Saturday June 24, meeting at Museum Kert 2023-06-11T08:58:10.939Z
Minimum Viable Exterminator 2023-05-29T16:32:59.055Z
Budapest, Hungary – ACX Meetups Everywhere Spring 2023 2023-05-01T17:36:55.929Z
Less Wrong/ACX Budapest Feb 4th Meetup 2023-01-28T14:49:41.367Z
October Budapest Less Wrong/ACX meetup 2022-10-03T10:53:29.467Z
Less Wrong Budapest July 30th Meetup 2022-07-24T19:07:58.854Z
Less Wrong / ACX Budapest June 11th Meetup 2022-06-08T05:16:00.928Z
Budapest Meetup 2022-04-13T17:23:59.084Z
Budapest Meetup 2022-03-06T09:22:44.932Z


Comment by Richard Horvath on The Flow-Through Fallacy · 2023-09-13T18:31:40.238Z · LW · GW

"Politician's logic"


Snappy British sitcom clip:

Comment by Richard Horvath on A Golden Age of Building? Excerpts and lessons from Empire State, Pentagon, Skunk Works and SpaceX · 2023-09-01T15:18:48.575Z · LW · GW

My quick impression for the overlapping similarities:

  1. An ambitious leader with a strong vision and mandate to make important decisions.
  2. Keeping the organization lean. Even in case of larger projects (construction), teams should be able to operate relatively independently, so at least being lean "locally" (not being forced into a larger hierarchy).
  3. Having effective executives with a lot of domain level experience.
  4. Keeping inferential-query distances short, whether by time (quick iterations) or space (engineers close to assembly plant), but preferably both.


For me this still points (yet again) towards shortening feedback loops: apart from directly being mentioned, generating the experienced leaders and workers is also possibly based on this. No one had as much experience in designing aircraft as the engineers who worked between the 40s and the 60s, just due to the sheer amount of equipment designed, both due to being less matured (lower hanging fruits), less regulated and just military spending being relatively higher during the era. I wonder though if we could replace some of the experience with simulations and games.

Comment by Richard Horvath on A Golden Age of Building? Excerpts and lessons from Empire State, Pentagon, Skunk Works and SpaceX · 2023-09-01T15:02:09.806Z · LW · GW

Thank you, I wanted to say the same.


SR-71 was not really flying above enemy territory: the high flight altitude made it possible to peek over the curvature of earth. It did not fly over the USSR like the U-2 did before the advent of anti-air missiles, but generally over allied/international borders, peeking into the forbidden territory. Interceptors were raised against it numerous times it but usually were unable to achieve a position where they could have attacked it successfully. I am not sure where the "fired at 4000 times" myth comes from, but it is nonsense. The S-200 (SA-5) systems introduced in the late 60s should have been able to shoot them down from relatively large distance, and it is recorded that Swedish JAS-37 jets were able to intercept and have a lock on it.

Comment by Richard Horvath on Even Superhuman Go AIs Have Surprising Failure Modes · 2023-07-23T10:41:14.895Z · LW · GW

I find it exciting for the following:

These AIs are (were) thought to be in the Universe of Go what AGI is expected to be in the actual world we live in: an overwhelming power no human being can prevail against, especially not an amateur just by following some weird tactic most humans could defeat. It seemed they had a superior understanding of the game's universe, but as per the article this is still not the same kind of understanding we see in humans. We may have overestimated our own understanding of how these systems work, this is an unexpected (confusing) outcome. Especially that it is implied that this is not just a bug in a specific system but possibly other systems using similar architecture will have the same defects. I think this is a data point towards A.I. winter to be expected in the coming years rather than FOOM.

Comment by Richard Horvath on Is there an easy way to turn a LW sequence into an epub? · 2023-06-03T10:52:36.292Z · LW · GW

There is now:


Contains not just the code to scrape sequences, but all sequences and monthly "best of LessWrong" compilations up until February 2023 in both pdf and epub format, which you can individually download from the github link.

Comment by Richard Horvath on Enjoy LessWrong in ebook format · 2023-06-03T10:49:07.411Z · LW · GW

Thank you!

Comment by Richard Horvath on I learn better when I frame learning as Vengeance for losses incurred through ignorance, and you might too · 2022-10-17T09:31:36.684Z · LW · GW

I think I did experience something like that. When learning new skills to change positions, I found myself eager to learn even after a long and tiring day or week if I concentrated on my dissatisfaction with the job I had that time. When contemplating about the phenomenon I kind of described it how a Sith is supposed to work, using his negative emotions to channel energy into the task. And indeed, by using this "passion" to "gain strength/power", I did "gain victory", so it worked out, as the Sith code preaches:)


Slightly off topic, but I like how user "chaosmage" made this post about using "Vengeance". I wonder if this can be classified as a case for Nominative Determinism.

