One Medical? Expansion of MIRI? 2014-03-18T14:38:23.618Z · score: 9 (12 votes)
Computer-mediated communication and the sense of social connectedness 2011-03-18T17:13:32.203Z · score: 4 (7 votes)
LW was started to help altruists 2011-02-19T21:13:00.020Z · score: -6 (25 votes)


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 · score: 4 (2 votes) · 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 · score: 4 (2 votes) · 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 · score: 2 (1 votes) · 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 · score: 2 (1 votes) · 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 · score: 4 (2 votes) · 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 · score: 2 (1 votes) · 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 · score: 5 (3 votes) · 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 · score: 2 (1 votes) · 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 · score: 6 (5 votes) · 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 · score: 8 (4 votes) · 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 · score: 11 (7 votes) · 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 · score: 6 (1 votes) · 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 · score: 10 (6 votes) · 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 · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This is spam

Comment by rhollerith_dot_com on Naming the Nameless · 2018-03-23T16:01:26.918Z · score: 6 (2 votes) · 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 · score: 10 (10 votes) · 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 · score: 3 (3 votes) · 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 · score: 0 (0 votes) · 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 · score: 1 (1 votes) · 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 · score: 0 (0 votes) · 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 · score: 0 (0 votes) · 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 · score: 1 (1 votes) · 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 · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW


Comment by rhollerith_dot_com on One Medical? Expansion of MIRI? · 2014-03-19T03:45:18.322Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · 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 · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Same here:

Comment by rhollerith_dot_com on Open Thread for January 8 - 16 2014 · 2014-01-09T11:57:32.962Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · 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 · score: 2 (2 votes) · 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 · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Downvoted for being spam.

Comment by rhollerith_dot_com on Studying business. Rational organizations. · 2013-10-23T22:22:09.441Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · 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 · score: 1 (1 votes) · 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 · score: 0 (0 votes) · 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 · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

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

Comment by rhollerith_dot_com on Mathematicians and the Prevention of Recessions · 2013-06-16T20:24:41.671Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

They might represent a transfer from taxpayers to bondholders and shareholders of banks, but not to the tune of $9 billion.

Typo: you meant, "trillion".

Comment by rhollerith_dot_com on After critical event W happens, they still won't believe you · 2013-06-14T02:23:46.512Z · score: 29 (29 votes) · LW · GW

I know that there were times when it was very controversial whether computers would ever be able to beat humans in chess

Douglas Hofstadter being one on the wrong side: well, to be exact, he predicted (in his book GEB) that any computer that could play superhuman chess would necessarily have certain human qualities, e.g., if you ask it to play chess, it might reply, "I'm bored of chess; let's talk about poetry!" which IMHO is just as wrong as predicting that computers would never beat the best human players.

Comment by rhollerith_dot_com on Do Earths with slower economic growth have a better chance at FAI? · 2013-06-13T02:30:21.388Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

How bad is an advance (e.g., a better programming language) that increases the complexity and sophistication of the projects that a team of programmers can successfully complete?

My guess is that it is much worse than an advance picked at random that generates the same amount of economic value, and about half or 2 thirds as bad as an improvement in general-purpose computing hardware that generates an equal amount of economic value.

Comment by rhollerith_dot_com on David Brooks from the NY Times writes on earning-to-give · 2013-06-05T19:07:53.366Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I am going to quote in its entirety a comment at Hacker News. Jason Trigg is the young philantropist referenced by the NYT article.

I went to college with dozens of Jason Triggs (including myself). We'd talk all the time about the money we'd make right out of college and how much good we'd do. ("$36k to work at a soulless consulting company? That's amazing! I'm living on less than 1k/month in college. I could save 5K and give 10k away and not even notice!") We had plans to give 20, 30, or 50 percent of our income away. Some of us even managed to do it for a couple years. The world gets to you, though. Your coworkers that dress nicer and go to happy hour with the boss get promoted. It gets tiresome to commute from a tiny apartment in New Jersey. You buy a house or get married to somebody who doesn't make much money. The stock market tanks and takes your savings with it. You figure out that you hate consulting and end up teaching science in a junior high. After a couple years, I'd bet that the average charitable contribution of my peer group had gone down to 5% or less.

