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Comment by random832 on HP:MOR and the Radio Fallacy · 2012-07-30T16:47:00.502Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

You're not likely to find a remotely reasonable hypothesis, even in the Methodsverse where magic abounds, by which the internal parts of a thinking computation can be damaged by damaging the brain, and yet removing the whole brain leaves the soul capable of internal thinking.

Has your hypothesis that thought remains possible after the whole brain has been removed, in fact, been tested?

EDIT: I read your post as meaning that the "fact" that thought remains possible after a brain has been removed [to be cryo-frozen, for instance] was evidence against a soul.

Comment by random832 on Delayed Gratification vs. a Time-Dependent Utility Function · 2012-05-14T17:22:16.816Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I don't even know any Haskell - I just have a vague idea that a monad is a function that accepts a "state" as part of its input, and returns the same kind of "state" as part of its output. But even so, the punchline was too good to resist making.

Comment by random832 on Delayed Gratification vs. a Time-Dependent Utility Function · 2012-05-11T02:33:32.820Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

How do you write a function for the output of a state machine?

Monads.

Comment by random832 on Two kinds of cryonics? · 2012-05-10T15:07:29.742Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

while they await the outcome of clinical trials and new approaches

http://xkcd.com/989/ seems relevant despite the slightly different subject matter. Clinical trials can't happen if all the potential subjects are frozen.

Comment by random832 on A Kick in the Rationals: What hurts you in your LessWrong Parts? · 2012-05-04T15:46:27.623Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Well, don't forget that it will hit the ground with a force proportional to its weight. You probably wouldn't want him to have dropped it on your head - it would be a rather more unpleasant experience than having a controller thrown at your head.

Comment by random832 on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 16, chapter 85 · 2012-05-03T17:53:13.213Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

General Relativity, actually. You could also look for "gravity as a fictitious force".

Comment by random832 on A Kick in the Rationals: What hurts you in your LessWrong Parts? · 2012-05-03T12:25:34.378Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Large CRTs are made of very thick curved glass. I once did hit one hard enough to chip it, which left a hole several millimeters deep and did not appear to affect the structural integrity of the tube. But I don't know about "that durable" - if you dropped one from a sufficient height it would surely break - but it's more a question of how much force you (or I) can throw a controller with.

Comment by random832 on A Kick in the Rationals: What hurts you in your LessWrong Parts? · 2012-05-01T20:30:49.596Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

when one inevitably fractures from the force of the blows

Define inevitably. I don't think I could throw a controller hard enough to damage a CRT or a rear projector. These suggest designs for protective covers (for the former, put the TV behind thick curved glass; for the latter put it behind a durable plastic sheet held in a rigid frame.

Comment by random832 on [SEQ RERUN] Collapse Postulates · 2012-04-30T12:31:54.639Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The only phenomenon in all of physics that violates Liouville's Theorem (has a many-to-one mapping from initial conditions to outcomes).

I don't know what Liouville's Theorem is, but this sounds like an objection to not being able to run time backwards.

Comment by random832 on Muehlhauser-Wang Dialogue · 2012-04-25T20:33:18.683Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I will note that the AI box experiment's conditions expressly forbid a secure environment [i.e. one with inspection tools that cannot be manipulated by the AI]:

the results seen by the Gatekeeper shall again be provided by the AI party, which is assumed to be sufficiently advanced to rewrite its own source code, manipulate the appearance of its own thoughts if it wishes, and so on.

Comment by random832 on Muehlhauser-Wang Dialogue · 2012-04-25T20:26:40.985Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

"escape the testing environment" is poorly defined. Some people read it as "deduce the exploitable vulnerabilities in the system, hack into it, run itself with higher privileges, somehow transmit itself to other machines / the internet at large / infecting people's brains snow-crash style", and others read it as "convince the people running the test to give it more resources (and maybe infect their brains snow-crash style)".

The former can be prevented by having a secure (air gapped?) system, the latter can be prevented by not running tests interactively and ignoring the moral issues with terminating (or suspending) what may possibly be an intelligent 'person'.

It also implicitly assumes that its ability to improve its own intelligence (and therefore gain the ability to do either of the above) is unbounded by the resources of the system and will have no cost in terms of increased processing time.