Comment by Richard Horvath on A Few Terrifying Facts About The Russo-Ukrainian War · 2022-10-02T21:27:59.945Z · LW · GW

Russian military might. They have been hearing it all their lives:
learning about historical victories, watching movies about it on the TV, seeing the victory parade every 8th of May...

And they can point to the map, and show that Russia being the largest country by territory is proof enough.
Hell, even most of the world believed it until March.

Comment by Richard Horvath on A Few Terrifying Facts About The Russo-Ukrainian War · 2022-10-02T21:04:31.360Z · LW · GW

"Objection against "out of desperation". How is it desperation to lose something that you didn't own yesterday, just tried to take from someone and failed. (Yes, I am sure that Russia will spin it as desperation, but it is not.)"

I would make a comment here:

Losing a couple of provinces in Ukraine that just become part of the Russian Federation recently should not make "Russia" desperate. However, I believe we have a principal-agent problem here:
Russia can afford to lose this war, but the current Russian leadership does not. I think they believe there is a good chance that they would be removed by a coup or a revolution if they loose face due to military defeat.

I think the past 6 months of the conflict supports this view:
The Russian Armed Forces have been inefficiently throwing hard-to replace weaponry and manpower trying to conquer the rest of Donbass, while pretending this was the plan all along. It is a relatively worthless region(large portion of the population having fled, majority of industrial infrastructure having been/would be destroyed), and replacing lost equipment and professional personnel (especially officers and special operation units) will take many years, making Russian conventional forces severely weaker.
This seems to make as much strategic sense as trading your queen for a pawn.
That is, if you are using the POV of Russia. However, if you are considering the decision is made by the political leadership, hoping to hide that they screwed-up, it makes a lot more sense.

Comment by Richard Horvath on Less Wrong Budapest May 7th Meetup · 2022-05-07T12:50:24.717Z · LW · GW

We are currently at this spot: 47,5214910, 19,0456420

We have a blue and a red umbrella.

Comment by Richard Horvath on Three Miniatures · 2022-01-18T19:15:55.317Z · LW · GW

Thinking through my history of improvements, what seems to have worked for me:

1. Realizing I am dissatisfied with something.
2. Describe the problem and the desired outcome.
3. Search for solutions, compare multiple options.
Most techniques might require some tinkering/experimenting before they actually become useful. The longer feedback loop makes it is easier for snake oil salesman to enter such fields. To avoid these, check if the people promoting the solution are actually far above average in the ability the solution is supposed to grant, and if it is actually coming from the system and not from other factors. (e.g., if someone is selling you a way of making money, but the majority of his income is from selling seminars or running podcasts about it, that's a red flag)
4. Try implementing several versions, and keep using the one that seems to work best for my situation.
5. Practice the method, it should be running mostly on system one if you want to apply it effectively.


1. There was a period when I was dissatisfied with my grades during uni.
2. I thought about the issue and realized most of it was due to having started a second major and additional outside activities, so I had less time and more material to learn. I realized I needed to get more efficient at studying.
3. I searched for solutions on the net, and came across multiple memory enhancing tricks, mostly based on association and/or visualization of spatial environments. As these were usually promoted by memory world champions, whose records were verified and recorded (and who claimed to have been average before they started using the promoted material, for which there was no counter evidence), the techniques looked plausible enough to put in the required effort.
4. I tried two main versions: one using simply associations and one using mainly spatial locations (memory palace). At the start the first one seemed to work better, but with a bit more practice I realized the second one is the stronger technique that I need.
5. Through the rest of uni I kept practicing it even when it was not needed, making it an always ready to use skill of mine, cutting time required for cramming drastically while also improving the results.

Another important aspect is that may happen when searching for solutions, is realizing that it is possible to have it better, you can (and could already have) create a world, counterfactual to the current one, where you are way more satisfied. 

Comment by Richard Horvath on Why maximize human life? · 2022-01-08T00:44:42.015Z · LW · GW

Kaj_Sotala provided a good answer, but I want to give an intuitive example:

If you could decide whether:
A: a single person lives on Earth, supported by aligned AGI, its knowledge and all resources of the planet in service of nothing but his welfare, living in abundance not even the greatest emperors ever dreamed of.
B: a civilization of tens of billions living on Earth, supported by aligned AGI, thanks to which all of them have at least the living standard of a current upper-middle class American.

