Migraine hallucinations, phenomenology, and cognition 2021-05-08T15:56:37.985Z
Consciousness of abstraction 2020-12-21T21:35:31.001Z
Is the work on AI alignment relevant to GPT? 2020-07-30T12:23:56.842Z
Utility need not be bounded 2020-05-14T18:10:58.681Z
Who lacks the qualia of consciousness? 2019-10-05T19:49:52.432Z
Storytelling and the evolution of human intelligence 2019-06-13T20:13:03.547Z


Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Does butterfly affect? · 2021-05-14T07:47:06.181Z · LW · GW

I commented about this on a related post.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Agency in Conway’s Game of Life · 2021-05-13T07:35:42.109Z · LW · GW

Here is a simple disproof of the control question.

Among the possible ways the rest of the grid could be filled, one is that is it empty except for the diagonally opposite corner, where there is a duplicate of the top left corner, rotated 180 degrees. Since this makes the whole grid symmetrical under that rotation, every future state must also be symmetrical. The smiley does not have that symmetry, therefore it cannot be achieved.

Also, what Charlie Steiner said.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Sympathy for the ferryman of Hades, or why we should keep Trump off Twitter · 2021-05-12T17:25:13.061Z · LW · GW

It was a response to your final question about treating people with equal standards, drawing attention to the ambiguity of the concept.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Sympathy for the ferryman of Hades, or why we should keep Trump off Twitter · 2021-05-12T13:35:58.931Z · LW · GW

A tweet by the PotUS has large effects, the same tweet by me would have none. Should the tweets be equally judged by just the actual words, or equally judged by the effects they are likely to have?

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Utility need not be bounded · 2021-05-10T16:53:46.679Z · LW · GW

I just remembered that, having had the paper rejected by a couple of journals, a few months ago I decided to just put in online here. Those who saw the 25-page version may be relieved to know that this greatly improved version is only 4 pages. The paper includes a link to code on GitHub for its simulations.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Migraine hallucinations, phenomenology, and cognition · 2021-05-08T17:54:07.722Z · LW · GW

Something like. The twisted cord illusion is an especially strong example.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on My Journey to the Dark Side · 2021-05-08T15:10:33.734Z · LW · GW

But Unity of Knowledge! The fun puzzles for some are exactly what has pushed others off the deep end.

Another 20-some Insanity Wolf memes added to the collection. I appear to be immune to basilisks. I can distantly appreciate the structure of Roko's Basilisk, but I saw nothing but incoherent rambling in Pasek’s Doom. I scoff at neurobabble and suspect anyone talking about "mental tech" to be infected with scientology. My faith, standing on a solid foundation of doubt, is a stout defence of my reason against vampires.

Perhaps not believing in total preference orderings or utility theory as the fundamental ground of motivation has something to do with that.

See also.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Occam’s Guillotine · 2021-05-07T20:32:00.059Z · LW · GW

Is this Eliezer spoken through a megaphone, or am I missing something?

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on My Journey to the Dark Side · 2021-05-07T15:21:05.591Z · LW · GW

I had not realised that there is such a quantity of batshit insanity in the rationality community. Poe's law has applied to the collection of Insanity Wolf memes I recently made. (I won't link them again; you can look for the link if you really want to see it. It's twice as long as it was then.)

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Why I Work on Ads · 2021-05-04T09:22:53.025Z · LW · GW

For me, every web page would be improved if it had no ads. Ads just get in the way of whatever my purpose was in going to that web site. How big sites like YouTube can support themselves is an important question, and maybe one must put up with ads, faute de mieux, but that does not change the fact that they are invariably a bad experience for me. The number of times I've hit mute on a particular middle-aged prat launching into his spiel about how "The funeral industry has been ripping people off for—"!

The only quasi-exception to that is when I specifically look for a thing that I already know I want. But that's stretching the meaning of "ad" to include things like a company's own web site, or a shopping site like Amazon. I only see such sites when I specifically go there. They do not come to me, interposing themselves between me and what I want to do.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Sexual Dimorphism in Yudkowsky's Sequences, in Relation to My Gender Problems · 2021-05-03T13:20:31.234Z · LW · GW

It read [to] me more about being conflicted over being binarist vs non-binarist.

You binarist, you!

