App-Based Disease Surveillance After COVID-19 2020-04-10T18:52:52.941Z
How should I dispose of a dangerous idea? 2019-12-18T03:49:45.477Z
Unethical Human Behavior Incentivised by Existence of AGI and Mind-Uploading 2017-03-25T19:29:42.499Z


Comment by RedMan on What to optimize for in life? · 2021-06-08T05:37:19.109Z · LW · GW

Ataraxia and Aponia.

If the eudaimonic state is unavailable, or likely to become unavailable in the future, determine what obstacles exist to achieving it, and conquer that obstacle, maintain a eudaimonic state while doing so if possible.

Thanks go to:

It has been fun so far

Comment by RedMan on D&D.Sci III: Mancer Matchups · 2021-03-08T23:04:03.209Z · LW · GW

Demon is chaotic evil, cannot directly influence events, and has no direct knowledge of the situation. The demon doesn't know which side actually summoned him. Therefore, advice should literally be random.

Comment by RedMan on Seven Years of Spaced Repetition Software in the Classroom · 2021-03-07T14:53:39.918Z · LW · GW

Thank you for the detailed response! I used it for learning knot tying. It seemed to work, wanted to know if anyone else had tried it for anything like that.

Comment by RedMan on Seven Years of Spaced Repetition Software in the Classroom · 2021-03-06T14:54:01.739Z · LW · GW

Did you get IRB approval for these human studies on children?

Are you familiar with Direct Instruction, which is reminiscent of the Mennonite school?

Have you ever tried SRS for muscle memory?

Comment by RedMan on What other peptide vaccines might it be useful to make? · 2021-03-04T23:15:40.908Z · LW · GW

Thank you for educating me.

Existing approaches to toxoids like aflatoxin and ricin use specially built molecules where something immunoreactive is modified to be bonded to an antigen. A peptide vaccine that doesn't require the chemistry would be pretty cool.

The vaccine for morphine works the same way. The immune system recognizes the opiate pharmacophore and binds to it, so that opiates don't bind to their receptors and therefore, heroin rats don't get high.

Comment by RedMan on What other peptide vaccines might it be useful to make? · 2021-03-03T07:27:58.153Z · LW · GW

I've always wondered if it could be used for organic fungal toxins and other common airborne hazards

Comment by RedMan on What's your best alternate history utopia? · 2021-02-26T01:12:58.433Z · LW · GW

Aldous Huxley's introduction to the unfinished 'Hopousia' by JD Unwin was always inspiring, I can't come up with a good block quote to leave here, but if you're into utopias, you might like it. I haven't gone and read the rest of the book, so maybe as far as forwards go, it isn't so great.

Comment by RedMan on A No-Nonsense Guide to Early Retirement · 2021-02-25T17:43:19.656Z · LW · GW

I've seen the advice to buy only if you plan to be in the area for ten years and that if you do buy, to get the longest term fixed mortgage you can, with the monthly payment at what you'd be willing to pay in rent

The rationale is that since the bank can't call it in at any time (like they could in the 1930s), you can live there as long as you're making the payments. If the house has appreciated in value when you're ready to move, sell and receive the equity. If the house has declined in value, the mortgage is only collateralized by the house (is this typical?), so either convert it to a rental property (with a rent rate that brings mortgage plus maintenance to breakeven) until the market recovers, or just walk away from it and view the money spent as 'rent' paid to the bank instead of a landlord.

Comment by RedMan on A No-Nonsense Guide to Early Retirement · 2021-02-24T18:43:51.063Z · LW · GW

Got anything on optimal rates of annual spending?

If I'm reading this correctly, one should identify an optimal rate of spend, acquire as many multiples of that rate as possible, and invest everything above it.

I conceive of needs using the a 'STIMS' concept. Everyone needs shelter, transportation, income, medical, and social engagement for themselves and their dependents. I class things like servants to 'buy back' your time as 'social'.

I wonder what the numbers for all of those that hit the point of diminishing returns are. Arguably, thanks to veblen goods, social can really grow without limit, and medical at the extreme end can probably get pretty high (100 million dollar endowments for a family member's medical condition a la ron perelman)

Comment by RedMan on Apply to Effective Altruism Funds now · 2021-02-23T20:53:12.084Z · LW · GW

I've got some partial outlines for what I think are interesting sci-fi that I've wanted to pay to have ghostwritten or turned into a short film. Is this the right place for that?

Comment by RedMan on Are we prepared for Solar Storms? · 2021-02-18T21:32:29.045Z · LW · GW

When you see the sephirot in the sky....