I believe most people would choose option B. Of course, this is not independent of living conditions (greatly influenced by anchoring), but for me covers the general "feeling" of the idea. I would formulate it along the lines of "due to diminishing returns, spending resources on increasing living standards above a certain level is wasteful, more goodness/utility is created if other humans are included".

I would like to also suggest for reading a sci-fi short story by one of the LessWrongers, which deals a lot with this question (among other things that are also memeworthy), especially in chapter 3:

Comment by Richard Horvath on Hammertime Day 1: Bug Hunt · 2021-12-27T13:40:05.823Z · LW · GW

Probably my strangest bugfix was realizing that sometimes I get too immersed in an activity and go to bed hours after I planned to. This still happened even after I setup alarms/reminders for specific hours. I would just turn them off and continue browsing/playing/watching "just for another 15 minutes", which would sometimes turn to hours.

The solution was to set an alarm with a title and decision that I am not allowed to turn it off, unless I temporarily stop what I am doing for a minute, during which I change my location to another room, and talk to one of my shoulder advisors ( ).

This had the desired effect of changing my frame of mind to one that can stop the activity for the day and start doing the night routine I planned for that day.

Comment by Richard Horvath on TAPs for Tutoring · 2021-11-26T15:27:37.571Z · LW · GW


Paraphrasing is useful because it forces you to check the parts of the concept (elements and their relations) you are about to explain. While just giving something back word-by-word could hide the lack of understanding, if you understand the concept, you should be able to give back the details in a different order/point of view. If you understood the main parts, and how they are connected, you can give a different explanation (changing the order/showing different sides, replace parts etc), while also retaining the meaning of the content. While trying to do this, you have to make sure all details are connected properly (and are actually observed, as a lot of them may be be assumed to be known implicitly), otherwise you will not be able to follow through with the exercise.

A good analogy could be building a lego object: if I show you how to do it, and then you have to assemble it again from scratch, you should be able to succeed in this while starting at a different part and adding the blocks in a different order than I did. This requires a much better understanding than just copying the very moves I made in the same order.


Example: I explain to you, how to make an omelette (heat up pan, put on oil to avoid the eggs sticking to it, pour scrambled eggs into the pan, use the spatula to optimize form/density, add grated cheese then fold the sides on top). To paraphrase the process back to me, you should understand how the steps are connected, so even if your circumstances are different, you can replace/move around object to fulfill the meaning: the point is to scramble and fry eggs on an open surface without burning them.* If you do not have a pan, a pot may suffice, you can use butter instead of oil, and so on.



*a valid point could be made that omelette is more than that, please excuse the simplification I made for demonstration.

Comment by Richard Horvath on Come for the productivity, stay for the philosophy · 2021-11-10T11:39:02.715Z · LW · GW

It would be nice to collect examples on such things (e.g., studying X in the long term helped me with Y problem through concept Z). It could help people decide what to study and insipre them to keep doing it.

Comment by Richard Horvath on In Defence of Optimizing Routine Tasks · 2021-11-10T11:07:59.685Z · LW · GW

I would add that often automating the task is way more fun than doing the task itself. Once I spent a lot of time automating something that was so mind numbing (simple, boring, but required constant focus as a small mistake would have had negative consequences) that I thought I rather shoot myself than do it again.

Although it turned out to also have saved a lot of time in the long run (it was not clear during that time how many times I would have had to do the task), I would have still chosen automation for the mental health benefits.

Comment by Richard Horvath on There Meat Come A Scandal... · 2021-11-08T15:46:47.252Z · LW · GW

I agree. I think it is more likely that "real" meat will be mixed into lab-grown, to dilute the cost/keep up with the demand.

I think it is more likely that some wholesalers and retailers will be faking the lab-grown meat without the knowledge of the original producer, selling in similar boxes.

Comment by Richard Horvath on Eliezer Yudkowsky Facts · 2021-10-28T14:08:51.569Z · LW · GW

"An AI programmed to maximize utility will tile the Universe with tiny copies of Eliezer Yudkowksy."

This one aged well:

Comment by Richard Horvath on Training Regime Day 8: Noticing · 2021-10-27T20:22:57.758Z · LW · GW

Reporting on the exercise:

First the exercise itself caused me to have thoughts on what "reflection" actually is. Would a shiny metal metal roof, reflecting a lot more sunlight than its neighbours be "reflection"? In the end, I focused mostly on surfaces that reflect enough light to enable the identification of a non-light-emitting object that is being reflected (mostly windows). There were many of these, but the point of view influenced the outcome: if you walk a bit further, you may see a reflection on a surface you did not see before.

