right? Gotta list them all! · 2013-09-18T22:01:12.627Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Australia had slavery. It was entirely unregulated until 1868. The practice mostly ended when Australia decided on a mass deportation of all Pacific Islanders in 1901, for racial reasons.

Comment by randaly on What did governments get right? Gotta list them all! · 2013-09-18T14:02:32.620Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Fixed; thanks.

Comment by randaly on What did governments get right? Gotta list them all! · 2013-09-18T13:51:52.695Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Successful government engineering/research projects:

  • The Manhattan Project
  • Some subsections of NASA (e.g. programmers)
  • DARPA has lots of examples of successful scientific developments- most obviously, the internet
  • Possibly government spy agencies- almost everything is non-public, but they're known to have had some notable non-classified successes (e.g. RSA)
  • The last generation of USAF aircraft were famously well-designed
  • The US Navy has a perfect record of safety on its nuclear reactors (the USSR had 14 known accidents on a smaller fleet; there were also numerous civilian meltdowns)

It seems like most of these successes are due to either throwing money at a problem until they've hired enough smart people and equipment (Manhattan Project, DARPA, NSA) or to the government imposing higher standards and more discipline on its workers than was the norm elsewhere (NASA programmers, nuclear safety.)

Relevant.

This is just a loose impression, but it seems to me that the government is somewhat more consistent at recovering from notable failures; this is arguably because it's (usually) a monopoly, and has no other choice, whereas companies will often simply abandon a product if it fails sufficiently. Examples include military reform after Vietnam and in the middle of Iraq. I have no idea if this experience leads to it becoming better at recovering from failures.

Transcript: "Choice Machines, Causality, and Cooperation"

2012-08-07T22:15:46.402Z · score: 10 (10 votes)

Rationalist Diplomacy, Game Two Post-game Discussion

2011-02-15T05:13:00.773Z · score: 5 (5 votes)

Link: Collective Intelligence

2011-01-05T08:15:23.203Z · score: 4 (5 votes)

Rationalist Diplomacy, Game 2, Game Over

2010-11-18T03:19:48.087Z · score: 7 (7 votes)

Poll: Compressing Morality

2010-10-07T22:17:31.764Z · score: 0 (3 votes)