Paper is long, but I find the description of ancient humans across the world independently doing science (observing and recording observations about the natural world) to be incredibly inspiring, especially because I am fortunate enough to live in an age when this phenomenon can be understood.

The talk from the author on youtube was worth the time for me, but maybe not for you unless you really like the paper.

Comment by RedMan on Remember that to value something infinitely is usually to give it a finite dollar value · 2021-02-16T18:20:39.231Z · LW · GW

Here's a strategy that places infinite value on life.

List all interventions that increase life available, can you buy them all? If yes, do so. If no, check all possible combinations of purchases for the combination that provides the maximum total life. If multiple options are tied for maximizing total life, pick the cheaper one.

Is this how people spend money when the life they're saving is their own?

Comment by RedMan on Humans can drive cars · 2021-02-11T15:49:34.002Z · LW · GW

According to traffic engineers, most accidents happen after the driver stops paying attention for two or more seconds. Basically, if you blink for 'one one thousand' you're probably ok, 'one one thousand two one thousand' is tempting fate.

Comment by RedMan on What is up with spirituality? · 2021-02-04T21:55:49.615Z · LW · GW

I think you're not asking 'why belief', but rather 'why spiritual high'. The brain produces dmt and the brain produces natural analgesics, we are not sure about the origin of dissociative experiences, but chemicals can induce them. Through certain behaviors, which are given cultural significance, it is possible for some people to get high on themselves.

Removing bullet point 1 from the list is probably appropriate, an organized religion distrustful of spiritual experiences can exist. Some orthodox religions that are out of vogue were explicitly distrustful of these spiritual experiences, and more likely to blame them on satan or djinn than the favor of a venerated deity.

That said if a purveyor of religion figures out a way to create a pleasureable emotional state in others, that state could be associated with the religion or offered as evidence of its' truth for the purpose of persuasion. I think this is common today in the USA.

If you want a shortcut to a spiritual experience without religious context, a look through erowid leads me to think that taking ketamine (nmda antagonist) and DMT should get you there without the need for an angry man in the sky, though you would be breaking some laws and risking real prison time depending on how you got everything together. Therefore, while spiritual experience became associated with religious practice, it probably is not at all.

Comment by RedMan on Early career choices to maximise learning? · 2021-02-04T20:57:19.388Z · LW · GW

I found it fun, in some cases it wasn't 'recharging', in others it was. All in all, 'take a vacation and learn something new that's only vaguely related to my day to day routine' was pretty great.

I still take vacations like this, and have now reached a point where I am running out of ideas for them

Comment by RedMan on Early career choices to maximise learning? · 2021-02-04T18:29:04.205Z · LW · GW

I did a few things early career, I'm mid career now, and not particularly successful, but I did learn a lot.

  1. spend the $ price of a semester of college annually on professional development in the form of learning, bias towards things without a credential and with built in tests, use all vacation time to pursue this.

  2. whenever you have a chance to interact with someone who knows something about a field you don't, get book suggestions, and put together a bibliography. Who knows when or if you'll get to it, but between scihub and libgen, you'll at least be able to access it.

I chose work that would challenge me, sometimes getting thrown in the deep end helps, sometimes you drown. Good luck! If I could go back, in time, I'd probably have picked different subjects, and gone with 'full years tuition' per year rather than semester.

Comment by RedMan on Covid 12/24: We’re F***ed, It’s Over · 2020-12-29T10:59:15.282Z · LW · GW

Not sure why the down votes on this one. One of the arguments made at the outset was that a possible vaccine would, for technical reasons specific to coronaviruses generally, cover likely mutants. I don't think the new strain changes anything, but it might politically justify continuing restrictions

Comment by RedMan on [Answer] Why wasn't science invented in China? · 2020-12-24T12:08:12.160Z · LW · GW

Was there anything similar to this in ancient China:

I wonder if the presence of arguments between separate groups who disagreed about absolute truth (in the religious sense) eventually led to arguments about the natural order, and the presentation of experiments to resolve them. Given the presence of religious figures (monks like Mendel, friars like Bacon, etc) in the early sciences, I wouldn't be surprised if there's evidence for this, though I don't have any.

'my god says the cannonball hits before the feather, mine says they hit at the same time, screw you I've got a cannonball, a feather, and a tower, let's settle this'

If the argument happens in an environment where 'you made the higher status person look silly, so now you have to be punished', this does nothing, if it happens in an environment where the crowd can theoretically embrace one or the other on the spot, and it is an actual contest, then that might lead somewhere interesting.

If the Chinese language permits the statement, 'what I said can be read as disagreeing with you o higher status one, but what I intended was the read that exactly supports your beliefs which is totally consistent with the beautiful grammar', then this sort of disputation cannot happen.

