Comment by riceissa on What's the most "stuck" you've been with an argument, that eventually got resolved? · 2019-07-01T05:26:21.804Z · score: 7 (4 votes) · LW · GW

"Sam Harris and the Is–Ought Gap" might be one example.

Comment by riceissa on GreaterWrong Arbital Viewer · 2019-06-29T03:34:15.105Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Some of the math seems to be garbled, e.g. this page (compare with the version on and this page (compare with the version on

Comment by riceissa on Arbital scrape · 2019-06-07T03:20:28.092Z · score: 10 (6 votes) · LW · GW

The scrape seems to be missing the Solomonoff induction dialogue, which was available at (at the moment I just get an error).

ETA (2019-06-28): The new version of the scrape has this page, and can be viewed on the GreaterWrong version.

Comment by riceissa on Was CFAR always intended to be a distinct organization from MIRI? · 2019-05-28T04:31:45.094Z · score: 15 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Going by public documents, it seems like the intention was to have a separate organization pretty early on (although I can't say about the very beginning since I wasn't involved).

The Articles of Incorporation for CFAR (called Feynman Foundation at the time) are dated July 18, 2011, and 501(c)(3) status was approved on July 26, 2011.

MIRI's 2011 strategic plan (updated August 2011; unclear when it was first written) says "Encourage a new organization to begin rationality instruction similar to what Singularity Institute did in 2011 with Rationality Minicamp and Rationality Boot Camp."

The Minicamp took place in May–June 2011, and it seems like the Boot Camp took place in June–August 2011, so it looks like by the time the first workshop finished and the second was in progress, the plan was already to start the new organization. However, it's still possible that there was no plan for a separate organization before or during the first workshop.

MIRI's December 2011 progress report also talks about plans to create the "Rationality Org".

I also wrote a timeline of CFAR a while back, which has more links.

Comment by riceissa on "One Man's Modus Ponens Is Another Man's Modus Tollens" · 2019-05-20T09:12:20.586Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The examples in the buckets error post have "modus delens" as the correct response. To take the diet example from the post, A = "diet worth being on", B = "zero studies suggesting health risks". Adam has stored in his brain, and Betty presents , so Adam's brain computes . The "protecting epistemology" move is to instead adamantly believe A ("I need to stay motivated!") which ends up rejecting what Betty said. But the desired response is to instead deny B but also accept A, and hence to deny the implication .

So in these buckets error examples, modus ponens corresponds to the "automatic" reasoning, modus tollens corresponds to the "flinching away from the truth" move, and modus delens corresponds to the "rational" move that avoids the buckets error.

I explained this more in a comment on the post.

I can't comment as to the relative frequency of this response and how often it's correct (this sort of question seems difficult to answer).

Comment by riceissa on Announcement: AI alignment prize round 4 winners · 2019-05-19T15:44:53.934Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Was this post ever published? (Looking at Zvi's posts since January, I don't see anything that looks like it.)

Comment by riceissa on Flashcards for AI Safety? · 2019-05-14T20:04:06.447Z · score: 15 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I've made around 250 Anki cards about AI safety. I haven't prioritized sharing my cards because I think finding a specific card useful requires someone to have read the source material generating the card (e.g. if I made the card based on a blog post, one would need to read that exact blog post to get value out of reviewing the card; see learn before you memorize). Since there are many AI safety blog posts and I don't have the sense that lots of Anki users read any particular blog post, it seems to me that the value generated from sharing a set of cards about a blog post isn't high enough to overcome the annoyance cost of polishing, packaging, and uploading the cards.

More generally, from a consumer perspective, I think people tend to be pretty bad at making good Anki cards (I'm often embarrassed at the cards I've created several months ago!), which makes it unexciting for me to spend a lot of effort trying to collaborate with others on making cards (because I expect to receive poorly-made cards in return for the cards I provide). I think collaborative card-making can be done though, e.g. Michael Nielsen and Andy Matuschak's quantum computing guide comes with pre-made cards that I think are pretty good.

Different people also have different goals/interests so even given a single source material, the specifics one wants to Ankify can be different. For example, someone who wants to understand the technical details of logical induction will want to Ankify the common objects used (market, pricing, trader, valuation feature, etc.), the theorems and proof techniques, and so forth, whereas someone who just wants a high-level overview and the "so what" of logical induction can get away with Ankifying much less detail.