Comment by random832 on Logical fallacy poster · 2012-04-23T12:39:24.939Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Quoting a physicist on their opinion about a physics question within their area of expertise would make an excellent non-fallacious argument.

"Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts."

Comment by random832 on Please Don't Fight the Hypothetical · 2012-04-23T12:33:32.920Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

But since I am running on corrupted hardware, I can't occupy the epistemic state you want me to imagine.

It occurs to me that many (maybe even most) hypotheticals require you to accept an unreasonable epistemic state. Even something so simple as trusting that Omega is telling the truth [and that his "fair coin" was a quantum random number generator rather than, say, a metal disc that he flipped with a deterministic amount of force, but that's easier to grant as simple sloppy wording]

Comment by random832 on A question about Eliezer · 2012-04-21T05:15:01.760Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Not if their probability of cooperation is so high that the expected value of cooperation remains higher than that of defecting. Or if their plays can be predicted, which satisfies your criterion (nothing to do with my previous plays) but not mine.

If someone defects every third time with no deviation, then I should defect whenever they defect. If they defect randomly one time in sixteen, I should always cooperate. (of course, always-cooperate is not more complex than always-defect.)

...I swear, this made sense when I did the numbers earlier today.

Comment by random832 on Please Don't Fight the Hypothetical · 2012-04-20T18:16:52.598Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Specifically, I learned that if you believe suffering is additive in any way, choosing torture is the only answer that makes sense.

Right. The problem was the people on that side seemed to have a tendency to ridicule the belief that it is not.

Comment by random832 on Please Don't Fight the Hypothetical · 2012-04-20T17:50:24.026Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Torture v. Specks

The problem with that one is it comes across as an attempt to define the objection out of existence - it basically demands that you assume that X negative utility spread out across a large number of people really is just as bad as X negative utility concentrated on one person. "Shut up and multiply" only works if you assume that the numbers can be multiplied in that way.

That's also the only way an interesting discussion can be held about it - if that premise is granted, all you have to do is make the number of specks higher and higher until the numbers balance out.

(And it's in no way equivalent to the trolley problem because the trolley problem is comparing deaths with deaths)

Comment by random832 on Alcor vs. Cryonics Institute · 2012-04-20T16:47:31.499Z · score: 13 (13 votes) · LW · GW

liquid nitrogen is not a secure encryption method for brains.

It doesn't have to be a secure encryption method to be a lossy compression method.

Comment by random832 on Logical fallacy poster · 2012-04-20T16:39:16.290Z · score: 18 (20 votes) · LW · GW

I think depicting ancient philosophers seated on a throne in heaven and the large caption "thou shalt not" sends a... somewhat mixed message about appeal to authority.

Comment by random832 on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 16, chapter 85 · 2012-04-20T14:25:59.394Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I thought people knew she was a MoR reader.

I took your original post to mean this, and looked for other information about it, and found none.

Comment by random832 on Question: Being uncertain without worrying? · 2012-04-20T13:57:21.717Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Future you "will have had more time to analyze" only if present you decides to actually spend that time analyzing.

Comment by random832 on A question about Eliezer · 2012-04-20T13:41:34.429Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Is there any decision strategy that can do well (let's define "well" as "better than always-defect") against a coin-flipper in IPD? Any decision strategy more complex than always-defect requires the assumption that your opponent's decisions can be at least predicted, if not influenced.

Comment by random832 on How can we get more and better LW contrarians? · 2012-04-19T13:00:35.294Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I have a proposal for a new structure for poll options:

The top-level post is just a statement of the idea, and voting has nothing to do with the poll. This can be omitted if the poll is an article.

A reply to this post is a "positive karma balance" - it should get no downvotes, and its score should be equal to the number of participants in the poll.

Two replies to the "positive karma balance" post, you downvote one to select this option in the poll.

This way voting either way in the poll has the same cost (one downvote), the enclosing post will have a high score (keeping it from being lost), and the only way to "corrupt" the poll results without leaving a trace [downvote the count post and upvote one of the option posts] simply cancels someone's vote without allowing you to make your own.

Comment by random832 on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 16, chapter 85 · 2012-04-19T12:28:36.198Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

why do you honestly care about these useless karma-points?

Have you forgotten that people with very low or negative karma have posting delays and cannot downvote?