I offer the example of Puritanism and Judaism as well.

Puritans believed that salvation was not assured and constantly engaged in introspection to answer the 'am I right with god' question, which required a great deal of 'examination' in a sense that may be relevant to science--see Scott Alexander's post on Puritans for examples of prominent ones.

As I understand it, 'argument' is also core to the practice of Talmudic studies in Judaism, which I suppose could lead to experiments like the above, or at least the development of formal logic. To use von Neumann as an example, if he had not been a scientist in an era where the Jews of Hungary were integrating into wider society (see Scott Alexander's post on the contribution of this group to modernity), he would have (maybe he was? I don't know) made an amazing scholar of the Talmud--he could repeat verbatim everything he had ever read and was an absolute master of reasoning.

Could the insanity of European religious conflict have led directly to the development of modern science? I don't have an answer, or sources, but maybe the idea is interesting.

Comment by RedMan on How Hard Would It Be To Make A COVID Vaccine For Oneself? · 2020-12-22T08:38:28.469Z · LW · GW

Don't do this in the USA, modafinil is a schedule IV controlled substance. Manufacturing a controlled substance requires a license, and a bunch of other stuff. Use requires a prescription.

If busted, you'd probably be the only 'modafinil lab' the local cops have seen, and it's anyones guess whether the judge and prosecutors treat it like a meth lab or ignore you like a weed farm in a legal state.

Obviously this isn't legal advice, but I'd be unsurprised if making your own modafinil and using it would be treated like a felony akin to making your own DMT or meth and using it ('officer I was making that meth for personal use!' is hilarious, but I doubt a lawyer would let you try it in court). Since you're posting about this on a forum, it's probably safe for you to assume that you wouldn't avoid scrutiny from the yeah, while I definitely feel what you're proposing in principle (why do I need a medical mafia member and the pharma-industrial complex between me and my nootropics????), you'd probably be taking a legal risk you don't need. Idk what the law is outside the US, but I'd assume it isn't sane

Comment by RedMan on How Hard Would It Be To Make A COVID Vaccine For Oneself? · 2020-12-22T08:22:46.531Z · LW · GW

I have not made the specific radvac vaccine, but have read the prep. I've done all of those steps for other projects, can confirm, extremely simple and straightforward.

I have had an open offer to my friends to go in halfsies on materials if anyone wants it, but no takers thus far.

As far as QC goes, 'trust the vendor to mail you the correct peptides' is the easy route, screwups in that industry are rare and shocking. If you really want to check, raman or IR spectroscopy is probably the way to go--I've only ever used 'the spectrum looks like this, which matches the spectrum in the authoritative source', I've never learned anything about actually reading them. So I couldn't do that ELISA assay or something (easy to do if you have it, but idk if one is readily available for those peptides) would work too (take sample of peptide, apply elisa test, if pass, it's the peptide)

No real reason not to trust the adjuvant or DI water suppliers either.

The actual final product is a kind of crude mixture, and it's just going up your nose, so you would need to deviate from the procedure pretty severely (like, adding toxic ingredients) in order to really hurt yourself by doing it wrong. It's not like a drug where microgram differences in dose are the difference between ineffective, effective, and lethal

Comment by RedMan on What Would Advanced Social Technology Look Like? · 2020-12-17T04:55:25.298Z · LW · GW

Prosthetic neocortex that permits dunbars number to increase dramatically for the individual using the prosthesis.

Comment by RedMan on Snyder-Beattie, Sandberg, Drexler & Bonsall (2020): The Timing of Evolutionary Transitions Suggests Intelligent Life Is Rare · 2020-11-25T16:38:09.048Z · LW · GW

Of 'we are first, we are freaks, we are fucked' categories of great filter explanations, I think (consistent with this paper) we are definitely freaks, it looks like we may be first (at least in the parts of the universe that might in theory be reachable with existing physics/von neumann probes), and the jury is out on whether we are currently fucked (I'm a pessimist, I think we might be like the patient who ate a bottle of Tylenol, feeling fine, but definitely dead in a few days due to impending liver failure)

Comment by RedMan on What will the economic effects of COVID-19 be? · 2020-11-24T12:16:42.443Z · LW · GW

Antibody tests are here but are not being used to reopen (worries that people will variolate to go back to work, if that's the case wtf is wrong with your economy).

Prophylaxis and symptomatic relief appears to be 'Vitamin D to mitigate the bradykinin storm': "As per the flexible approach in the current COVID-19 pandemic authors recommend mass administration of vitamin D supplements to population at risk for COVID-19." Sure ok, one weird trick that actually works, nice.

