One Medical? Expansion of MIRI? 2014-03-18T14:38:23.618Z
Computer-mediated communication and the sense of social connectedness 2011-03-18T17:13:32.203Z
LW was started to help altruists 2011-02-19T21:13:00.020Z


Comment by rhollerith_dot_com on How does your data backup solution setup work? · 2021-09-07T23:42:49.658Z · LW · GW

The computer security expert Thomas Ptacek recommends against online backups.

I think main threat from uploading your backups in his opinion is government-level actors.

Apparently it is difficult to encrypt data such that the big governments cannot eventually break the encryption, and backup services are attractive targets for the big governments.

Comment by rhollerith_dot_com on [deleted post] 2021-08-10T15:38:02.037Z

This is spam

Comment by rhollerith_dot_com on ($1000 bounty) How effective are marginal vaccine doses against the covid delta variant? · 2021-07-22T07:08:50.410Z · LW · GW

My guess is that you have generated your own hypothesis (namely, more than two doses will work better than 2 will). I almost always leave medical hypothesis generation to the medical experts with the result that my job is to choose among the hypotheses and to tailor my choice to my situation. Of course I consider hypotheses by contrarians and alternative health-care providers, which number in the high dozens or hundreds of hypotheses for Covid.

(Experts have proposed a 3rd shot, but that would be a shot of a new vaccine, not one currently being given to people.)

Comment by rhollerith_dot_com on A Reason to Expect Republics to Perform Better than Absolute Monarchies in the Long-Term · 2021-06-18T19:48:05.291Z · LW · GW

International relations is not the main criterion on which elected officials' approval ratings depend.

Comment by rhollerith_dot_com on Is there a community aligned with the idea of creating species of AGI systems for them to become our successors? · 2020-12-21T09:54:22.982Z · LW · GW

The reason it makes sense to ask whether a human, e.g., Sally, is free is because a human already has terminal values. "Sally is free", means Sally is able to pursue her terminal values, one of which might be eating good food with friends, free from interference from other people or from society.

You say you want to help create a free AGI? My reply is, What values will the AGI end up with? More precisely, what utility function will it end up with? (If an agent has 2 terminal values, it needs some way of arbitrating between them. Call the 2 values combined with the arbitration method the agent's utility function.) Answer: whichever one the group of people who created the AGI gives it. Now it is certainly possible for the group to believe it is giving it one function whereas in reality it is giving it a different one. It also possible for a group trying to create an AGI to believe that it is leaving the decision of the AGI's utility function up to the AGI, but I severely doubt that such a confused group of people would actually succeed in creating an AGI. If they do succeed, then the AGI will have started its existence with a utility function, and that function will have been given to it by its creator (the group).

So, the big unanswered question is what kind of utility function you think this proposed free AGI should have.

There is no such thing as an intelligent agent or a mind without a goal, a system of values or a utility function. It is a logical contradiction. Eliezer roughly 12 years ago was in the habit of referring to an AGI as a Really Powerful Optimizing Process (RPOP) and wrote of the RPOP's steering reality into a tiny volume of the space of possible outcomes. (Please excuse my clumsy paraphrase of Eliezer's writing.)

One could probably create a mind or an AGI that does nothing but accumulate the power to achieve goals without ever actually choosing a specific goal to achieve other than to continue to accumulate power. (Such a mind would be strongly motivated to destroy or control any other minds in its enviroment.) I doubt that is what you have in mind.

Comment by rhollerith_dot_com on Unexplored modes of language · 2020-12-11T19:53:57.285Z · LW · GW

The cockpits of airliners and the control rooms for nuclear power plants are designed such that making a change to the system is also an act of communication when there is more than one pilot or operator present (which is the usual state of affairs). In particular, one of the reasons a cockpit has hundreds of physical switches and levers instead of, e.g., one big touchscreen in front of each pilot is to make it easier for a pilot to observe accurately the changes made by the other pilot.

Every pilot's needing to memorize what every switch and lever does raises training costs, but the airlines have been willing to pay that additional cost because the experience of the industry strongly suggests that cockpit designs with hundreds of physical switches and levers have lower rates of fatal misunderstandings between the pilots.