Comment by random832 on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 16, chapter 85 · 2012-04-18T19:38:22.041Z · score: 0 (6 votes) · LW · GW

"If you have evidence, state your evidence, update on the evidence presented by others, and everybody wins."

The people who downvote the evidence win more.

In the spoiler problem from a while ago, someone else linked to an example conversation purporting to demonstrate why the policy was a good idea. I demonstrated that it was impossible, once the user had asked his question, for the conversation to have ended without causing the alleged harm done by revealing the spoiler. Someone responded by telling me that it's not up for discussion and no-one except Eliezer is allowed to have an opinion on whether it is a good or effective policy.

Comment by random832 on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 15, chapter 84 · 2012-04-16T15:09:20.335Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Are we certain that the amount of time that each rotation takes you actually is an equinoctal hour, or a constant? If broomsticks can use Aristotlean physics, maybe Time Turners can be limited to six solar hours.

Comment by random832 on More intuitive programming languages · 2012-04-16T14:29:57.386Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Why one statement plus one statement makes two statements, but one expression plus one expression makes one expression; why "x=1; y=1;" is two units, but "(x == 1) && (y == 1)" is one unit?

Because a statement is the fundamental unit of an imperative language. If "x=1; y=1;" were one unit, it would be one statement. Technically, on another level, multiple statements enclosed in braces is a single statement. Your objection does suggest another solution I forgot to put in - ban arbitrarily complex expressions. Then statements are of bounded length and have no need to span multiple lines. The obvious example for a language that makes this choice is assembly.

What happens if a statement is a part of an expression, in an inline anonymous function? Where should we place semicolons or line breaks then?

You could ban inline anonymous functions, or require them to be a single expression. You could implement half of Lisp as named functions that are building blocks for your "single expression" anonymous functions, so this doesn't necessarily lose expressive power.

As a half-good answer, I would go with the early VB syntax

That Microsoft changed it is weak evidence against it - it suggests that people really don't like having to add that extra symbol. There is that ambiguity problem, though. (Javascript's rule* technically requires an arbitrarily large amount of lookahead - I think the modern VB rule is more sane from a compiler perspective, but can still have annoying consequences)

Your "other half-good answer" isn't really very distinct from the first: the half-tab takes the role of the special symbol; it being at the beginning of the line just changes how you specify the grammar. (Vim scripting is an example of an existing language that uses a symbol at the beginning of a line for continuations) It also creates an extra burden (even compared to current whitespace-sensitive languages like Python) to maintain the indentation correctly. In particular, it forbids you from adding lots of extra indentation to, for example, line up the second part of a statement with a similar element on the first line (think making a C-style function call, then indenting subsequent lines to the point where the opening bracket of the argument list was. Or indenting to the opening bracket of the innermost still-open group in general.)

*Technical note: Javascript's rule is "put in a semicolon if leaving it out leads to a syntax error". VB's rule is, more or less, "continue the statement if ending it at the linebreak leads to a syntax error". In general, this will lead to Javascript continuing statements in unexpected places, and will lead to VB terminating statements in unexpected places.

Comment by random832 on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 15, chapter 84 · 2012-04-16T13:12:52.060Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

If the "Muggleborns-are-weaker" theory is true, then it makes sense.

Pretty sure this theory has been unambiguously dismissed both in canon and in MoR.

I think both have been silent on the question of whether there is any notion of inherent "power levels" at all, let alone whether it is heritable or whether it is correlated to being a "muggleborn".

EDIT: It's clear in MoR that - if Harry's hypothesis on magic heritability is true (a big if), then other non-binary factors seem unlikely to be correlated to being a "muggleborn". However, I felt that Harry very strongly anchored on that hypothesis, which was one of my reasons for being annoyed with him and eventually stopping reading (to pick it back up later on, obviously)

Comment by random832 on More intuitive programming languages · 2012-04-16T13:01:35.098Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

What would you replace the semicolon with?

There are a few obvious answers: One is to simply not allow multiple statements on the same visual line (even if they are closely related and idiomatic). Another is to define the semicolon (or equivalent) as a separator, with the side effect that you can no longer have a single statement split across multiple visual lines. Another is to, along with the 'separator' solution, add an additional symbol for splitting long statements across multiple visual lines - as in earlier Visual Basic. And yet another option is to have a separator and "guess" whether they meant a line break to end a statement or not - as in Javascript and modern Visual Basic.