Rapid PCR and in New Zealand, full genome sequencing for contact tracing is a thing, awesome. Rapid antigen tests are a thing too, but not helping the economy.

Idk about what works in hospitals, but ventilators and fentanyl scare me more than 'happy hypoxemia' so if I'm conscious enough to say don't take me to a hospital, that's what I'm saying. Remdesivir is not widely available enough for me to bother thinking about.

The DIY corona vaccine appears from what research has been done to be safe (no biologists who took it died) and according to animal model studies, effective. I have the wherewithal to construct it if I want, I haven't bothered, therefore I probably won't screw with the official one when it hits.

Based on present death rates and the state of the economy, quarantine wasn't worth it.

Edit: my best guess about 'long hauler' symptoms is that they're consistent with permanent damage to the lungs and long term low-moderate hypoxia, lung transplants and oxygen bottles are really the only treatments for that (if you can cure scarring and regenerate lung tissue, let the asbestosis and silicosis communities know), so long-haulers are probably screwed. Vitamin D should limit or halt this process.

This supercomputer model seems trustworthy so far:

Comment by RedMan on What risks concern you which don't seem to have been seriously considered by the community? · 2020-10-30T18:33:38.745Z · LW · GW

Instead of uploading humans to create a large mess of AIs, let's connect humans together as soon as it's safe to do so (maybe at first only the elderly and bedridden, eventually anyone who can wear a hat) then add machines and maybe even animals (sup elephants and dolphins) to create a single gigantic worldbrain. As computer simulations of brain tissue get better, the AI will go from being mostly human to mostly artificial. The death of a fully integrated human body wouldn't cause an interruption in that human's consciousness, because most of it would be distributed across the entire worldbrain.

I believe that extant technology could be used to do this and actually wrote up a technical proposal that I didn't disseminate (it wasn't great and I didn't see anyone being persuaded by it so I trashed it). The technical risk is mostly in testing and some assumptions about the way the brain works that I view as 'plausible' given the state of the art, but far from 'proven'

Comment by RedMan on Why isn’t assassination/sabotage more common? · 2020-06-10T05:08:48.763Z · LW · GW

Using the suggested framework, those would be class 2 not class 3. accident or successful class 3 assassination? As I understand it, analysis of these situations can be aided by wearing the correct headgear:

Comment by RedMan on Why isn’t assassination/sabotage more common? · 2020-06-05T03:26:11.972Z · LW · GW at least one group of people appear to have accepted at least some of your argument.

Furthermore, assassinations fall into three categories:

Where the assassin takes credit afterwards (for intimidation, bragging to supporters, etc), where a third party is blamed (to prevent reprisals being directed at the source), and where it is unclear that an assassination was performed (wow IBM got screwed hard by that plane crash).

From the perspective in the OP, it is clear that there is a detection challenge. The most useful categories (to an assassin) are the third and the second, the least useful is the first. An external observer will see only the first category, and a potential subset of the second category, but is unlikely to see many members of the third category.

Maybe they're very common, and you're just not seeing the obvious.

Comment by RedMan on The Greatest Host · 2020-05-13T03:51:19.453Z · LW · GW

And the absolute most attractive job for a psychopath is 'determiner of who is and is not neuropsychologically fit'.

If you're a shitty human there's money to be made as a child psychologist leveraging that. Abuses are common and it's not hard to issue a pitch like the following: "pay me 30k and I won't tell the court you're an unfit parent and send your kids to the foster care system".

Comment by RedMan on Prospecting for Conceptual Holes · 2020-04-26T12:22:24.798Z · LW · GW

Did you actually learn to speak piraha? Everyone I know totally refused to participate, so I dropped the idea.

Comment by RedMan on Solar system colonisation might not be driven by economics · 2020-04-22T09:29:28.371Z · LW · GW

Cmon dark side of the moon space telescope and weapons test range.

Comment by RedMan on Databases of human behaviour and preferences? · 2020-04-22T09:27:30.297Z · LW · GW gl

Comment by RedMan on What are some fun ways to spend $100,000? · 2020-04-22T08:56:06.489Z · LW · GW

A 100k potlatch is easy.

If male, do a dangerous looking activity that demonstrates your mastery of some activity with / in front of a group of your closest friends, then bring them to a wild party with plentiful dopamine agonists and easy sex with attractive women (cocaine and hookers).

If female, pay young and attractive females to do your bidding, dress yourself up to be as pretty as you can, and go somewhere where you can be seen by as many (ideally high status) people as possible.

Repeat until out of money.

Try to avoid alcohol, strip clubs, slot machines, and canned hunting, as they are cheap and shitty imitations.