I wish Mr. Trigg luck, but we've already lived his story. He might get a few good years in, but his life is unlikely to work out like he plans


Comment by rhollerith_dot_com on June 2013 Media Thread · 2013-06-04T13:29:55.139Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

When I become aware that a comedy is trying too hard, it can interfere with my enjoyment. The first few episodes of Buffy were like that. They were very tightly written. There were long stretches in which not 15 seconds went by without some sort of humor. I got the sense that the creators really cared about my reaction and were probably trying to impress me. All of which made me wary, which of course reduced the probability that I would laugh. In contrast, Arrested gives the appearance of sloppiness and not caring very much, but my guess is that that is a careful choice made by people who do care very much about what they are doing.

Comment by rhollerith_dot_com on June 2013 Media Thread · 2013-06-04T13:04:45.074Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

None of the things you list have bothered me or detracted from my pleasure. (I have seen the first 5 episodes.)

I am amused by your judging a very good comedy by the standards of drama (in your point 3). Sure, almost all comedy is improved by having dramatic elements and a dramatic story line, but since very good comedy is so much rarer and harder to pull off than very moving and very satisfying drama is, it does not occur to me to regret that the show would not be a particularly moving or satisfying drama if the comedic elements were removed.

In fact, I tend to regard the purposes of the dramatic elements as (1) helping me care about the characters, which of course makes the comedic elements better, and (2) keeping my mind occupied while my "humor batteries" are recharging themselves, i.e., counteracting the effect in which the final jokes of an uninterrupted series of jokes lose their kick. Of course, neither the presence of a dramatic climax or three-act structure contribute substantially towards those two purposes.

In a way I like (what I have seen so far of) season 4 even better since in season 2 or 3 the writing got a little mean (very occasionally) in the same way that for example David Letterman (much more often) gets mean. To be precise, David Letterman used to get mean the last time I watched him about 15 years ago, but he probably has not changed that.

Comment by rhollerith_dot_com on Using Evolution for Marriage or Sex · 2013-05-17T01:45:19.599Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

If the pathogen reproduces slowly (the pathogen that causes TB might be one such) or has some way of hiding from the immune system or is one of those viruses (e.g., the herpes family) that get into cells and tend to remain dormant for long intervals, then they can be very hard to detect and will certainly not show up in a WBC. I saw news reports earlier this year about evidence that some cases of obesity are caused by gut microbes not previously regarded by, e.g., doctors and society as being pathogenic.

Comment by rhollerith_dot_com on Using Evolution for Marriage or Sex · 2013-05-17T01:26:25.952Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Now that the biological dangers [of sex] are mostly gone

I know that most educated people believe that, but I've never seen a good argument for it.

At any rate I am almost sure that there are microbes causing significant amounts of death and disability (especially disability because it is a lot easier for our civilization to ignore or deny a cause of disability than to ignore a cause of deaths) that almost no one recognizes as pathogenic. And I tend to believe that for some significant fraction of these "insufficiently recognized" pathogens the more sexual partners you have, and the more likely you'll get it. (There are dozens of viral and bacterial infections -- including near a dozen at least in the herpes family -- that remain in the body and are more common in more promiscuous populations.)

In other words, there seems to be a strong selection bias whereby people tend to look only at the pathogens that are recognized as pathogens by, e.g., doctors.

It might be however that these biological dangers from less-recognized sexually-transmitted pathogens are concentrated in people who are old or already sick.

Any professional biologists or medical researchers wish to chime in?

Comment by rhollerith_dot_com on Post ridiculous munchkin ideas! · 2013-05-11T01:47:42.700Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Have been using f.lux for years. Highly recommended.

Comment by rhollerith_dot_com on New report: Intelligence Explosion Microeconomics · 2013-05-08T15:54:26.638Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Does anyone play (rated) chess on If so, do you want to get together to play some team games for the purposes of adding hard data to this discussion?

My blitz rating is in the high 1200s. My teammate should have a blitz rating close to that to make the data valuable. I play 8-minute games, and am not interested in playing enough non-blitz games to get my rating to be an accurate reflection of my (individual) skill. (Non-blitz games would take too much time and take too much out of me. "Non-blitz" games are defined as games with at least 15 minutes on the clock for each player.)