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Can you improve IQ by practicing IQ tests? · 2021-04-28T09:46:51.778Z · LW · GW

A and B are only different if "motivation" is not an innate factor. But what else would it be? Is it even an actual thing, or just a name for a phenomenon, masquerading as an explanation of the phenomenon?

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on [Lecture Club] Awakening from the Meaning Crisis · 2021-04-21T19:14:26.470Z · LW · GW

If I edited it, I'm not sure there would be anything left. :)

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on [Lecture Club] Awakening from the Meaning Crisis · 2021-04-21T14:08:22.988Z · LW · GW

I cannot distinguish this from GPT-3. Is it just me?

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on What weird beliefs do you have? · 2021-04-14T12:38:32.866Z · LW · GW

Untangling the multiple negatives, this says that there is at most a 1% chance that the administration had foreknowledge or involvement. Is that what you intended?

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Open and Welcome Thread - April 2021 · 2021-04-13T06:07:13.161Z · LW · GW

Now spoilered.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Open and Welcome Thread - April 2021 · 2021-04-12T22:03:23.540Z · LW · GW

Added (reversed).

Extra text added to prevent the spoilered text from showing up when this comment is shown cut short in preview mode.



And a few others. There are now 127 Insanity Wolf memes there, and one Sean Bean.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Rationalism before the Sequences · 2021-04-07T09:24:24.921Z · LW · GW

Tl;dr for last two comments:

  1. Know your limits.
  2. Expand your limits.
Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Open and Welcome Thread - April 2021 · 2021-04-04T23:08:19.376Z · LW · GW

I have been having some thoughts on supererogation (that there are morally praiseworthy actions that are not morally obligatory) and scrupulosity (a dysfunctional obsession with doing good), but not to any conclusion. In the course of it I was inspired to make a few memes. Here is The Insanity Wolf Sanity Check. Take the content warning at the top seriously. There is some strong stuff here.

It is a page of anti-advice, rahom, as one would call it in Láadan, in sections relating to EA, morality, AGI, and a few other topics. The device of placing these in the mouth of Insanity Wolf is inspired by Eliezer's Cognitive Trope Therapy.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Rationalism before the Sequences · 2021-03-30T16:02:54.823Z · LW · GW

Thank you for writing this. Having read both your writings and Eliezer's, and many of the books listed, the story is as I expected it to be, but it is good to see the history laid out.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Raemon's Shortform · 2021-03-27T14:36:30.165Z · LW · GW

Kegan levels lend themselves to being used like one of those irregular verbs, like "I am strong minded, you are stubborn, he is a pig-headed fool."

"I am Kegan level 5, you are stuck on Kegan level 4, and all those dreadful normies and muggles around us are Kegan 3 or worse."

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Clubhouse · 2021-03-16T08:53:47.502Z · LW · GW

Is there any limit on the number of invites a member can give out?

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Dark Matters · 2021-03-15T09:26:16.818Z · LW · GW

What we all want to know, of course, is whether Ludwig's recent paper (which treats only the galactic rotation curve) stands up.

Note that he is not proposing a new theory, only applying standard GR, and claiming to do so correctly for the first time.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on What is the low hanging fruit of things we could be doing to improve society? · 2021-03-12T15:38:59.293Z · LW · GW

The real question isn't about kidneys though: what happens when autonomous driving becomes widespread? Our supply of organs will effectively dry up.

Have autonomous vehicles crash at a rate adjusted to meet the demand for transplants.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Care and demandingness · 2021-03-09T15:33:27.265Z · LW · GW

A full discussion of the many reasons not to grab the nearest, very demanding idea that currently seems compelling to you, and to make extreme sacrifices for its sake, is beyond the scope of this post.

I would like to read such a post. I've never seen a philosopher make a serious effort to argue against totalitarian ethics.

My own response is to ignore anything that sounds like Insanity Wolf, but that isn't an argument.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on [Lecture Club] Awakening from the Meaning Crisis · 2021-03-08T18:42:14.043Z · LW · GW

I've watched some of Vervaeke's lectures, but they just seem to go on and on without ever reaching whatever his goal is. Likewise Jordan Peterson. Having just read through Valentine's document (mainly the lecture summaries, rather than the detailed notes), I am still disappointed. Vervaeke just breaks off at the end, just as it seemed it might get interesting. It goes to lecture 26, the last of which suggests there are more to come. I look forward to summaries of them, but more with hope than with expectation.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Sleep math: red clay blue clay · 2021-03-08T14:36:35.433Z · LW · GW

100(1-1/e) = 63.2°

Feed the red clay past the blue clay a little at a time.