Enron's inner circle did company retreats with atv riding followed by wild parties. Larry Ellison owns a fighter jet and pays a 25k noise fine whenever he takes it out at 3am.

I initially wrote a lot more, with activity recommendations, but really this covers it.

If you do want specific advice, it's available, just invite me to the party.

You know, for science.

Comment by RedMan on App-Based Disease Surveillance After COVID-19 · 2020-04-12T20:23:04.264Z · LW · GW

I would be surprised if you could not figure out if two people are screwing with moderate confidence using nothing but demographic data and location based metadata dumped into a ML algorithm. The price of false positives is a few unnecessary tests, and is therefore super low, so it doesn't even have to be that good of a system.

Tinder data could be purchased to build out the initial algorithm, and if there are still challenges, volunteers could be solicited for validation data.

Mixing in public social media (instagram) and actual communications content might help, but after validation of the location system, probably isn't necessary, but could be analyzed using robots rather than human review, which is apparently acceptable for other purposes.

Is it morally justified to use location metadata (gps), public social media (instagram), communications metadata (contact lists), and communication content to enumerate close contacts that may have spread respiratory viruses? If so, how could it be wrong to use the exact same dataset to fight other diseases with massive social burdens.

I mean sure, some people might cry about their privacy, but the data isn't theirs, courts have established that it belongs to the communication companies, all of whom are apparently on board with metadata assisted surveillance for security and now public health.

Google and Apple are building the Bluetooth tracker, the Chinese gps app with color coding for exposure risk is a thing, facebook checked instagram to see if people in Italy are social distancing. Nobody is crying about any of these things. This is just a proposal to use the same datasets for the same reason.

Anyone who argues can be labelled pro disease and pushee out of the public debate, just like anyone who complains about flu tracking software can be asked, 'do you want old people to die'?

The initial system could be instrumented with a color coding scheme, and an app. When people go to dr offices, part of the basic vitals check at the start of a visit is the doctor running a database check and suggesting testing for various conditions based on the color code. The app to check your own color code status could be downloaded by interested users. 'Show your color' would become something people just ask each other during intimate encounters.

Most jurisdictions already require that positive tests for certain pathogens (STIs are on this list) be reported to a central authority by doctors, this is a long-standing thing and nobody with an opinion that matters questions it:

Governments could implement this proposal without much public debate by just rolling out a corona app, adding features for different classes of respiratory disease, then adding features for the rest of the 'reportable pathogens' that are transmitted by different means. The model could be developed in house using already available data (reported tests and location metadata).

We can look back at this post in five years and see how things have moved. Good luck stopping it if you think this is morally repugnant as you apparently do.

Comment by RedMan on Law school taught me nothing · 2020-04-12T11:51:34.795Z · LW · GW

So three years with a good anki deck would be more valuable than sitting classes in terms of remembering the useful stuff?

Comment by RedMan on Transportation as a Constraint · 2020-04-09T11:30:21.632Z · LW · GW

This and the other 4 stories from a mathematician turned sci-fi author have aged well. Hope you enjoy them as much as I did when I read them.

Comment by RedMan on What Surprised Me About Entrepreneurship · 2020-04-06T12:31:43.644Z · LW · GW

Hy is amazing, and I want to learn more about your small data approach. I do not work in quant finance

Comment by RedMan on What will the economic effects of COVID-19 be? · 2020-03-27T16:13:29.189Z · LW · GW

We need a rapid test to identify people with immunity, so they can go back to work.

Quarantine is worth it, hospitals are overwhelmed, but it is failing, and will continue to fail. The sooner we can identify people who have gotten it and recovered, then put those people to work in high exposure occupations, the sooner we can restart the economy.

The classes of treatment needed here are as follows:

Rapid pcr test: expensive, and needed for surveillance of key workers, as well as contact tracing. We have this, but it won't scale.

Vaccine: this enables eradication, but is a minimum of 18 months away, and the effort may fail

Post exposure prophylaxis: something given before or immediately after exposure that stops the disease in its tracks (healthcare workers need this, if antimalarials do the job, yay we know those are safe and effective prophylactically)

Symptomatic relief: something given when early symptoms show, which pregents the development of catastrophic symptoms (the malaria drug will hopefully fit this)

Catastrophic care: more and better ventilators and ways of managing ards/cytokine storm. Gl with this, we wanted it before thia crisis.

Rapid antibody test: identifies patients who are exposed. Two weeks after a positive test, if the patient hasn't been admitted to a hospital, it will be safe to say that that particular patient will not require that level of care and is probably no longer contagious.

We need the rapid antibody test, and we need about a billion of them, do rolling tests, if someone has a positive test and thinks they had symptoms > 1 week prior, return them to work and tell them to avoid anyone with a negative test for a week, if they can.