I envision the team being co-located while playing, which limits my teammate to someone who is or will be in San Francisco or Berkeley.

I've played a little "team chess" before. Was a lot of fun.

My contact info is here.

Comment by rhollerith_dot_com on Antijargon Project · 2013-05-08T01:56:07.866Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I cringe a little every time I see someone here write, "Suppose Omega told you X," when, "Suppose X," works just as well.

Comment by rhollerith_dot_com on [Link] More Right launched · 2013-05-08T01:45:22.648Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

This so-called iron law does not hold (and has never held) for Hacker News (which is 6.2 years old).

Comment by rhollerith_dot_com on Links passing through · 2013-04-27T14:07:06.843Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Am going to refer you to google since I do not run Windows or Android.

Unless what I have read is unusually misinformative, though, it is possible on both. (On Android you need access to root.)

Comment by rhollerith_dot_com on Links passing through · 2013-04-27T13:35:06.296Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

The Adblock Plus add-on for Firefox and Chrome will hide viglinks.

So will adding the line

to the /etc/hosts file according to at least a couple of writings on the web.

Comment by rhollerith_dot_com on Risk-aversion and investment (for altruists) · 2013-04-17T00:22:51.654Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Designed to grow fast is hard to observe.

Did you read the part where Paul Graham implies that a significant fraction of the startups in his program (YC) grow at a rate of 5-7% a week? I.e., every week they get 5-7% more users than they did the week before.

Yes, most of these users are non-paying users, but the experience of VCs and angel investors has been that if even one startup in an investor's portofolio manages to acquire multiple 100s of millions of non-paying users, that startup will usually eventually figure out how to make enough money to make up for all the failed startups in the portfolio.

The money in VC funds exceeds what the few VCs who are able to recognize good startups are able to usefully invest.


Comment by rhollerith_dot_com on Risk-aversion and investment (for altruists) · 2013-04-07T17:29:15.293Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

"startup" doesn't seem to be a well defined category.

Here is Paul Graham's definition:

A startup is a company designed to grow fast. Being newly founded does not in itself make a company a startup. Nor is it necessary for a startup to work on technology, or take venture funding, or have some sort of "exit." The only essential thing is growth. Everything else we associate with startups follows from growth.

That is from where we also find an explanation for why startups might outperform other classes of non-publicly-traded investments. Specifically, the explanation is that startups have less need for costly financial controls to protect the interests of the investors:

The other way to get returns from an investment is in the form of dividends. Why isn't there a parallel VC industry that invests in ordinary companies in return for a percentage of their profits? Because it's too easy for people who control a private company to funnel its revenues to themselves (e.g. by buying overpriced components from a supplier they control) while making it look like the company is making little profit. Anyone who invested in private companies in return for dividends would have to pay close attention to their books. The reason VCs like to invest in startups is not simply the returns, but also because such investments are so easy to oversee. The founders can't enrich themselves without also enriching the investors.

EDIT. Fixed the URL.

Comment by rhollerith_dot_com on Thoughts on the Singularity Institute (SI) · 2013-03-23T16:42:11.011Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I have enough experience of legal and adminstrative disability hearings to say that each side always has medical experts on its side unless one side is unwilling or unable to pay for the testimony of at least one medical expert.

In almost all sufficiently important decisions, there are experts on both sides of the issue. And pointing out that one side has more experts or more impressive experts carries vastly less weight with me than, e.g., Eliezer's old "Knowability of FAI" article at

Comment by rhollerith_dot_com on Anti-akrasia remote monitoring experiment · 2013-03-18T14:41:11.608Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Sadly, that is no longer true of the version of OS X released after that was written. Specifically, neither Lion's built-in "screen sharing" server nor Vine Server on Lion works with any of the Windows VNC clients we tried.

When someone used Windows remotely to monitor my OS X Lion desktop in 2012, it was through "captures" (still images) of my screen saved to a shared folder of Dropbox. Specifically, I wrote some code to fork and exec "/usr/sbin/screencapture -C" every 3 minutes.