Comment by rhollerith_dot_com on Nuclear war is unlikely to cause human extinction · 2020-11-13T01:27:37.273Z · LW · GW

The estimates I trust the most said about 50% of Americans and 55% of Soviets would have died in the first 30 days if the Americans and Soviets hit each other with everything they've got. (The Soviets were more concentrated in cities; automobiles with which to flee the cities quickly with supplies were much scarcer in the USSR.)

Note that since 1983 the two sides have gotten rid of most of their nuclear weapons.

"30 days": most people who are going to die from radiation sickness will die within 30 days of the exposure.

How many would have starved in subsequent months and years because of lack of food is harder to estimate.

Comment by rhollerith_dot_com on Why You Should Care About Goal-Directedness · 2020-11-10T00:27:13.356Z · LW · GW

One issue would be that it appears that the same argument can be used to argue for the troublesomeness of cyclic graphs.

Consider a graph that is mostly a tree, but one directed edge points to the root. What is the difference that makes your argument inapplicable to the graph, but applicable to a model of reality that contains a model of the model?

Comment by rhollerith_dot_com on Two reasons to expect a peaceful change of power in the US · 2020-11-08T20:42:48.391Z · LW · GW

>We have never heard of a coup in a rich old democracy

There was a successful coup in France in 1958:

At that point France had been a democracy or democratic republic for 88 years. (I'm not counting the First Republic because it was chaotic and included the Reign of Terror. I'm not counting the Second Republic because it lasted only 4 years and was sandwiched between longer-lasting intervals of dictatorship and monarchy. I am counting the Nazi occupation because I consider its cause to have been external to France and thus not a sign that French democracy was deficient. Also, it was sandwiched between much longer intervals of democracy.)

Then again 88 years is not 231 years, and there were much stronger signs (namely, the "recurrent cabinet crises" described by the Wikipedia article) in the years leading up to 1958 that the French system of government was unsatisfactory than there have been so far IMHO of the unsatisfactoriness of the US system (and one of the effects of the coup -- in addition to a new leader -- was a new French constitution).

(Also, IIUC the coup was basically bloodless.)

Comment by rhollerith_dot_com on Nuclear war is unlikely to cause human extinction · 2020-11-07T20:45:37.569Z · LW · GW

Humankind has long known how to produce very large nukes: the largest bomb ever tested (Tsar Bomba, 50 megatons) was tested in 1961. Why then is the maximum yield of every nuke currently in the US inventory under about .5 megatons? Because explosions bigger than that do not produce more destruction on the ground: after about .5 megatons, as the size (energy) of the explosion increases, it just lifts more and more of the Earth's atmosphere into space (but not enough to cause any danger to life on Earth).

Comment by rhollerith_dot_com on Sub-Sums and Sub-Tensors · 2020-11-06T02:28:25.543Z · LW · GW

How many more posts in this sequence till you define the extrapolated volition of the humans? :)

Comment by rhollerith_dot_com on Where do (did?) stable, cooperative institutions come from? · 2020-11-04T02:10:59.216Z · LW · GW

I had been hoping that we could mostly avoid the need to figure out where stable, cooperative institutions composed of humans come from by developing aligned smarter-than-human AGI.

Comment by rhollerith_dot_com on What are examples of simpler universes that have been described in order to explain a concept from our more complex universe? · 2020-09-20T18:04:28.490Z · LW · GW

Euclidean geometry (which is 2500 years old), Newtonian physics and the special theory of relativity immediately come to mind.

Comment by rhollerith_dot_com on Maximal Ventilation · 2020-07-11T23:03:37.722Z · LW · GW

Certainly a breeze is better than no breeze, but, "a gentle 1mph breeze clears an 90-ft diameter circle in a minute," is probably not be even approximately true if the breeze is turbulent, which most breezes are.

Anyone reading this has probably experienced a non-turbulent (i.e., "laminar") breeze. One sign that a breeze is laminar is that the breeze makes you cold a lot faster than you would guess based on (your subjective impression of) the speed of the breeze. A breeze at dusk or at night is more likely to be laminar than a breeze when the sun is strong. A breeze on a beach is more likely to be laminar than a breeze inland.