Comment by RedMan on Rationalists, Post-Rationalists, And Rationalist-Adjacents · 2020-03-22T00:30:51.426Z · LW · GW

Is there a working definition for anti-rationalist?

Comment by RedMan on The questions one needs not address · 2020-03-21T23:58:58.000Z · LW · GW

I think that people have to use abstractions and beliefs taken on faith just to exist in the world. I also think that if you are not really disciplined about stating your 'I just assume blank to be true' beliefs, you will end up with a bunch of unstated assumptions worming their way into your psyche that will lead you to weird and unhealthy places (would SSC categorize this as 'Moloch'?)

Puritanical sexual beliefs (those practiced by 1600s Puritans in Massachusetts Bay) are in my opinion a good example of potentially healthy, but utterly irrational dogmas. To summarize (I have a source somewhere):

Married sex is a sacrament, unmarried sex is a grave sin. (Married being a social state that is easy for two people to enter but hard for them to leave)

Conceiving children is important and good.

Both parties much achieve orgasm during the act of intercourse to conceive a child.

Lack of sexual satisfaction is grounds for divorce by either party.

The details of 'sex' are explicitly left undefined.

One of those beliefs (orgasm and conception) is objectively false, but may be socially useful. The others are simply communally agreed upon truths.

Rationalism that leads to nihilistic hedonism and acrasia seems like a bad idea, even if life is pointless and the universe is actively hostile. I think I'm in step with this community's ethos when I assert that most people accidentally end up with a variety of false beliefs. I think I break with the rest of this community in my assertion that maintaining carefully chosen, but objectively false, beliefs is a good idea.

Life has been way better since becoming an adherent of

You should try it!

Comment by RedMan on More Dakka for Coronavirus: We need immediate human trials of many vaccine-candidates and simultaneous manufacturing of all of them · 2020-03-19T07:38:56.778Z · LW · GW

From a strictly lolbertarian perspective, good vaccines are a shitty business to be in, shitty vaccines are a great business to be in.

Real vaccine: capital intensive, may or may not succeed despite best efforts, side effects will probably be present, requires that you produce insane amounts and successfully market to every potential customer or it doesn't work. In the best case where you actually achieve maximum distribution, the pathogen is gone, and you'll never sell another one, so if you didn't profit in the first rush, you'll never see your money again.

Alex jones colloidal silver: I tell you it works, if you're not dead in a year, you're obviously another satisfied customer, here buy another bullshit vaccine from me.

Second product is better for the seller than the first, capital investment is zero, marketing cost can find efficiencies in cost per customer, repeat business is probable.

If you can come up with a business model that makes good vaccines profitable in the current environment, absent aggressive government subsidies, you should start that business and shout your model from the rooftops, because most people in biotech would (angrily) agree with my summary.

Source: have thrown this at many biotech executives and government officers involved in vaccine procuremrnt. Have gotten head nodding.

Comment by RedMan on How can we protect economies during massive public health crises? · 2020-03-19T07:25:31.181Z · LW · GW

Here's the squeeze. Jobs slow down, people are told to quarantine, people who are paycheck to paycheck fail to make rent. People renting to them have mortgages, they don't get rent, they miss their mortgage payment.

That happens enough, bank is now a landlord, bank does not want to be a landlord, house rots, tenant is booted.

Same for a business, business operates on margin, customers stop paying, margin debts not paid, bank now owns failing business. Bank does firesale, functioning business is now a pile of auctioned off crap.

Monetary policy tools (zero interest rate overnight loans, no reserve requirement) don't trickle down to the masses. I can't get a zero interest loan, neither can anyone who is paycheck to paycheck, but I sure can get extortionate rates from a payday lender or a credit card! I also can't negotiate my existing rates to zero interest.

If someone wants a new loan for a new venture, now is a great time, maybe.

If you are the Fed and want to intervene to protect banks margins, do what you're doing. The banks now own a bunch of small businesses and houses. If you want to help small business owners and homeowners, maybe buy soon to be delinquent debt from the banks at a deep discount, forgive portions of it, sell it back to the banks at a profit later. Is this quantitative easing?

If you want to protect everyone...I have this idea and need to be told why it is dumb (seriously, not an economist, pretty sure this sucks just don't see why)

Use IRS estimates of income from the previous year, create 'universal economic manipulation fund'. Every month, everyone, based on tax bracket gets either a check or a bill, the amount is unknown prior to the end of the month. In fat years, everyone pays, in bad times when the Fed needs to "drop $100s from helicopters" the check is big, biggest at the bottom. Nobody can rely on it as a source of living expenses and become 'welfare or UBI dependent', but a sudden windfall gets spent instantly by people at the bottom and lets people do things like make rent, pay utility bills, and go grocery shopping.