Something I've noticed is that many AI safety posts aren't very good at explaining things (not enough concrete examples, not enough emphasis on common misconceptions and edge cases, not enough effort to answer what I think of as "obvious" questions); this fact is often revealed by the comments people make in response to a post. This makes it hard to make Anki cards because one doesn't really understand the content of the post, at least not well enough to confidently generate Anki cards (one of the benefits of being an Anki user is having a greater sensitivity to when one does not understand something; see "illusion of explanatory depth" and related terms). There are other problems like conflicting usage of terminology (e.g. multiple definitions of "benign", "aligned", "corrigible") and the fact that some of the debates are ongoing/some of the knowledge is still being worked out.

For "What would be a good strategy for generating useful flashcards?": I try to read a post or a series of posts and once I feel that I understand the basic idea, I will usually reread it to add cards about the basic terms and ask myself simple questions. Some example cards for iterated amplification:

  • what kind of training does the Distill step use?
  • in the pseudocode, what step gets repeated/iterated?
  • how do we get A[0]?
  • write A[1] in terms of H and A[0]
  • when Paul says IDA is going to be competitive with traditional RL agents in terms of time and resource costs, what exactly does he mean?
  • advantages of A[0] over H
  • symbolic expression for the overseer
  • why should the amplified system (of human + multiple copies of the AI) be expected to perform better than the human alone?
Comment by riceissa on How much do major foundations grant per hour of staff time? · 2019-05-05T20:18:46.228Z · score: 18 (5 votes) · LW · GW

You might have in mind a Facebook post that Vipul Naik wrote in 2017.

Comment by riceissa on When is rationality useful? · 2019-04-25T14:33:54.363Z · score: 15 (5 votes) · LW · GW

We can model success as a combination of doing useful things and avoiding making mistakes. As a particular example, we can model intellectual success as a combination of coming up with good ideas and avoiding bad ideas. I claim that rationality helps us avoid mistakes and bad ideas, but doesn’t help much in generating good ideas and useful work.

Eliezer Yudkowsky has made similar points in e.g. "Unteachable Excellence" ("much of the most important information we can learn from history is about how to not lose, rather than how to win", "It's easier to avoid duplicating spectacular failures than to duplicate spectacular successes. And it's often easier to generalize failure between domains.") and "Teaching the Unteachable".

Degree of duplication and coordination in projects that examine computing prices, AI progress, and related topics?

2019-04-23T12:27:18.314Z · score: 27 (9 votes)
Comment by riceissa on Diagonalization Fixed Point Exercises · 2019-04-14T19:57:38.709Z · score: 11 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Thoughts on #10:

I am confused about this exercise. The standard/modern proof of Gödel's second incompleteness theorem uses the Hilbert–Bernays–Löb derivability conditions, which are stated as (a), (b), (c) in exercise #11. If the exercises are meant to be solved in sequence, this seems to imply that #10 is solvable without using the derivability conditions. I tried doing this for a while without getting anywhere.

Maybe another way to state my confusion is that I'm pretty sure that up to exercise #10, nothing that distinguishes Peano arithmetic from Robinson arithmetic has been introduced (it is only with the introduction of the derivability conditions in #11 that this difference becomes apparent). It looks like there is a version of the second incompleteness theorem for Robinson arithmetic, but the paper says "The proof is by the construction of a nonstandard model in which this formula [i.e. formula expressing consistency] is false", so I'm guessing this proof won't work for Peano arithmetic.

Comment by riceissa on Diagonalization Fixed Point Exercises · 2019-04-14T19:41:46.836Z · score: 11 (3 votes) · LW · GW

My solution for #12:

Suppose for the sake of contradiction that such a formula exists. By the diagonal lemma applied to , there is some sentence such that, provably, . By the soundness of our theory, in fact . But by the property for we also have , which means , a contradiction.

This seems to be the "semantic" version of the theorem, where the property for is stated outside the system. There is also a "syntactic" version where the property for is stated within the system.

Comment by riceissa on Diagonalization Fixed Point Exercises · 2019-04-01T18:56:07.202Z · score: 9 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Attempted solution and some thoughts on #9:

Define a formula taking one free variable to be .

Now define to be . By the definition of we have .

We have

The first step follows by the definition of , the second by the definition of , the third by the definition of , and the fourth by the property of mentioned above. Since by the type signature of , this completes the proof.

Things I'm not sure about:

It's a little unclear to me what the notation means. In particular, I've assumed that takes as inputs Gödel numbers of formulas rather than the formulas themselves. If takes as inputs the formulas themselves, then I don't think we can assume that the formula exists without doing more arithmetization work (i.e. the equivalent of would need to know how to convert from the Gödel number of a formula to the formula itself).