Some enterprises intentionally create laminar breezes indoors: semiconductor fabs, surgical operating rooms, mushroom growers. The method universally used (squirrel-cage fans and HEPA filters) might also reliably filter coronavirus from the laminar breeze.

Here is a home-made laminar flow "wall" to be used to prepare mushrooms for growing:

Comment by rhollerith_dot_com on When is it Wrong to Click on a Cow? · 2020-06-21T22:08:53.357Z · LW · GW

(I will avoiding any discussion of brain stimming because I prefer to keep the discussion as concrete as practical. Brain stimming lacks concreteness because our species has almost no experience with brain stimming of humans.)

A young man's spending his evenings clicking on cows is a sign that something is seriously wrong with him. You say as much when you write, "they’re not the kind of person you’d want your children to marry."

In your hypothetical you do not give any details to suggest what might be wrong. If you had hypothesized for example that a 70-year-old man in a wheelchair living alone on government handouts spends his evenings clicking on cows, my guess is that you would feel less repugnance because you have been socialized to be sympathetic towards the disabled and the poor.

But human lives go seriously wrong all the time in ways that cannot be catalogued in a straightforward way into a bin labelled chronic illness, chronic poverty, substance abuse or such.

It has only been a century or two since part of the world has learned *not* to react with repugnance and moral condemnation towards, e.g., a person who has obvious signs of chronic illness, and even in the populations most inclined to be sympathetic, most people will react with moral condemnation toward personal failure when there are no signs as to the cause of that failure.

I hope you don't mind my saying this, but you have given no indications in this post that you aren't having the natural human reaction to a strong sign of severe personal failure (namely, moral condemnation).

You write, "I think if stimming was cheap and easy, most people would do it". If most people would do it, then it is not a sign of a serious personal failure as much as a sign of a serious societal failure. In any case, I don't see how it sheds any useful light on the matter whether or not you feel moral repugnance.

Comment by rhollerith_dot_com on Why Rationalists Shouldn't be Interested in Topos Theory · 2020-05-25T13:36:46.750Z · LW · GW

I like Girard. The Rust programming language's borrow checker probably wouldn't've been invented yet if it weren't for Girard's 1987 paper, "Linear logic". (The paper got sustained attention from numerous programming-languages researchers; I read many thousands of papers on programming-language design before the appearance of Girard 1987 and I can recall no exploration of the use of linear types, use-once variables or whatever you want to call them before Girard 1987.)

Comment by rhollerith_dot_com on What happens in a recession anyway? · 2020-04-01T19:16:02.294Z · LW · GW

If I lose my job, but most of the other men in my workplace and in my social environment keep theirs, that tends to have a much worse effect on my self-esteem than if all the men in my workplace lose their job because the government closed the workplace by fiat or if half of the men in my social environment lose their jobs because of a lockdown, so I would expect this recession to cause fewer suicides in the US than a typical US recession did since a persistent sense of not measuring up to the other men in my social environment is according to my understanding a major cause of suicide.

The other major cause of suicide according to my understanding is a breakdown in society: in short people need to feel like they belong -- to know where they belong in the social structure, which doesn't happen during rapid social change (whether the change is "positive" or "negative" in the long term). That explains the huge increase in suicide (and addictive behavior) in Russia in 1991. Although the lockdowns in response to the virus are causing disruptions, men know the disruptions will end and that when they do, most social arrangement will go back to the way it they were -- in sharp contrast to the situation in Russia in 1991. Consequently I wouldn't expect the lockdowns to disrupt society enough to cause a large increase in suicides.

Clarification: I think most men know or will soon enough find out, e.g., through the media that the lockdowns won't persist past the end of next winter (Northern Hemisphere) at the latest.

Comment by rhollerith_dot_com on April Coronavirus Open Thread · 2020-04-01T14:49:30.494Z · LW · GW

If you are wondering what the typical humidity is where you live, note that almost any build that is 10 deg F or more warmer than its surrounding because it is heated will have relative humidity (which is what parent means by "humidity") well below .6.