Again, I'm sure this is stupid, I just don't see why. If it isn't stupid, please call someone wth access to Mnuchin and tell him.

Comment by RedMan on Coronavirus Justified Practical Advice Summary · 2020-03-19T06:26:25.559Z · LW · GW

Plan: continue to avoid contact with others as practicable, if sick, treat at home exactly as I would any other flu-like illness (rest, electrolytes, etc), begin using pulse oximeter if sickness progresses to shortness of breath, if number hits 90 or less, put on n95 mask and go to hospital.

Comment by RedMan on Assorted thoughts on the coronavirus · 2020-03-19T06:16:24.139Z · LW · GW

I made minimal lifestyle changes, made no unusual purchases, and did not participate in any of the shopping rushes.

I will continue grocery shopping as needed for perishable goods (which I expect to get cheaper) during off-peak hours (mostly empty means no need for me to burn a N95 mask--I have plenty), and my job has limited human contact and is unlikely to go bankrupt or otherwise cease to exist during the pandemic.

Unfortunately, as I now realize, I am a weirdo who is 'prepared' for this sort of thing at all times, and when this craziness ends, I should probably make a concerted effort to get out more.

Anyone else in the same boat?

Comment by RedMan on What are good ways of convincing someone to rethink an impossible dream? · 2020-03-19T05:48:42.093Z · LW · GW

I have done this successfully, though I am not a success story myself, so I must accept that I can be seen as either a wise person dissuading people from stupid ideas, just as much as I can be seen as an idiot with no vision who would have told the beatles that the guitar is on the way out. This process takes a decent amount of emotional energy and probably isn't worth it in most cases.

Bring forward more enthusiasm for their ridiculous idea than they have, suggest concrete actions that they can take which will provide real feedback. They will either shrink from doing them (and be annoyed that you smile and ask them 'so have you ______ yet' without fail every single time they see you), or actually go and try it, hopefully failing early.

Here are some examples:

Guy has shitty movie idea he keeps pitching to everyone he knows (none of whom know anything about making movies), uses this to dominate conversations. I bought him a copy of 'Save the Cat' (didn't work), asked him what he was doing on a specific weekend ('nothing') and enthusiastically told him 'the (named) pitchfest is that weekend in burbank, plane tickets are $200 and the hotel is cheap AF, the whole trip costs less than I've seen you spend on stupid shit, you can really make this movie dream happen!!!!!!'

'thats an awesome app idea, let's get it working in an excel spreadsheet and see how it goes'

'thats an awesome product idea, grab a domain, put up a blank page, and spend $500(0 for the richer people) on google display network ads to drive traffic to an ad for the idea, see what your click numbers look like'

'oh yeah people would definitely pay for this art, throw up an ad on fiverr and see if you get any bites'

In every case, they either do it (rare, some people would rather have the identity as 'someone with ideas too good for the world' than having to actually risk failing at something and maybe losing that identity), or don't do it.

Three possible outcomes:

They do it, fail, and stop talking about it.

They don't do it, and stop talking about it because every time you bring it up, they get annoyed that they're being called out for being more talk than walk.

They do it and succeed, in which case, you were the person who believed in them and now a valued friend (also, you'll probably want them to keep talking about it, because the world has shown you that your model wasn't quite right)

I personally have some actually creative ideas (metric: can't find the idea expressed anywhere on the internet and experts in the relevant field say they have not seen it before), more 'almost' creative ideas (has been stated by a kook somewhere in the fringes), and a lot of misguided ideas (experts in the field have seen similar ideas many times from people new to the field) most are absolutely awful and none have made me rich. The ones directly related to my area of expertise are generally better than the ones which are not. The above advice for dealing with others mirrors the way I deal with my own ideas.

The ones I don't have the resources to test are available to anyone who cares to ask and possesses said resources btw.

I'm an undiscovered geniu...oh no.

Comment by RedMan on March Coronavirus Open Thread · 2020-03-11T04:04:20.761Z · LW · GW

In the usa, much of the workforce is paycheck to paycheck and does not have paid leave or short term disability, and health issues are a common cause for bankruptcy. So the following is applicable to a lot of people who probably are not in this (rationalist/lesswrong) community:

If you don't work, you don't get paid, so you don't make rent. If you get quarantined by the state after a positive test, you don't go to work, you don't get paid, and you don't make rent. If you don't make rent, you probably will not have a place to live. If you end up in the hospital, you will probably go bankrupt, and may not have a place to live when you get out. Therefore with the incentives in front of you, take the following advice: 'do as you would normally, go to work no matter how you feel, do not under any circumstances get a coronavirus test, as that might provoke some authority to put you in a position where you cannot get paid.' This is particularly relevant if you live in a state that decides to be aggressive and punitive about quarantining.