If the biconditional "" is a connective in the logic itself, then I think the same proof works but we would need to assume more about than is given in the problem statement, namely that the theory we have can prove the substitution property of .

The assumption about the quantifier complexity of and was barely used. It was just given to us in the type signature for , and the same proof would have worked without this assumption, so I am confused about why the problem includes this assumption.

Comment by riceissa on Open Problems Regarding Counterfactuals: An Introduction For Beginners · 2019-03-26T04:22:52.885Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

That link works, thanks!

Comparison of decision theories (with a focus on logical-counterfactual decision theories)

2019-03-16T21:15:28.768Z · score: 57 (17 votes)
Comment by riceissa on Open Problems Regarding Counterfactuals: An Introduction For Beginners · 2019-03-14T23:13:52.958Z · score: 10 (4 votes) · LW · GW

The link no longer works (I get "This project has not yet been moved into the new version of Overleaf. You will need to log in and move it in order to continue working on it.") Would you be willing to re-post it or move it so that it is visible?

Comment by riceissa on What exercises go best with 3 blue 1 brown's Linear Algebra videos? · 2019-01-03T07:13:11.920Z · score: 12 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Some other sources of exercises you might want to check out (that have solutions and that I have used at least partly):

  • Multiple choice quizzes (the ones related to linear algebra are determinants, elementary matrices, inner product spaces, linear algebra, linear systems, linear transformations, matrices, and vector spaces)
  • Vipul Naik's quizzes (disclosure: I am friends with Vipul and also do contract work for him)

Regarding Axler's book (since it has been mentioned in this thread): there are several "levels" of linear algebra, and Axler's book is at a higher level (emphasis on abstract vector spaces and coordinate-free ways of doing things) than the 3Blue1Brown videos (more concrete, working in ). Axler's book also assumes that the reader has had exposure to the lower level material (e.g. he does not talk about row reduction and elementary matrices). So I'm not sure I would recommend it to someone starting out trying to learn the basics of linear algebra.

Gratuitous remarks:

  • I think different resources covering material in a different order and using different terminology is in some sense a feature, not a bug, because it allows one to look at the subject from different perspectives. For instance, the "done right" in Axler's book comes from one such change in perspective.
  • I find that learning mathematics well takes an unintuitively long time; it might be unrealistic to expect to learn the material well unless one puts in a lot of effort.
  • I think there is a case to be made for the importance of struggling in learning (disclosure: I am the author of the page).

GraphQL tutorial for LessWrong and Effective Altruism Forum

2018-12-08T19:51:59.514Z · score: 52 (11 votes)
Comment by riceissa on LW Update 2018-12-06 – Table of Contents and Q&A · 2018-12-08T05:32:18.233Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Is there (or will there be) a way to see a list of the latest posts, restricted to posts that are questions? (I am wondering about this both in the GraphQL API and in the site UI.)

Comment by riceissa on Turning Up the Heat: Insights from Tao's 'Analysis II' · 2018-11-29T20:40:19.507Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I think we are working off different editions. According to the errata, the condition for strict contraction was changed to for all distinct .

Comment by riceissa on Turning Up the Heat: Insights from Tao's 'Analysis II' · 2018-11-29T07:44:32.574Z · score: 9 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Can you say more about why exercise 17.6.3 is wrong?

If we define by then for distinct we have

We also have since

In general, the derivative is , which is continuous on .

Comment by riceissa on LessWrong analytics (February 2009 to January 2017) · 2018-11-24T07:43:02.644Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

There are some more data (post count, comment count, vote count, etc., but not pageviews) at "History of LessWrong: Some Data Graphics".

Comment by riceissa on Topological Fixed Point Exercises · 2018-11-19T02:33:57.115Z · score: 14 (5 votes) · LW · GW

My solution for #3:

Define by . We know that is continuous because and the identity map both are, and by the limit laws. Applying the intermediate value theorem (problem #2) we see that there exists such that . But this means , so we are done.

Counterexample for the open interval: consider defined by . First, we can verify that if then , so indeed maps to . To see that there is no fixed point, note that the only solution to in is , which is not in . (We can also view this graphically by plotting both and and checking that they do not intersect in .)

Comment by riceissa on Topological Fixed Point Exercises · 2018-11-19T01:54:05.398Z · score: 12 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Here is my attempt, based on Hoagy's proof.