Relative humidity is expensive to control partly because it is expensive for an automated system to measure. My guess is that on the margin, distributing fresh surgical masks to everyone entering the building would be much cheaper (and more effective) even when we adjust for the fact that an emergency ramp-up of mask production is much more expensive than normal, "peacetime" mask production. (I added "on the margin" to adjust for the fact that surgical masks are most efficiently produced in a facility that can supply many orders of magnitude of buildings.)

Comment by rhollerith_dot_com on Heads I Win, Tails?—Never Heard of Her; Or, Selective Reporting and the Tragedy of the Green Rationalists · 2019-09-26T17:50:13.320Z · LW · GW

I appreciate the fix.

Comment by rhollerith_dot_com on Heads I Win, Tails?—Never Heard of Her; Or, Selective Reporting and the Tragedy of the Green Rationalists · 2019-09-25T23:28:13.656Z · LW · GW

Here is Zack's article formatted as plain text suitable for offline reading:

Comment by rhollerith_dot_com on How Much is Your Time Worth? · 2019-09-06T10:00:09.050Z · LW · GW

Light physical activity through the day is definitely good for living longer and more importantly staying instrumentally rational longer.

Comment by rhollerith_dot_com on Could we solve this email mess if we all moved to paid emails? · 2019-08-13T00:31:41.069Z · LW · GW
If businesses can simply buy their way around the problem they'll do exactly that. . . . you're forced to wait by PoW

I don't understand. An employee of the business writes the message, then hits send, which causes the provable work to be done by some computer somewhere after which the message is delivered. (The code to do that when a person hits send does not currently exist, but it is only a few lines of code, and if your proposal gets adopted by many people, then such code will come into existence.)

When is this waiting that you refer to? Is the fact that there is a delay between the hitting of the send button and the delivery of the message supposed to act as a deterrent somehow?

If the provable work is something that only a human can do, i.e., cannot effectively be automated, then why did you mention BOINC?

Comment by rhollerith_dot_com on "But It Doesn't Matter" · 2019-06-01T13:20:44.056Z · LW · GW

>The fact that H is interesting enough for you to be considering the question at all means that it must have some relevance to the things you care about .

Even if H came to my attention because I read it in a comment on the internet?

Even if I live in medieval Europe and am surrounding by people who like to argue about how many angels can fit on the head of a pin?

Comment by rhollerith_dot_com on What features of people do you know of that might predict academic success? · 2019-05-10T18:52:17.421Z · LW · GW

I know nothing of RAISE or its strategy, so my answer will address only the broader question of which prospective AI safety workers to encourage or to invest resources in.

Although it is not true of everything worth teaching a prospect, many of the things worth teaching a prospect (including general instrumental rationality skills) can be used both for increasing AI safety and for irresponsible AGI research. The best way I have been able to think of to reduce the likelihood that an investment in a prospect will go on to be used by that prospect for irresponsible AGI research is to choose only female prospects and those few male prospects who show very strong signs of being better investment targets than average.

This is a completely serious suggestion although I might change my mind if I knew about more AGI researchers and AI safety researchers and activists. I know about only about a dozen of them. All the irresponsible ones are male whereas the two women in my sample, Anna Salamon and Katja Grace, are definitely responsible. My basis for that conclusion: in a previous decade I had the distinct pleasure of having long conversations with the two.

Comment by rhollerith_dot_com on Towards a Quieter Life · 2019-04-23T18:12:27.597Z · LW · GW

> I can Sabbath for a bit

OK, but please keep in mind that for you to Sabbath the way that, e.g., Isaac Newton Sabbathed would require almost everyone around you to be Sabbathing, too (if only out of fear of social ostracism or excommunication).

Sabbathing helped in traditional European society probably by making it easier for people to feel connected to those around them (a feeling that contemporary Americans probably sorely lack). This feeling of connection is a relatively weak feeling, easy eclipsed by, e.g., the fear of going hungry or not making rent or the anticipated pleasure of experiencing an increase in status or an improvement in material circumstances.