Do you know Lewis Carroll's Pillow Problems?

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Multimodal Neurons in Artificial Neural Networks · 2021-03-05T10:05:05.506Z · LW · GW

They also document the fact that the multimodality allows for "typographic attacks", where labeling an item with a particular text causes the network to misclassify the item as an instance of the text.

"These are not the droids you are looking for."

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Tap Water and Filtration · 2021-03-03T14:19:52.742Z · LW · GW

I think the main difference between UK and US hot water systems is the pressure. They both involve pre-heating a tank. In the UK it's common for the hot water tank to be at atmospheric pressure, so the pressure at your hot taps is from the height of the tank above them. In the US, the hot water system is more usually sealed and at mains pressure.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on A whirlwind tour of Ethereum finance · 2021-03-02T17:57:41.707Z · LW · GW
Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Why aren't we all using Taffix? · 2021-03-02T14:08:48.623Z · LW · GW

I notice that Taffix is no longer available on Amazon co uk. It's still available on eBay co uk for around twice what it was on Amazon.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Open & Welcome Thread – February 2021 · 2021-02-28T10:08:25.382Z · LW · GW

Possibly this one?

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Why aren't we all using Taffix? · 2021-02-27T11:20:16.918Z · LW · GW

As far as I can make out from internet browsing, the ingredient that does the work is hypromellose (short for hydroxypropyl methylcellulose). It's a cellulose compound whose powder, in humid conditions, takes up water and turns into a gel. This gel on the inside of your nose forms a barrier against infection.

I am not a chemist, pharmacist, or doctor, but here are my best guesses for the functions of the other ingredients. Benzalkonium chloride is a surfactant, which might help the hypro form a gel layer, and also an antimicrobial agent. I do not know if it would affect viruses. Citric acid + sodium citrate might be a buffer against pH changes. Or perhaps an anti-caking agent. I would guess that the menthol is to give a pleasant sensation, and so you can "feel it working".

Being in the UK I can order Taffix from Amazon co uk, though I'm not sure I will, as there appears to be a far cheaper product that does the same thing. That is "Nasaleze Cold & Flu Blocker", which is also mainly hypromellose. Another hypromellose product is "Vicks First Defence Nasal Spray". Those products make no mention of Covid, so it's possible that the Very Serious People have not yet noticed that they should be stopping people from buying them. There is also "Nasaleze Travel – Germ and Virus Prevention", but I can't see how it differs from the other Nasaleze. Same price, same ingredients.

Prices: As of today, Taffix is £51.99 for 1000mg. Nasaleze Cold & Flu Blocker is £8.95 for 800mg, less than a quarter the price of Taffix. The Vicks is a liquid, not a powder, but the price is £6 for 15ml of 1% hypro = 150mg, more than three times the cost of Nasaleze. Given that these are all basically the same thing, it looks like what you're paying extra for with Taffix is the field-testing against Covid. As for how many doses these represent, the Nasaleze says that the 800mg bottle is 30 days supply, but that would depend on how often you use it.

Obviously, these only protect against infection through the nasal tissues, and do not affect the result of breathing viruses into the lungs. I have not seen any information about which route is more important.

I have ordered the Nasaleze; it should arrive tomorrow.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on How can I protect my bank account from large, surprise withdrawals? · 2021-02-23T20:58:10.635Z · LW · GW

That depends on your deal. My roaming arrangement is capped at so many GB per week. If it looks like I'll need more, I buy more as I need it. No bad surprises.

No bad surprises. A principle not only for money, but for life.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on What's your best alternate history utopia? · 2021-02-23T12:02:01.453Z · LW · GW

The ancient Greeks also had sailing ships, metallurgy, and even steam engines of a sort.

More generally, one can always look at the past and find reasons for how things were. That does not demonstrate that they could not have been otherwise. One can also look at the present and find reasons for how things are. But there have always been those who have seen how things might be different, and made them happen.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on How can I protect my bank account from large, surprise withdrawals? · 2021-02-22T19:32:19.828Z · LW · GW

This is why I only use automatic charging for things where I can reliably know the general magnitude in advance.