But what is more important for this exercise: after I stopped consciously noticing these and had a half an hour break, my mind was still prone to pick up reflections and pull these into my consciousness. In the end it subsided, but it seems plausible to me that you can train yourself to notice small specific things/feelings without too much of an effort.

Comment by Richard Horvath on Training Regime Day 3: Tips and Tricks · 2021-10-22T09:19:33.891Z · LW · GW

As part of exercise #2, I hereby record my pledge to carry out this training regime, by completing one article each day (including the exercises) over the next ~ 30 days. Furthermore, I plan to write a comment detailing my experiences after completing the whole regime.

Comment by Richard Horvath on Training Regime Day 1: What is applied rationality? · 2021-10-20T09:13:28.066Z · LW · GW

Okay, so my take on this:

Applied rationality is the conscious method of selecting the best way for reaching the desired goal, including the use of a different method in cases where other methods are superior.


  • An A. I. controlling a space ship will follow generally the best route it rationally calculates, but in a new, complex zone an otherwise inferior human pilot (or neural network) which is already well trained in that domain will be the better, hence it will rationally transfer control
  • It makes sense to calculate the trajectory of a ballistic missile before launching, but do not try to do the same when playing basketball
Comment by Richard Horvath on The S&P 500 Will Drop Below 3029 Before July 16 (65 percent confidence) · 2021-10-10T12:40:11.081Z · LW · GW

Thank you.

I understand the key issue with the Fed (and correspondingly other actors) misjudging inflation while being highly leveraged, and I do see it as a very good point in the current situation. If we were to see inflation going back to levels expected by the Fed (2-3% I suppose?) how would that change your forecast?

When you wrote "The main thing I’m worried about is increased savings" did you mean what you described in the previous paragraph (e.g. zero-NPV assets investing and alike), or was it something else?

Comment by Richard Horvath on The S&P 500 Will Drop Below 3029 Before July 16 (65 percent confidence) · 2021-10-10T10:24:31.905Z · LW · GW

No, it is certainly not the most efficient, but it is the easiest to execute: if you have a brokerage account, you can just buy an inverse ETF and you are in a (leveraged) short position.

Comment by Richard Horvath on The S&P 500 Will Drop Below 3029 Before July 16 (65 percent confidence) · 2021-10-10T09:44:49.222Z · LW · GW

I think an easiest way to short SP500 is via inverse ETFs: 
These move in opposite direction compared to the particular index (times 1/2/3 depending on type).


A counter point could be that due to cheap index ETFs and the prevalence of passive investing it is possible that in general a lot of metrics will have a higher base level. This has happened before, e.g. before the 90s, CAPE of 20 was quite high, but since that time it seems more of a base level (we haven't been below 20 since 2010). In particular: highest before 2008 crash was a bit above 27. We are above that since Dec 2016.
So main argument (based on high CAPE levels) was true almost five years ago. The same is true for a lot of other metrics:
Margin to debt was 3% in Jan 2017:
Interest rates were also pretty low (though not this much, but still very low compared to pre 2009 levels):
and inflation (though still consistently below 3% all year) was clearly higher than in the preceding 4 years:

So, my question is: in a counterfactual world in February 2017, if I were to argue based on above data that you should move from equity to bond/cash/short positions as I am expecting 30% drop in US stocks within 2 years, how would you know that it was still to early?

Comment by Richard Horvath on Shoulder Advisors 101 · 2021-10-09T17:03:04.831Z · LW · GW

I love how Jean-Luc Picard was selected to be one of your advisors. He is also among my best candidates :).


What is the largest number of advisers you have known people to actively use? I am a bit reluctant to cut it down to four or five.