One of the reasons the art of rationality is not more popular is that most employed adults in the West are not curious because curiosity is a weak drive relative to many other adult drive, and my experience (sample size of about 2, namely me and my best friend) is that the calm joy of feeling a human connection with those around one is even weaker than curiosity.

Comment by rhollerith_dot_com on Why Are Transgender People Immune To Optical Illusions? · 2019-04-06T17:24:15.521Z · LW · GW

This is not Scott, but I'm curious what DP means. Depersonalization?

Comment by rhollerith_dot_com on Do you like bullet points? · 2019-03-26T21:14:51.443Z · LW · GW

I am likely to decide against my reading any LW post consisting only of bullet points because although I can recall reading lots of "ordinary" texts that proved beneficial to me, I cannot recall reading a text consisting only of bullet points that proved beneficial (except for manuals for products that need assembly by the consumer).

Comment by rhollerith_dot_com on Active Curiosity vs Open Curiosity · 2019-03-17T16:40:31.213Z · LW · GW

When someone says that an important business meeting should start with small talk they usually mean that it should start with open curiosity before proceeding to active curiosity.

When I was in my late teens and early 20s I spent almost no time in open curiosity (basically because I was very bad at it, and like many young men I was driven to achieve mastery in something quickly, which entails getting better at the things I was already good at). Now that I am in my 50s I find myself avoiding active curiosity most of the time when the stakes are high (!) because I have noticed that I make more serious mistakes if I don't force myself to avoid active curiosity most of the time that I spend thinking about the things that matter to me the most (with the result that most of my hours of active curiosity are devoted to tangential concerns, e.g., improvements to my personal software environment, e.g., learning a little linear algebra, both of which a tangential concerns in my particular life). There are reasons to believe that my mind would work much better and that I would be able to stay actively curious a much larger fraction of the time I spend on my core concerns (without my finding in retrospect that I was making worse decisions) if I had established the habit in my teens and 20s to interleave my intervals of active curiosity with long intervals of open curiosity.

Years ago IIRC I came across a web page that claimed that the people running MIT were publicly seeking an explanation for why the careers of successful MIT grads tend to peter out later in life relative to the careers of successful grads of Harvard. It is possible that the explanation includes the fact that hard science and engineering require the practitioner to spend more of their time in active curiosity or "focused attention" than other high-powered careers do. (The things I spend my teens and 20s being actively curious about were mostly computing and math.)

Note that the flow state is usually highly pleasurable (which is why people spend so much time talking about it on the public internet) and that if you are in the flow state, switching from active curiosity to open curiosity will cause an abrupt cessation of the pleasure.

Comment by rhollerith_dot_com on What To Do If Nuclear War Seems Imminent · 2018-09-15T18:33:48.615Z · LW · GW

>The survival guide is rather dated, 30+ years and close to 40 for what was not updated in the rewrite. I wonder if the weather patterns have not changed enough to make some of the argument moot.

None of the advice in the survival guide is dependent on weather patterns. Specifically, although some places, e.g., extreme Northern California, are likely to be survivable without a fallout shelter after a nuclear war, there is no place in the continental US that is guaranteed to be survivable, so since fallout shelters *are* a guarantee and can be built by most families, the survival guide advises everyone to build a fallout shelter as soon as war has become likely.

The author of the survival guide (Kearny) was focused on the survival of his country (the US) as a whole and didn't give advice about "selfish" survival strategies such as bolting to New Zealand that do not contribute to the survival of the country as a whole.

Someone who does advise about "selfish" strategies is Joel Skousen, who has worked as a consultant to wealthy Americans on the subject. Skousen stresses that the main danger faced by people who've prepared for nuclear war is refugee flows consisting of millions of completely-unprepared Americans. Most large American urban areas have only enough food (e.g., in supermarkets and warehouses) to feed their populations for about 4 days, and once that food is gone, the people start walking into the countryside. So for example, Skousen has investigated the behavior of refugees near the end of the European Theater of WWII and has found that everything within about 5 miles of a road gets ransacked by refugees looking for food.