Automatic: subscriptions (to magazines, software, Patreons, etc.), my mobile phone (for which the flat rate usually covers my entire usage), my ISP (another flat rate).

They bill me then I pay them: utility bills, credit cards.

I don't find it an inconvenience to make the manual payments. On the contrary, it is helpful to me to have this regular contact with what I am spending.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Open & Welcome Thread – February 2021 · 2021-02-22T11:56:13.517Z · LW · GW

A rock. A question. A command. A mistake. A dream. "2+2=4" spoken by a zombie. The output of GPT-3. Simulacrum level 4. The fit of water to a puddle. The peacock's tail.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on What's your best alternate history utopia? · 2021-02-22T09:40:28.177Z · LW · GW

One Eliezer, a member of an obscure tribe in the Middle East, found himself dissatisfied with all religion, and especially that of his own people. He pondered deeply over the question of how to attain real knowledge of the world, and wandered through many countries observing how such things proceeded there. Eventually, having arrived at tried and tested conclusions about what methods systematically lead towards truth, he fetched up in ancient Greece in the time of the great philosophers. Here, it seemed, there might be some few people capable of understanding what he had discovered. He was successful in persuading them to take seriously the idea of working with their own hands to experiment and observe, to "entangle themselves with the world", and got SCIENCE!! started two thousand years earlier.

According to Plutarch in "The Obsolescence of Oracles", when Eliezer visited the oracle at Delphi it prophesied, "HE IS HERE. THE ONE WHO WILL TEAR APART THE VERY STARS IN HEAVEN. HE IS HERE. HE IS THE END OF THE WORLD." The oracle never spoke again.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Notes on Amiability · 2021-02-16T09:21:28.620Z · LW · GW

Which makes this an asymmetric strategy. It can only work on people who don't use it. I imagine one might get a feeling of smug superiority over the less enlightened person who swallows the bait without noticing — "ha, what fools these dullards be!" — but this is more smarm than amiability.

The most famous source of the advice to get the other person to talk about themselves is "How to Make Friends and Influence People". It was written by a salesman, translating his sales technique into everyday life. A salesman is always in an asymmetric relationship with his prospective customers. He is trying to sell them something. But if you never speak of yourself, what are you selling? It's clear what you're buying with your attention: information about the other person.

Rather like Facebook.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Notes on Amiability · 2021-02-15T20:38:07.385Z · LW · GW

Become a brilliant conversationalist by letting them talk

What happens when both people try to do this?

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Were the Great Tragedies of History “Mere Ripples”? · 2021-02-15T12:41:17.340Z · LW · GW

You seem to be using "intuition" as a way to avoid discussion. Just go up a meta-level and bark "you just used intuition!" at your interlocutor. No further discussion is possible along this path.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Were the Great Tragedies of History “Mere Ripples”? · 2021-02-14T10:21:08.464Z · LW · GW

How do you value things? If solely by intuition, what do you do when intuitions conflict with each other?

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Were the Great Tragedies of History “Mere Ripples”? · 2021-02-12T19:16:16.687Z · LW · GW

Your quarrel seems to be with the very idea of valuing things. You're welcome to take that view, but then this entire area of discourse must be a closed book to you. Why respond specifically to my pointing out that Torres does not address the transhumanists' arguments, but only denies their conclusions?

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Were the Great Tragedies of History “Mere Ripples”? · 2021-02-12T15:39:26.483Z · LW · GW

What is this intuition by which you would judge the competing claims of Bostrom and Torres, but a "way of measuring moral worth"?

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Were the Great Tragedies of History “Mere Ripples”? · 2021-02-10T17:54:25.828Z · LW · GW

I'm not sure anyone will see this, given the OP now stands at -15 (not that I have any objection to that). But I think the accusation of straw-manning is not accurate. In this paper, which is referenced in the OP, Bostrom estimates:

Advancing technology (or its enabling factors, such as economic productivity) even by such a tiny amount that it leads to colonization of the local supercluster just one second earlier than would otherwise have happened amounts to bringing about more than 10^29 human lives (or 10^14 human lives if we use the most conservative lower bound) that would not otherwise have existed.