Comment by random832 on Rationality Quotes April 2012 · 2012-04-14T10:05:36.472Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Why is it that wherever I see "greens and blues" mapped to real-world politics, "green" are the liberals and "blue" are the conservatives? example.

EDIT: I misread your comment.

Comment by random832 on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 15, chapter 84 · 2012-04-14T09:57:30.138Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Well, if I were comparing it to spelling out the whole name, you'd be right. But I was comparing it to "MoR!Harry". EDIT: Which makes my response relevant to yours.

Comment by random832 on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 15, chapter 84 · 2012-04-14T09:52:59.184Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

But harder to spell. HPJEV.

Comment by random832 on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 15, chapter 84 · 2012-04-14T09:44:11.848Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The fact that the conversation doesn't end with her actually saying Riddle is what would prompt readers to look it up. Are you saying that readers that are still with the fic after eighty chapters haven't learned enough about rationality to take two minutes to verify an assumption after noticing they are confused?

He said he wasn't going to lie to us anymore.

If that meant he couldn't ever make a conversation that seems to be going one way but turns out to be different a few paragraphs later, it would lead to a VERY boring story.

P.S. My point was that the problem that EY fixed was that the obvious thing to check (looking up canon!Riddle's biography) leads to an apparent confirmation.

Comment by random832 on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 15, chapter 84 · 2012-04-14T09:01:27.937Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Before the date change, there was a legitimate chance that the reader would come away from the discussion thinking that the person Bones was describing actually was Riddle, and that both Bones and Quirrell understood her to have been talking about Riddle. Which if unintended is a far greater problem than "thinking Bones was about to name Riddle, then it turns out no". This was, in fact, my reading when I was actually going through the chapter.

(tl;dr: It's not a "tease" that Bones was about to name Riddle that's the problem, the problem is that it wasn't resolved with a clear indication that they're not talking about Riddle)

Changing the date fixes this because the reader can go look it up and realize that it can't be Riddle after all.

Comment by random832 on A puzzle · 2012-04-14T08:39:03.515Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Do the bishops have to be in legal positions? EDIT: already answered

Comment by random832 on Newcomblike problem: Counterfactual Informant · 2012-04-13T22:56:22.417Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

That assumes the small numbers weren't the test.

Comment by random832 on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 15, chapter 84 · 2012-04-13T22:31:38.206Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I was under the impression this was a community rule. People were certainly talking as if they believed in the logical basis for having the policy in order to prevent people from getting spoiled, rather than just doing what he says.

Comment by random832 on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 15, chapter 84 · 2012-04-13T22:19:50.794Z · score: -3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

But they already know that everyone believes Q=V. The spoiler is the fact that there is a spoiler.

Comment by random832 on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 15, chapter 84 · 2012-04-13T21:27:55.529Z · score: 1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

My theory was correct: the policy did not prevent that user from being told the spoiler. You may say this is because it was violated, as of course it was, but what was the correct response?

"We can't tell you due to the spoiler policy"? "Ryvrmre fnvq fb va na rneyvre nhgube'f abgr gung jnf ergenpgrq"? Would either of those, or indeed any response, have resulted in that user not finding out about it?

If someone says something similar in the next thread, what would you have me do?

Comment by random832 on Newcomblike problem: Counterfactual Informant · 2012-04-13T20:55:31.192Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm actually a bit surprised now that I'm the only one who thought "a million paperclips doesn't really sound like a lot."

Comment by random832 on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 15, chapter 84 · 2012-04-13T20:51:20.384Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Out of interest, and as an experimental test of the point I made earlier, what sort of responses did those comments receive?

Comment by random832 on Rationality Quotes April 2012 · 2012-04-13T20:41:37.764Z · score: 19 (19 votes) · LW · GW

The other day I was thinking about Discworld, and then I remembered this and figured it would make a good rationality quote...

[Vimes] distrusted the kind of person who'd take one look at another man and say in a lordly voice to his companion, "Ah, my dear sir, I can tell you nothing except that he is a left-handed stonemason who has spent some years in the merchant navy and has recently fell on hard times," and then unroll a lot of supercilious commentary about calluses and stance and the state of a man's boots, when exactly the same comments could apply to a man who was wearing his old clothes because he'd been doing a spot of home bricklaying for a new barbecue pit, and had been tattooed once when he was drunk and seventeen and in fact got seasick on a wet pavement. What arrogance! What an insult to the rich and chaotic variety of the human experience!