(The problem of refugees is why during the cold war Switzerland and some of the Scandinavian countries required the entire population to be prepared. E.g., Swiss cities could shelter their entire population in large communal fallout shelters whereas anyone building a house in suburban or rural Switzerland was required by law to also build a co-located fallout shelter.)

Skousen started out advising people to move to sparsely-populated parts of the US, but many people who did so reported back to Skousen that they ran out of money after a few years and that there was no way to earn money in the regions Skousen advised them to relocate, so nowadays he focuses more on strategies like having one member of the family learn how to fly a plane, then relocating to western Montana (the place in the US he considers the most survivable) using the plane on the first serious signs of war.

(The missile fields of eastern Montana and nearby are separated from western Montana by mountains that fallout will not cross. Yes, I have noticed that Skousen's thinking is distorted by paranoia and conspiracy theories.)

Comment by rhollerith_dot_com on When is unaligned AI morally valuable? · 2018-06-06T03:38:07.888Z · LW · GW

>the maximizer may choose to go to space, looking for more accessible iron. The benefits of killing people are relatively small

The main reason the maximizer would have for killing all the humans is the knowledge that since humans succeeded in creating the maximizer, humans might succeed in creating another superintelligence that would compete with the maximizer. It is more likely than not that the maximizer will consider killing all the humans to be the most effective way to prevent that outcome.

Comment by rhollerith_dot_com on Meta-Honesty: Firming Up Honesty Around Its Edge-Cases · 2018-05-29T03:35:39.984Z · LW · GW

Maybe what is going on here is that you are satisfied with your brain's current ability to make ethical choices, but Eliezer isn't, and his efforts to improve have yielded some thoughts worth putting on the public internet to try to help others who are also dissatisfied with their brain's current ability to make ethical choices.

Comment by rhollerith_dot_com on Meetup : Seattle Rationality Reading Group · 2018-05-12T00:06:19.339Z · LW · GW

This is spam

Comment by rhollerith_dot_com on Naming the Nameless · 2018-03-23T16:01:26.918Z · LW · GW

This comment is only tangentially related to the post, in particular, to the first 15 or so paragraphs of it.

Marin County, the part of the Bay Area in which I live, doesn't have outdoor advertising except on buses, on less than a dozen bus shelters (all of which are within 100 yards of highway 101) and on the property (the retail location) of the firm whose product or brand is being advertised.

Of course people's aesthetic responses vary, but for me personally, my being spared from most of the outdoor advertising I'd be subjected to if I lived in another suburban or urban location in the US, e.g., Berkeley, dwarfs all the aesthetic considerations mentioned in the first 15 or so paragraphs of this post about where to live. (Not that the aesthetic considerations in this post are not worthy of discussion.)

Comment by rhollerith_dot_com on LW 2.0 Open Beta Live · 2017-09-25T01:23:22.885Z · LW · GW

I can corroborate that the scrolling is painful on sufficiently old hardware (and two of the not-home not-work places I most like to hang out in these days have hardware that is sufficiently old).

Scrolling for example is painful near the bottom (in the comments) of the recent article on the Cambrian explosion on a Core 2 Duo running Windows Vista, in Chrome. In particular, it takes whole seconds for the text to appear. (Till then the view port is blank / white.)

But even when I'm using reasonably fast hardware, my reaction to any signs that the text on a web page is not being produced "the old fashioned way" (and the new site certainly has such signs) is to ask myself if I really need to continue using the site.

Even a site's use of a font I don't recognize I provokes that reaction in me.

Why? Well, it is a sign that I will run into further irritants. Some actions will work slightly differently from the way I am used to with the result that I have to stop concentrating on the reason I came onto the web site to figure out scrolling or searching in the page or making sure the right pane on the screen has "keyboard focus" or how to change the size of the text. Or I will have to figure out how to undo the effects of some action I took accidentally.

If you're reading this and cannot relate, then maybe that is because I have cataracts, so a large text size is more important to me than it is to you. Or maybe it is because I have a 57-year-old brain and some chronic health issues so that it is harder for me to retain what is in my working memory when things jump around on a page in ways that my brain cannot predict.