Comment by Richard Horvath on A Modest Proposal: Logging for Environmentalists · 2021-08-19T20:24:07.017Z · LW · GW

Interesting idea. I wonder if you could actually do that in a single step: take a bulldozer (or some special machinery like that), fell the trees and cover them with earth on the spot. The route of these could be based on satellite imagery, and different equipment may be used for different areas (e.g. if only smaller plants are to be covered)

Comment by Richard Horvath on Relentlessness · 2021-07-31T11:27:25.941Z · LW · GW

1. You can think of a learning mind as a tool for mapping cause and effect relationships by being affected by them.
If you live among speakers of a language you experience a lot of interactions (e.g. people refer to an object with the same sound) ---> these change your mind (associations created via neurons) ---> better knowledge of language (better mapping between variables in this domain)

2. However, when you move a mind to a space with more data of a subject, other variables can also change, which might have a negative impact and can disable the mind.
If you want to find out how to float on water, jumping into a deep pool and experimenting with motions will help in finding the ones that achieve this (again, the mind is creating connection between movements done with the limbs and how they affect movement in the water). However, if you can't find the correct motions, you will sink to the bottom. ---> your brain will not receive oxygen ---> your mind is disabled (death)

3. So you want to be careful about which space you move a mind to. It is not enough to have more data, you should control other variables to make sure the mind is safe.
Learn the basics of swimming in shallow water.

4. As minds change through learning, variables may have different effect on them than before.
If you know how to swim, jumping into a deep pool won't kill you anymore in most circumstances.

Comment by Richard Horvath on Four Components of Audacity · 2021-06-21T10:20:31.723Z · LW · GW

I think being status-blind should make you impertinent by default.

Comment by Richard Horvath on The Moon is Down; I have not heard the clock · 2021-06-15T18:38:31.851Z · LW · GW

This is probably the best example I have seen of "Joy in the Merely Real".

Comment by Richard Horvath on The Fall of Rome: Why It's Relevant, And Why We're Mistaken · 2021-04-24T17:47:05.313Z · LW · GW

I would like to slightly argue with this proposition regarding the fall of Rome.

It is indeed true that the direct reason for the fall was the weakness of the late Roman armies compared to barbarian forces.
But Rome moved away from using farmer soldiers as the  backbone of the army with the Marian reforms in 107 BC. This did not stop the expansion of the empire nor weakened the army for several centuries. Q.E.D.

However, I think your speculation in the second part (transition of power) is actually a really good explanation for this decline of the Roman army. The Imperial armies often rebelled in the late period, trying to promote a new Emperor. To counter this, reforms were introduced that decreased the chance of a successful army rebellion, but they also greatly diminished their effectiveness:
"Under the Roman emperors, besides, the standing armies of Rome, those particularly which guarded the German and Pannonian frontiers, became dangerous to their masters, against whom they used frequently to set up their own generals. In order to render them less formidable, according to some authors, Dioclesian, according to others, Constantine, first withdrew them from the frontier, where they had always before been encamped in great bodies, generally of two or three legions each, and dispersed them in small bodies through the different provincial towns, from whence they were scarce ever removed but when it became necessary to repel an invasion. Small bodies of soldiers quartered, in trading and manufacturing towns, and seldom removed from those quarters, became themselves tradesmen, artificers, and manufacturers. The civil came to predominate over the military character, and the standing armies of Rome gradually degenerated into a corrupt, neglected, and undisciplined militia.."
(The link is to the first chapter of Book 5 of the famous Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith. I suggest reading it, it has really good insights on the nature of armies.)

Comment by Richard Horvath on The best frequently don't rise to the top · 2021-03-25T13:18:54.704Z · LW · GW

I agree that often the best don't rise to the top, but you have bad examples here.

You are confusing expertise in different domains: just because one is exceptional in something, it does not follow they are good at teaching it or making videos of it.
This is especially apparent in Bottura's channel. He might be the best chef in the world, but his youtube content is mediocre.

Comment by Richard Horvath on Birds, Brains, Planes, and AI: Against Appeals to the Complexity/Mysteriousness/Efficiency of the Brain · 2021-01-19T10:07:51.660Z · LW · GW

I like the bird-plane analogy. I kind of had the same idea, but for slightly different reason: just as man made flying machines can be superior to birds in a lot of aspects, man made ai will most likely can be superior to a human mind in a similar way.

Regarding your specific points: they may be valid, however, we do not know at which point in time we are talking about flying or AI: Probably a lot of similar arguments could have been made by Leonardo da Vinci when he was designing his flying machine; most likely he understood a lot more about birds and the way they fly than any of his contemporaries or predecessors; yet, he had no chance to succeed for at least three additional centuries. So are we in the era of the Wright Brothers of A.I., or are we still only at da Vinci's?

I personally think the former is more likely, but I believe the probability of the second one is a lot greater than zero.

Comment by Richard Horvath on What is going on in the world? · 2021-01-18T14:24:38.272Z · LW · GW

Almost all of these could have been said 50 years ago with no or minor (e.g. change Trump to Nixon) change with pretty much the same emphasis. Even those that not (e.g. Pandemic), could be easily replaced with other things similar in nature in absolute outcome (famine in China, massive limitation of mobility (and other freedoms) in the Eastern Block etc.).