Or as Insanity Wolf might put it:

Insanity Wolf says: "Delayed one second in doing good? You just killed 100 octillion babies"

(I always hear the larger claims of EA, Utilitarianism, and Transhumanism in the voice of Insanity Wolf.)

However, the OP does not really make any arguments against Bostrom. He denies the conclusions but does not follow that back through the argument to the premises and say why he rejects either the validity of the argument or the truth of the premises.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on On the nature of purpose · 2021-02-10T17:22:13.414Z · LW · GW

I would map "homeostasis" onto "control system", but maybe that's just a terminological preference.

The internal experience of purpose is a special case of internal experience, explaining which is the Hard Problem of Consciousness, which no-one has a solution for. I don't see a reason to deny this sort of purpose to animals, except to the extent that one would deny all conscious experience to them. I am quite willing to believe that (for example) cats, dogs, and primates have a level of consciousness that includes purpose.

The evolutionary explanation does not make any predictions. It looks at what is, says "it was selected for", and confabulates a story about its usefulness. Why do we have five fingers? Because every other number was selected against. Why were they selected against? Because they were less useful. How were they less useful? They must have been, because they were selected against. Even if some content were put into that, it still would not explain the thing that was to be explained: what is purpose? It is like answering the question "how does a car work?" by expatiating upon how useful cars are.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Against butterfly effect · 2021-02-09T18:46:38.316Z · LW · GW

The butterfly thing was never more than a slogan, and a misleading one.

The real story about tornadoes in six months time is that if you compute God's Deterministic Will backwards from 1 July, then the part of the state space described by "tornado in Texas" has been smeared out and folded over so much by the time you get back to 1 January, that there is no human-possible measurement that can separate that part of the state space from the rest. In particular, there will be no butterfly-flapping event to attribute the tornado to, in the sense that the tornado shows up if and only if the butterfly flaps.

Similarly, if you take the part of the state space on 1 January described by "this butterfly in Brazil flaps its wings" and project that forwards, it will be so smeared out and folded over as to overlap all the tornado and non-tornado events on 1 July.

It especially does not mean that you can set out to produce a tornado by provoking a butterfly somewhere to flap its wings.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on On the nature of purpose · 2021-02-07T18:53:00.854Z · LW · GW

One simple answer to the question "what is purpose?" is "the reference input of a control system".

On this view, a thermostat acts purposively to maintain a room, a fridge, a shower, etc. at a constant temperature. It senses the actual temperature and adjusts it as necessary to keep it close to the reference temperature. Of course, it is the designer's purpose that the thermostat should do that, but once the thermostat has been made and installed, the purpose is physically present in the thermostat.

This concept does not occur at all in the letter exchange.

Consider what a person does when they act on a purpose. Some part of the world is not as they want it to be, and they act to bring it to such a state. That is what purpose is: to intend a state of affairs, and act to achieve it.

There is a wider sense of the word "purpose", where it is considered as a property of things. Maybe Dennett and Rosenberg are talking about that sense? The sense in which we can ask, "what is the purpose of this rock?", and if it's just some random rock lying somewhere, the answer would be "none". And for the question, "what is the purpose of an animal's heart?", the answer would be "to pump blood around its body." The difference between the two once again involves control systems. The heart is part of a control system. It is the actuator that will be made to beat faster and stronger, or slower and weaker, to meet the demand of the rest of the body for oxygen. A random rock is not part of any control system.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Massive consequences · 2021-02-07T18:27:39.181Z · LW · GW

Have you seen "Convergence of expected utilities with algorithmic probability distributions", by Peter de Blanc? Under certain conditions, he proves that all expected utility calculations diverge.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on How likely is it that SARS-CoV-2 originated in a laboratory? · 2021-01-26T21:36:38.749Z · LW · GW

Viruses are known to sometimes jump from one species to another, so what is different about how they are encouraged to do so in a lab? Are they doing anything but forcing it to happen faster?

I am not a biologist and this is wild speculation, but I wonder if, when you force pathogens to pass from one host species to another to another to another, are you selecting them not just for making each individual jump, but for being able to jump from any species to any other more easily? You would then end up with a meta-infective virus able to mutate fast enough to spread through the whole animal kingdom and outpace any attempts at vaccination.