Or maybe it is because I prefer the kinesthetic sensory modality which makes me care more about subtleties in the computer's response to various "attempted manipulations" (e.g., attempting to scroll or to use the pointing device to select an extent of text) of the web page.

The new LW site is not doing anything that many many other web sites are not also doing, so this is a comment about modern web sites more than it is a comment about the new version of LW.

I realize that this comment is rough on the creators of the next version of LW since it is negative feedback, but not actionable negative feedback (since they've already implemented a particular design). I considered refraining from publishing it, but went ahead because writing this comment, then observing how many points it ends up with is by far the easiest way for me to find out how many LWers share my frustrations (and knowing that is even more useful to me than knowing how many in the general population of internet users share my frustrations). I won't make a habit of complaining about it.

Comment by rhollerith_dot_com on How often do you check this forum? · 2017-01-31T22:47:15.495Z · LW · GW

when I visit LW, I am almost always using a desktop computer. sometimes whole months go by without my visiting LW. to see what is new on LW, I scan (which mixes discussion and main). I never look at Open Thread posts. added: I took the poll.

Comment by rhollerith_dot_com on Meetup : Bay Area Winter Solstice 2016 · 2016-12-14T21:16:09.886Z · LW · GW

Some of the past Solstices have been recorded with a video camera. Do the organizers know of any plans to record this year's event? (I ask because whether I am being recorded affects how spontaneous I am willing to behave.)

Comment by rhollerith_dot_com on Rationality Quotes December 2014 · 2014-12-09T00:50:58.426Z · LW · GW

His girlfriend, or one of his girlfriends (I'm not sure how many he had at the time) told me she thinks the beard is really hot.

Comment by rhollerith_dot_com on The 5-Second Level · 2014-10-30T14:52:22.507Z · LW · GW

These days I use /usr/bin/afplay. The advantages are (1) lightweight program that loads quickly, (2) installed by default on all Macs.

Comment by rhollerith_dot_com on Prediction of the Internet · 2014-08-23T15:10:39.571Z · LW · GW

J.C.R. Licklider seems to have understood most of its importance in the early 1960s, writing that it would become, "the main and essential medium of informational interaction for governments, institutions, corporations, and individuals."

Not only did he predict it and write about it, he was one of the most important factors in actualizing it: through his position in the management hierarchy of ARPA, he directed the funding of research into "packet switching", which is the main technical difference between the internet and, e.g., the telephone network, which in its early decades -- before it was subsumed into the internet in the 1990s and 2000s -- operated according to a contrasting principle called "circuit switching".

Licklider was a mentor to Lawrence Roberts, who through his position at ARPA directed additional funding to packet-switching research and to the actual creation in 1969 of the network (ARPAnet) that would become the internet.

Licklider's 1961 paper "Intergalactic Computer Network" would be a good place to look for information about what exactly Licklider was able to predict.

Although I know of no indications in their writings that he or Roberts understood the eventual importance of amateurs on the internet, someone in the chain of cause-and-effect between Licklider and Roberts and the actual implementation the internet understood some important things about contributors because the design of the internet made it easy for individuals to contribute -- and the only reason I am using the word "individuals" rather than "amateurs" is that before the early 1990s it was difficult for the average person to access the internet (or even to learn that it exists) without being employed by a large organization with a technological or scientific mission or employed or enrolled in an elite university.

I. J. Good wrote -- in the early 1960s IIRC -- that although artificial intelligence was the most potent long-term technological project he knew about, research into packet-switching was worth funding because it would probably bear fruit before AI would and because it would tend to amplify the "collective intelligence" of the human race.

When the ARPAnet consisted of only a handful (two?) machines, Doug Engelbart was already involved in some of the nut-and-bolts of getting it working. That fact, combined with Engelbart's prescience on other matters, combined with Engelbart's explicitly-stated career goal of increasing the "collective intelligence" of the human race, make him another author I would read if I were looking for early accurate predictions about the impact of what came to be called the internet.

Vannevar Bush's 1945 article "As We May Think" is generally considered the earliest published prediction of the societal importance of computer networking and computer-mediated communication.