Even 100 years ago you could make similar cases for most things (except A.I., that is a newer concept, yet there could have been similar issues in those times for which people had the same hope for that I am not aware of).

Yet, here we are, better off than before. Was this the expected outcome?

Comment by Richard Horvath on What is it good for? But actually? · 2020-12-17T09:11:58.845Z · LW · GW

Generally I am quite wary with explanations of evolutionary psychology, but I think a good point can be made that going to war oversees is very similar to going out to hunt mammoth for the tribe: a dangerous travel-adventure to kill things to help the tribe. I suppose people with such tendencies were more likely to reproduce.

Comment by Richard Horvath on Nuclear war is unlikely to cause human extinction · 2020-11-18T10:08:56.762Z · LW · GW

"Something that I hadn't considered before: would it be possible to move people into target areas (before attacks) or radiated areas (afterwards) by using conventional and/or area denial weapons?"

I don't think so. Generally if you want to increase casualties you would want to have people concentrated as much as possible, so move people into already large cities. However, people during wartime (and pandemics) usually tend to move out from such places, this is shown both by historical experience and to me seems to be the logical way to act (as cities are targeted due to critical infrastructure they contain and most services cities offer become severely limited).

Even if the countryside were targeted deliberately for this effect, conventional weapons cannot be used efficiently for this kind of area denial, for such nuclear weapons seem to be the most effective, maybe alongside with chemical weapons, but those have the same limitation (fallout directed by weather conditions, wind in particular) with far less power.

Comment by Richard Horvath on Top Time Travel Interventions? · 2020-10-27T23:12:49.058Z · LW · GW

I travel back in time to the 1170s and shoot Temüjin, aka Genghis Khan, before he could establish his empire.

Although there had been good policies he promoted (e.g., religious tolerance, trade), the probable upsides vastly outweigh this.

Just to name a few that I consider to be most important:

1. During the Mongol conquest tens of millions perished. This had been the approximately third bloodiest "conflict" in all human history. However, unlike e.g. the World Wars, where several large  belligerents existed without a single pivotal person (e.g., even without a Hitler, a bloody Second World War could have happened, just as a first one did in the same region between the same states) and almost all of it could have been avoided if the Mongol Empire is not formed at all.

2. As part of these conquests Baghdad and it's Grand Library was destroyed, which were the center of Islamic scholarship of that time. Most likely this had been a huge factor in the decline of secularism and scientific inquiry in the Middle East.

3. The mainstream theory regarding the spread of Black Death in Europe says it arrived via Genoese traders who fled from the Mongol siege of Kaffa, Crimea, where mongols catapulted infected corpses over the city walls. If really that was the source, avoiding this could have changed the prevented/delayed the spread of the disease and deathtoll might have been much lower.

As these all would have happened about 8 centuries ago, the long term effects would be even greater.

Comment by Richard Horvath on LessWrong FAQ · 2020-10-27T23:02:13.090Z · LW · GW
Comment by Richard Horvath on LessWrong FAQ · 2020-10-27T23:00:37.045Z · LW · GW
Comment by Richard Horvath on LessWrong FAQ · 2020-10-27T22:59:46.769Z · LW · GW
Comment by Richard Horvath on LessWrong FAQ · 2020-10-27T22:57:54.693Z · LW · GW
Comment by Richard Horvath on LessWrong FAQ · 2020-10-27T22:57:10.476Z · LW · GW

I did not find a designated page, so I am going to test the spoiler function here.


test spoiler 123


Comment by Richard Horvath on Is Success the Enemy of Freedom? (Full) · 2020-10-27T18:30:35.716Z · LW · GW

This reminds me of Seneca.

Your modern parables give a better frame for some of his advises:

"Set aside a certain number of days, during which you shall be content with the scantiest and cheapest fare, with coarse and rough dress, saying to yourself the while: “Is this the condition that I feared?”"

Comment by Richard Horvath on How to reach 80% of your goals. Exactly 80%. · 2020-10-12T11:32:58.721Z · LW · GW

Good idea, I might actually try this one.

Some questions on implementation:

When do you set your daily goals? Are you doing this exercise each morning of the particular day, or are you setting these on the evening before?

Do you have specific time slots set to update the tracking or do you do that each time you complete a task?

Did you change something in the process since you started using it (e.g., something that seemed too arduous or ineffective)?