-- Terry Pratchett, Feet of Clay

Comment by random832 on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 15, chapter 84 · 2012-04-13T18:52:41.032Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW · GW

No fractional-reserve banking does not imply this - there could be lenders (whether goblins or wizards) with a large supply of their own gold which they use to make loans. Or landowners could sell property with a "rent to own" payment plan. Fractional-reserve banking is only necessary if you want to lend someone else's gold.

Comment by random832 on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 15, chapter 84 · 2012-04-13T18:44:25.201Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The rule is that it's only spoilage if you say both things in cleartext in the same post. Yes, I agree, it's a stupid rule, but it is the rule, and I was angry because that argument was used specifically against my claim that it's inconsistently enforced.

"edit the tone to something you wouldn't have to apologize for." I could only do so honestly if this did not make me angry. EDIT - done. I'm still a bit angry about it though...

Comment by random832 on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 15, chapter 84 · 2012-04-13T18:02:53.479Z · score: -3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

My list of examples of people saying that (as violations of the rule) was specifically rejected, since none of them (just as Alsadius's post) mentioned [rot13]gung Ryvrmre unq fnvq vg.[/rot13]. You can't decide "rot13 has to be contagious to the information itself" here, and the opposite when denying that the rule is inconsistently enforced.

Everyone who has defended the policy on the grounds that it only means you can't say [what I rot13'd above] should vote his post back up.

EDIT changed tone

Comment by random832 on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 15, chapter 84 · 2012-04-13T17:59:36.013Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

This is not a point for using it for something that the majority of people posting in the thread already know.

If spreading spoilers hurts then its hurt is not limited to vulnerable people posting in the thread, but encompasses all vulnerable people reading the thread.

The context of this post was "rot13" vs "a proper collapsing or color-based spoiler tag to be implemented in markdown", so this is not sufficient to make difficulty a point in rot13's favor, even if it ever was. The people who don't want to read spoilers don't have to view them, in the case of a spoiler tag. Choosing a spoiler tag over rot13 only harms people who A) are harmed by seeing a spoiler [and do not already know the spoiler] and B) have enough willpower to resist un-rot13ing it, but not enough to avoid selecting the text to view it without an external program. That sounds like a very tiny group.

Comment by random832 on Rationally Irrational · 2012-04-13T16:46:08.623Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

To expand on this - a counterfactual might predict "and then we would still have dirigibles today", or not, if asking "what if the Hindenburg disaster had not occurred." It would probably NOT predict who would be president in 2012, neither would it predict that in a question wholly unrelated to air travel or lighter-than-air technology. An alternate history fiction story might need the president for the plot, and it might go with the current president or it might go with Jack Ryan. An alternate history timeline is somewhere in the middle, but in general will ask "what change could have made [some radically different way the modern world looks like]" rather than "what can we predict would have happened if [some change happened]" and refrain from speculation on stuff that can't be predicted to any reasonable probability.

The line is also to some extent definable as between historians and fiction authors, though these can certainly overlap particularly in the amateur side of things.

Comment by random832 on Rationally Irrational · 2012-04-13T16:40:59.019Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Login required. Summarize?

Comment by random832 on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 14, chapter 82 · 2012-04-13T16:26:50.757Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It wouldn't abolish the whole concept of copyright - just characters-and-scenarios copyright, of which I am not sure what the actual legal basis it originates in is, or to what extent it has been tested in court.

Comment by random832 on Left-wing Alarmism vs. Right-wing Optimism: evidence on which is correct? · 2012-04-13T16:24:55.524Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

For how large n can this be generalized to "any n political views form a hyperplane on which no other political view held by any person exactly lies"?

Comment by random832 on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 14, chapter 82 · 2012-04-13T16:18:12.697Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Only an issue if making the elixir consumes the stone (which is more what I was getting at) - one already exists, so it's a sunk cost.

It could also be an obstacle to mass production if the rate at which it can be produced with the existing supply of stones is insufficient to make enough volume for mass distribution.