Bush, Licklider, Roberts and perhaps also Good were "East Coast technocrats": people who alternated between being on the faculty of prestigious schools and management jobs in the U.S. Department of Defense.

I once knew a smart guy who was under the impression that the only basic research necessary for the creation of the internet was the research that led to sufficiently-fast computers and to the ability to communicate over fiber-optical cables, essentially ignoring the problems "higher up on the stack". A good antidote to that mistake is to read some seminal research papers, particularly the 1981 paper "End-to-end arguments in system design".

Comment by rhollerith_dot_com on How to make AIXI-tl incapable of learning · 2014-06-12T15:15:08.571Z · LW · GW

Upvoted for having math in it and plausibly being relevant :)

Comment by rhollerith_dot_com on Less Wrong on Twitter · 2014-04-18T00:00:42.252Z · LW · GW


Comment by rhollerith_dot_com on One Medical? Expansion of MIRI? · 2014-03-19T03:45:18.322Z · LW · GW

Thanks for the replies (and congrats to the new team members). I imagined that One Medical Group was somehow strategically involved in the expansion of MIRI, neglecting to consider the possibility that the reason for their inclusion in the name of the party is their [del: having paid for the pizza and beer :del] being a MIRI donor.

Comment by rhollerith_dot_com on Open Thread for January 8 - 16 2014 · 2014-01-09T12:37:45.366Z · LW · GW

Same here:

Comment by rhollerith_dot_com on Open Thread for January 8 - 16 2014 · 2014-01-09T11:57:32.962Z · LW · GW

If you have not dealt with something the DSB before, you're probably drastically overestimating how much mental effort they are willing to expend to help you. (I dealt with a similar agency, the California Department of Rehabilitation, many years ago.)

Although it is of course good for you to try to estimate how much mental effort they are willing to make in real time during the interview, I suggest the plan you go into the meeting with assume it is low. E.g. you might consider just asking for a notetaker over and over again.

Try to appear a little dumber than you actually are.

I would not risk alienating your parents to try for a deeper conversation with DSB staff.

Comment by rhollerith_dot_com on Twelve Virtues booklet printing? · 2013-11-16T08:35:18.581Z · LW · GW

Downvoted for probable spam.

If you're not a spammer, reply to this and I'll reverse my downvote.

Comment by rhollerith_dot_com on The dangers of zero and one · 2013-11-16T00:55:23.298Z · LW · GW

Downvoted for being spam.

Comment by rhollerith_dot_com on Studying business. Rational organizations. · 2013-10-23T22:22:09.441Z · LW · GW

(The reason for the lateness of my reply is that I haven't checked LW in couple of months.)

I took a sequence of two introductory classes (titled "financial accounting" and "managerial accounting") at a third-rate college. That was very valuable. (They were very easy classes.) Just reading a textbook or two would probably suffice for you. I do not have any textbook titles to recommend, but it seems hard to screw up a textbook on introductory accounting, so I'd just pick the texts that are easiest for you to get your hands on. A 50-year-old textbook is probably OK, BTW; the material has not changed much.

After digesting a textbook or two, if you still want to learn more, or if you want to complement your general knowledge with much more specific knowledge from an expert practitioner of a field in which knowledge of accounting practices is required, I recommend Ian Grigg's blog.

Comment by rhollerith_dot_com on A map of Bay Area memespace · 2013-10-23T20:55:30.891Z · LW · GW

No one's mentioned neuro-linguistic programming, created by people living in Santa Cruz, CA, which if not in the Bay Area, is certainly adjacent to it.

(I'd describe it as a contrarian approach to psychotherapy.)

Comment by rhollerith_dot_com on An attempt at a short no-prerequisite test for programming inclination · 2013-07-02T19:01:10.881Z · LW · GW

Coincidentally, there is another current attempt to use a LW poll to determine whether a simple test is useful for predicting success at programming-like jobs. Basically, it just asks you at what age you learned to touch type.

Comment by rhollerith_dot_com on Open Thread, July 1-15, 2013 · 2013-07-02T17:36:15.563Z · LW · GW

Well, I hope you told the poll that your career attempt succeeded and also put in the age that you learned.