Comment by Richard Horvath on Rationality and Climate Change · 2020-10-06T16:17:45.326Z · LW · GW
  1. Climate change is only negative insofar as it causes negative change in human welfare.
    1.  Human welfare in this framework is a function of natural environment (which includes climate) and all improvements added to this environment by human effort (e.g. roads, houses, electricity network etc.), which I will refer to as "capital".
    2. If the climate of an area changes to one that is better suited for human welfare (e.g. allows better crop yields, lessens the need of energy consumption for heating or cooling etc.), climate change has a positive effect.
    3. As capital needs to be replaced over a time period (e.g., infrastructure has to be repaired and maintained, which can be measured in a ratio of cost of maintenance/cost of  production, lets call this "replacement rate"), climate change will have a negative effect on human welfare if the change causes the replacement rate to increase (e.g., if expenses on air conditioning rise faster due to climate change then they drop on insulation from cold).
  2. For advanced civilizations climate change is inevitable.
    1. One cannot drain energy from a system without affecting it.
      Hence, the higher we are on the Kardashev scale the larger the impact of our energy consumption on our environment.
    2. Even if we change to other energy sources, the environment will still be affected. I do not see serious research into this. Even worse, it seems most people have the illusion that other energy sources might have zero effect on the environment. Large dams already show otherwise for hydroelectric, but it is not so clear on other sources.
      As a thought experiment: imagine we are living in a world where the ratio of fossil fuel and wind energy usage is exactly the opposite. As CO2 emission is 1-2% of our world's, we would not be able to find negative effect from this on climate. To me it is plausible that that is the same case with other sources of energy.
  3. We are bad at figuring out what climate will do in the future and what how consumption affects it.
    1. I am not very familiar with contemporary publications on this, but I am quite sceptical about our ability to make accurate predictions, especially as it is the local climate that mostly affects human welfare, global average temperature is a very weak estimation for this.
    2. In case of human consumption, all supply chain through the whole product lifecycle must be mapped if we desire an accurate top-down solution. I do not see this in the proposed solutions. I have the impression they are only dealing with CO2 production during operation, ignoring production and decomission and all other negative externalities.
  4. The climate change issue is a discussion of an externality problem with weak understanding of causal effects and very large number of participants.
    1. There is a classic economics example: 
      Two firms located on a river. Upstream firm pollutes the river, reducing output for the downstream firm.
    2. To modify this to climate change: replace the river with an ocean, increase the number of actors to 8 billion, allowing them to create non-fixed sets (e.g., companies, towns, families), have them all affect each other in a very small way, which if summed up changes the pollutedness in a specific direction but which still increase production is some beaches of the ocean, but we do not know to what extent exactly. (and here we haven't even elaborated on different jurisdictions).

As per above, it is a difficult question. However, even if we found a good solution, the issue has become so politicised that carrying out any plan without massive disruption by interest groups is unavoidable.

Comment by Richard Horvath on What hard science fiction stories also got the social sciences right? · 2020-10-02T16:00:38.859Z · LW · GW

Well, integrating all our best knowledge of social sciences for SciFi is hard. I am not sure if I can judge if it was successful or not in most cases. What I can point out instead is a couple of works where something like this had been attempted, as the author gave serious thought on how different technology and environment would affect society:

  1. Moon Is A Harsh Mistress by Heinlein
    I think the elaboration on how family structure is changed due to low female:male ratio and dangerous environment makes sense ( ), and the book contains a lot of good thought on other things like this.
  2. Revelation Space series by Alastair Reynolds
    In these books a lot of different social structures are listed that are possible due to technology, such as the Democratic Anarchism (quoting from the wiki):
    "The Demarchy functioned by means of a neural implant that constantly sought the user's opinion on aspects of Demarchist life. This constant prompting eventually faded away into the user's neural background, much like the ticking of a clock might fade away into background noise.
    Each core was tasked with collecting and processing votes, and also determining whether or not the elected decision was the best one in previous elections -- voters who continually made "good" decisions were rewarded by having their vote count for more than one standard vote."
    The second book ("Chasm City") also elaborates on how the crew of a small fleet of multi-generational interstellar ships would live and be organized until they reach their destination in the not-so-far future (so without neural links and magic gadgets).
  3.  We Are Legion (We Are Bob) by Dennis E. Taylor.
    This one is less rigorous on the "hard" part than the previous two. I really like some ideas, such as if  human minds can be uploaded and multiplied, we would could end up a whole industry being operated by the copies of a single expert.
Comment by Richard Horvath on Changes in Reality · 2020-09-07T21:44:31.142Z · LW · GW