Walmart appears to have realized this and is taking measures to adjust the incentives, but it's probably too little too late.

I also expect red states to adopt punitive legislation and pundits representing those communities to not understand why it makes things worse (I've seen right wing blog comments that go something like this: hurr in the days of bubonic plague communities in Italy bricked up houses around infected families, we r not hard enough nowdays durrr).

For the rest of us, recognize that when you interact with a gig worker or any other member of the public with those incentives, they have a high risk of exposure from the community, are unlikely to use PPE (not part of the uniform, not affordable, etc), and regardless of whether they are showing symptoms, will probably work until either prohibited from doing so, or physically unable to due to symptoms.

I'd prefer to live in a community that took effective large scale action (lock down access to vulnerable groups, mass test the healthy, and create strong incentives to self-isolate), but I don't so whatever.

Comment by RedMan on Cortés, Pizarro, and Afonso as Precedents for Takeover · 2020-03-11T02:37:17.730Z · LW · GW

There is a sci-fi sourcebook called 'GURPS Ogre' about an AI dominated future that follows a similar line of reasoning, I think OP might enjoy it, and pdfs can be found online.

I also think that the story of Napoleon's conquest and the reasons for its' success might also be informative to your thesis, as disease is not (at least as far as I know) nearly as much of a factor.

Comment by RedMan on New article from Oren Etzioni · 2020-02-26T21:11:35.857Z · LW · GW

We passed 'limited variations of the turing test' some time ago:

'Convince a human that he is interacting with a human' is a low bar. Furthermore, the fully self driving cars are available, just not at an acceptable level of reliability. If we set the bar for reliability as 'no worse than a texting teenager with a basic license', it's probably easily attainable today.

How about we apply performance metrics that would be impossible for a human to achieve to robot drivers and doctors, then move the goalposts every time it looks like they might be hit. This way, we can protect the status quo from disruption while pretending we're "just being cautious about existential risk"

Comment by RedMan on Absent coordination, future technology will cause human extinction · 2020-02-21T01:35:56.118Z · LW · GW

Separate paragraphs, intended to be separate issues.

A 7 on the INES every fifty years means an accident that requires an exclusion zone and long term containment. The chernobyl sarcophagus needs to be maintained, and the accident is not 'over'. Humans have committed to managing a problem (radioactive waste) that will be around longer than the human race has existed to the present point (100,000 years into the future, current radwaste will be a hazard). We are doing fine so far, whether that holds remains to be seen.

I read somewhere that there is enough 'fossil carbon' that if all of it is burned, it will be enough to cause a runaway, venus like greenhouse effect that destroys the biosphere and renders the earth uninhabitable. The timeframe for this I saw is '500ish years'. Stephen Hawking said something similar and was panned for it:

There's an anthropic bias here. 'We are not dead, so therefore we have not already drawn a black ball'. If we had, we would not be around to discuss it, so therefore, we are unlikely to ever be in a position where we look backwards and can say unambiguously 'yep, that was definitely a black ball, we are irreparably screwed'.

Comment by RedMan on Absent coordination, future technology will cause human extinction · 2020-02-04T09:08:23.352Z · LW · GW

If the current statistics hold of 1 chernobyl/fukushima/mayak level disaster every fifty years, we already drew a black ball.

If business as usual with carbon dioxide pollution continues unabated until earth is uninhabitable in 500 years, we also already drew a black ball.

If the time it takes for a black ball to kill us is more than a few generations it's really hard to plan around fixing it.

Comment by RedMan on What Money Cannot Buy · 2020-02-03T18:39:29.273Z · LW · GW

Anonymity helps.

By just being known as rich or occupying a prominent position, you will always attract people who want a piece, and will try to figure out what it is that you need in a friend or subcontractor and attempt to provide it, often extremely successfully. I mean, as Eliezer has said (paraphrasing, hopefully faithfully), the kinds of people you find at 'high status' conventions are just a better class of people than the hoi polloi.

With a degree of anonymity, it becomes somewhat straightforward to search for things like the farmer's cowpox cure, because professional purveyors of things to the wealthy do not waste their time crafting pitches for nobodies.

But then, you also have the separate problem as a nobody that 'somebodies' do not return your calls.

Comment by RedMan on Create a Full Alternative Stack · 2020-02-01T00:57:53.186Z · LW · GW

I read this and thought of organized religion. Unable to figure out why though.