Let be an integer. We are given that and . Now consider the points in the interval . By 1-D Sperner's lemma, there are an odd number of such that and (i.e. an odd number of "segments" that begin below zero and end up above zero). In particular, is an even number, so there must be at least one such number . Choose the smallest and call this number .

Now consider the sequence . Since this sequence takes values in , it is bounded, and by the Bolzano–Weierstrass theorem there must be some subsequence that converges to some number .

Consider the sequences and . We have for each . By the limit laws, as . Since is continuous, we have and as . Thus and , showing that , as desired.

Comment by riceissa on Topological Fixed Point Exercises · 2018-11-19T01:29:27.876Z · score: 11 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I'm having trouble understanding why we can't just fix in your proof. Then at each iteration we bisect the interval, so we wouldn't be using the "full power" of the 1-D Sperner's lemma (we would just be using something close to the base case).

Also if we are only given that is continuous, does it make sense to talk about the gradient?

Comment by riceissa on "Flinching away from truth” is often about *protecting* the epistemology · 2018-08-27T04:56:37.943Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I had a similar thought while reading this post, but I'm not sure invoking causality is necessary (having a direction still seems necessary). Just in terms of propositional logic, I would explain this post as follows:

1. Initially, one has the implication stored in one's mind.

2. Someone asserts .

3. Now one's mind (perhaps subconsciously) does a modus ponens, and obtains .

4. However, is an undesirable belief, so one wants to deny it.

5. Instead of rejecting the implication , one adamantly denies .

The "buckets error" is the implication , and "flinching away" is the denial of . Flinching away is about protecting one's epistemology because denying is still better than accepting . Of course, it would be best to reject the implication , but since one can't do this (by assumption, one makes the buckets error), it is preferable to "flinch away" from .

ETA (2019-02-01): It occurred to me that this is basically the same thing as "one man's modus ponens is another man's modus tollens" (see e.g. this post) but with some extra emotional connotations.

Comment by riceissa on Probability is Real, and Value is Complex · 2018-07-25T22:09:12.180Z · score: 8 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I was confused about this too, but now I think I have some idea of what's going on.

Normally probability is defined for events, but expected value is defined for random variables, not events. What is happening in this post is that we are taking the expected value of events, by way of the conditional expected value of the random variable (conditioning on the event). In symbols, if is some event in our sample space, we are saying , where is some random variable (this random variable is supposed to be clear from the context, so it doesn't appear on the left hand side of the equation).

Going back to cousin_it's lottery example, we can formalize this as follows. The sample space can be and the probability measure is defined as and . The random variable represents the lottery, and it is defined by and .

Now we can calculate. The expected value of the lottery is:

The expected value of winning is:

The "probutility" of winning is:

So in this case, the "probutility" of winning is the same as the expected value of the lottery. However, this is only the case because the situation is so simple. In particular, if was not equal to zero (while winning and losing remained exclusive events), then the two would have been different (the expected value of the lottery would have changed while the "probutility" would have remained the same).

Comment by riceissa on Opportunities for individual donors in AI safety · 2018-04-04T23:17:16.221Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I don't see reference number 17 ("Personal correspondence with Carl Shulman") used in the body of the post. What information from that reference is used in the post?

Timeline of Future of Humanity Institute

2018-03-18T18:45:58.743Z · score: 17 (8 votes)
Comment by riceissa on Open thread, January 29 - ∞ · 2018-02-02T08:41:16.996Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

do we have any statistics about it?

For sessions and pageviews from Google Analytics, I wrote a post about it in April 2017. Since you mention scraping, perhaps you mean something like post and comment counts; if so, I'm not aware of any statistics about that.

Wei Dai has a web service to retrieve all posts and comments of particular users that I find useful (not sure if you will find it useful for gathering statistics, but I thought I would mention it just in case).

Comment by riceissa on Could you be Prof Nick Bostrom's sidekick? · 2017-12-06T01:46:25.212Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Based on descriptions on the FHI website, it looks like Kyle Scott filled this role, from July 2015 to September 2017.

From the earliest snapshot of his FHI bio page:

Kyle brings over 5 years of operations experience to the Future of Humanity Instutute. He keeps daily operations running smoothly, and manages incoming and outgoing requests for Prof. Nick Bostrom.

Strategically, he works to improve the processes and capacity of the office and free up the attention and time of Prof. Nick Bostrom.

Kyle came to the Future of Humanity Institute from the Effective Altruism movement, determining that this job position would be his most effective contribution to society. Learn more about Effective Altruism here.

The page is still up but it doesn't look like he holds the position anymore.