Some comments:

  • Social systems are also part of reality and they influences economic and technological environment just like the other way around. E.g. the social change caused by modern contraception greatly influenced consumption habits, therefor causing changes in investments into research and production
  • I don't know if " technology/science have slowed down", this is hard to measure. Yet if it did I believe it is due to reaching a plateau in most fields where the returns are strongly diminishing. That is: no more low hanging fruits, loads of research needed for small improvement. Shovels and knives did not change too much in the past two millennia after all.
  • "but we will not have enough time to converge on a new social system " - what does this mean? Is this when social media started to be designed to cause dopamine loops? Or is it when millions starved to death in North Korea? Is this when the Soviet Union collapsed? Is this when the French revolution happened? Is this why the Cahokia civilization declined?
Comment by Richard Horvath on The US Already Has A Wealth Tax · 2020-08-21T14:57:55.573Z · LW · GW

I think you made a very good point on why Paul Graham's example in itself is not as strong as it may seem: there are already investors and founders who are paying something similar in the form of inflation and capital gains tax.

I think you also made a not entirely fair comparison: founders of companies and stock investors are not in the same position.

For a stock investor it might not be a such a great difference if you pay your tax in one portion after 15 years or if you pay the same distributed to 15 distinct tax years.*

However, for a founder of a not-yet-public-company this is not the case. Imagine if you own 10% of a startup after you receive venture capital of 100 M USD for 50% of all stocks. That gets your 10% valued at 10 M. Still, it is entirely possible that you have hardly any cashflow and and can barely make ends meet, yet now with a 0,5% wealth tax you owe 50,000 a year to IRS. You have to get that 50k for each year until your company goes public and you can actually sell your shares, which might be 5-10 years down the road, if you ever get there.

*of course, even as a public market investor you would face additional transaction costs of converting your assets to cash when tax payment is due.

Comment by Richard Horvath on On Systems - Living a life of zero willpower · 2020-08-17T20:13:23.971Z · LW · GW

Thanks for these great ideas.

I am quite confused by the concept of willpower, which is, as you put it, "fuzzy". On one side, I encounter a lot of advice like yours, where we are urged to preserve it, like a limited resource. On the other hand, there are other advice out there that supposedly help us increase our willpower, using the same concepts that we increase our physical fitness with. These usually involve doing uncomfortable tasks, like having cold showers or focusing on specific objects.

If I assume willpower works the same way as muscles, creating a very systematic life where one barely needs to use it would weaken it in the long term. Though, it is possible that we are actually overusing so much that using systems actually gives the same kind of rest our body needs after a workout before it could get stronger.

Is there a good reconciliation of the preserve vs. develop willpower debate?

Comment by Richard Horvath on The Atomic Bomb Considered As Hungarian High School Science Fair Project · 2020-08-16T10:50:52.569Z · LW · GW

Hi Scott,

First of all, thanks for the article. It's a great demonstration of how thorough investigation can falsify myths of simplistic explanation, such as attributing the creation of great minds to a single teacher or educational institution.

I do have some hypothesis regarding this topic:

1. Luck: Such extraordinary minds as Teller, Neumann and Wigner are produced by chance. We were just lucky that we got so many in that era and we are just fooled by randomness and our eagerness to find causal relationship everywhere.

2. Easier problems: I do not know much about contemporary physics, so I am probably wrong on this one, yet I think it shall be mentioned: These great minds were not as extraordinary as we believe. We have comparable people even nowadays, Teller's generation produced more results due to "low hanging fruits": the problems they solved were easier than the problems that remained, hence the lack of such great breakthroughs in contemporary physics.

3. Akrasia: As you mentioned, even before starting their formal education, these people were already extraordinary. Probably due to them being the first generation where their families could afford to have them study instead of contributing to their income. But hey, this is still true for subsequent generations! So why do we not have such great minds? I think this is due to circumstances talented kids in that era were raised: If smart kids wanted to entertain their minds the only thing they could do was studying complicated subjects. They had no TV, comic books, fantasy or science fiction, reddit, mmorpgs or social networks. They had nothing that would drain their attention so they could focus all their time and energy in mastering math, physics and other like subjects. In addition, as they already did this for fun when they were young, even later in their life they could easily focus on these as they did not attribute this activity to be "work" but something they were happy to do.

3.2 This all could have been enhanced by living in a community where being highly educated was a display of great social status, so their families were be motivated to spend a great fortune of tutors, books and to encourage the children.

I must admit, I did not research properly that era, so my assumptions might be wrong.