He seems to be a project manager at BERI now:

Kyle manages various projects supporting BERI's partner institutions. He graduated Whitman College with a B.A. in Philosophy. He spent two years working in career services and subsequently moved to Oxford where he worked for 80,000 Hours, the Centre for Effective Altruism and most recently at the Future of Humanity Institute as Nick Bostrom's Executive Assistant.

On November 13, 2017 FHI opened the position for applications.

ETA: Louis Francini comes to the same conclusion on Quora. (Context: I asked the question on Quora, figured out the answer, posted this comment, then Louis answered my question.)

Comment by riceissa on AALWA: Ask any LessWronger anything · 2017-09-14T18:43:40.475Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

In some recent comments over at the Effective Altruism Forum you talk about anti-realism about consciousness, saying in particular "the case for accepting anti-realism as the answer to the problem of consciousness seems pretty weak, at least as explained by Brian". I am wondering if you could elaborate more on this. Does the case for anti-realism about consciousness seem weak because of your general uncertainty on questions like this? Or is it more that you find the case for anti-realism specifically weak, and you hold some contrary position?

I am especially curious since I was under the impression that many people on LessWrong hold essentially similar views.

Timeline of Machine Intelligence Research Institute

2017-07-15T16:57:16.096Z · score: 5 (5 votes)
Comment by riceissa on Timeline of Carl Shulman publications · 2017-07-05T19:53:41.356Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks for the feedback. I could add wordcount. Not sure what you mean by quality rating; LW, OB, and EA Forum have their own voting/rating mechanisms but are not compatible (so putting them in a column might be confusing, although grouping by venue and looking at ratings within each venue might be interesting). Summary would be the most time-consuming to produce, and many of Carl's posts have summaries at the top.

Comment by riceissa on Timeline of Carl Shulman publications · 2017-07-05T19:19:21.017Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I recently wrote an updated timeline. It includes not just formal publications, but also blog posts and conversations. To see just the formal publications, it is possible to sort by the "Format" column in the full timeline and look at the rows with "Paper".

LessWrong analytics (February 2009 to January 2017)

2017-04-16T22:45:35.807Z · score: 22 (22 votes)
Comment by riceissa on Linkposts now live! · 2016-09-28T23:03:50.150Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I confirm that I also experience this problem, but I don't have additional insight on the cause.

Comment by riceissa on A critique of effective altruism · 2016-07-25T19:38:39.183Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Hi Evan, did you ever write this post?

Wikipedia usage survey results

2016-07-15T00:49:34.596Z · score: 7 (8 votes)
Comment by riceissa on Gauging interest for a Tokyo area meetup group · 2014-12-02T00:47:16.528Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Okay I've created a Facebook group here:

(To be sure, I don't currently live in Tokyo, but I visit there every summer and would be very interested in attending during that time.)

Comment by riceissa on 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2014-10-28T07:52:57.928Z · score: 31 (31 votes) · LW · GW

I took the survey.

Comment by riceissa on Open thread, September 22-28, 2014 · 2014-09-28T08:51:23.614Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Gwern still links to some of muflax's writings, using his own backups. Googling something like " muflax" turns up some results (though not many).

Comment by riceissa on Open thread, September 15-21, 2014 · 2014-09-22T09:21:34.567Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I usually ask these as questions on Quora. Quora is incredibly tolerant of even inane questions, and has the benefit of allowing others to provide feedback (in the form of answers and comments to the question). If a question has already been asked, then you will also be able to read what others have written in response and/or follow that question for future answers. Quora also has the option of anonymizing questions. I've found that always converting my thoughts into questions has made me very conscious of what sort of questions are interesting to ask (not that there's anything right with that).

Another idea is to practice this with writing down dreams. After waking up, I often think "It's not really worth writing that dream down anyway", whereas in reality I would find it quite interesting if I came back to it later. Forcing oneself to write thoughts down even when one is not inclined to may lead to more sedulous record-keeping. (But this is just speculation.)

Comment by riceissa on Open Thread: how do you look for information? · 2014-09-11T03:05:37.911Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It's worth noting that there is also DuckDuckGo (a search engine), which has bang expressions for outsourcing results. Just to give some of the equivalents for those listed above: "!gi" for Google Images, "!yt" for YouTube, "!w" for Wikipedia, etc. To be sure, one has to rely on DuckDuckGo for adding the expressions (although I've had success suggesting a new expression before).

Comment by riceissa on Sequence translations: Seeking feedback/collaboration · 2012-07-10T23:26:58.823Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I am also interested in doing Japanese translations.