Posts

Who lacks the qualia of consciousness? 2019-10-05T19:49:52.432Z · score: 27 (17 votes)
Storytelling and the evolution of human intelligence 2019-06-13T20:13:03.547Z · score: 17 (7 votes)

Comments

Comment by richard_kennaway on Reason and Intuition in science · 2020-02-26T10:24:01.244Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

So was Unknown128's post just an attempt to smear that person's name by association with the Nazi screed he quoted from?

Comment by richard_kennaway on How does electricity work literally? · 2020-02-25T13:54:06.440Z · score: 1 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The problem is that you currently lack so much information about the things you are asking about, that no short explanation is possible. The atomic constitution of matter, electromagnetism, electrical engineering. Even to just a high school level, that is a lot of ground to cover. No-one can pour a few paragraphs into your head that will give you all that knowledge.

Comment by richard_kennaway on A Simple Introduction to Neural Networks · 2020-02-11T17:05:23.359Z · score: 9 (3 votes) · LW · GW

One reason for using squared errors, which may be good or bad depending on the context, is that it's usually easier to Do Mathematics on it.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Some quick notes on hand hygiene · 2020-02-06T11:06:44.399Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · LW · GW
when you flush, you create a fine mist of very-much-not-clean toilet water that covers everything in the bathroom, including your hands.

This is why I always close the lid, if there is one, before flushing.

Comment by richard_kennaway on "Memento Mori", Said The Confessor · 2020-02-03T16:31:51.926Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This is the same 6500-word essay linked in the OP. It might be helpful to note that (I think) the relevant part is the very last two paragraphs. And you say there that you are not sure what Becker meant by practicing dying. The concrete method you describe is:

I'll lay down in bed and imagine that I'm about to die in the next 5-15 minutes. ... When I first started doing this I found it very distressing, but over time I've gotten a lot more capable at soberly considering the end of my existence.

Ok, I imagined it. I shrug.

Comment by richard_kennaway on "Memento Mori", Said The Confessor · 2020-02-03T16:26:37.216Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I would prefer to not die, and most ways of dying range from unpleasant to dreadful, besides the fact that they end with death. I have had a narrow brush with one of those, and seen it happen to a few other people, and of course I know that it happens to everyone. That pretty much covers my attitude to death and dying. But I get the impression that this is not what you or Ernest Becker mean by "fear of death". Do you mean something more than this?

Comment by richard_kennaway on Technology Changes Constraints · 2020-01-27T14:58:07.041Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Composing Chinese with moveable type is still slower, because you need at least a thousand, maybe several thousand, different characters. Just physically selecting them is time-consuming. Back in the days of mechanical typewriters, attempts were made to design typewriters for Chinese and Japanese, but using them was no faster than writing by hand. A skilled typist on an alphabetic typewriter can go much faster.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Underappreciated points about utility functions (of both sorts) · 2020-01-16T22:13:02.598Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW
I already said that I think that thinking in terms of infinitary convex combinations, as you're doing, is the wrong way to go about it; but it took me a bit to put together why that's definitely the wrong way.
Specifically, it assumes probability! Fishburn, in the paper you link, assumes probability, which is why he's able to talk about why infinitary convex combinations are or are not allowed (I mean, that and the fact that he's not necessarily arbitrary actions).
Savage doesn't assume probability!

Savage doesn't assume probability or utility, but their construction is a mathematical consequence of the axioms. So although they come later in the exposition, they mathematically exist as soon as the axioms have been stated.

So if you want to disallow certain actions... how do you specify them?

I am still thinking about that, and may be some time.

As a general outline of the situation, you read P1-7 => bounded utility as modus ponens: you accept the axioms and therefore accept the conclusion. I read it as modus tollens: the conclusion seems wrong, so I believe there is a flaw in the axioms. In the same way, the axioms of Euclidean geometry seemed very plausible as a description of the physical space we find ourselves in, but conflicts emerged with phenomena of electromagnetism and gravity, and eventually they were superseded as descriptions of physical space by the geometry of differential manifolds.

It isn't possible to answer the question "which of P1-7 would I reject?" What is needed to block the proof of bounded utility is a new set of axioms, which will no doubt imply large parts of P1-7, but might not imply the whole of any one of them. If and when such a set of axioms can be found, P1-7 can be re-examined in their light.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Repossessing Degrees · 2020-01-15T13:32:38.960Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The paper is not the degree. It is a certificate of having the degree. The degree is the fact of having had the degree conferred. This is an objective historical fact that cannot be repossessed, short of 1984 with its memory holes and workers keeping records updated to agree with currently decreed official truth (that is, official lies). Even if the university is obliged to rescind the conferral, that merely adds another historical fact to the record. If an employer regards the recission as a penalty for defaulting on a student loan, they are free to take that as evidence of the student's financial standing but disregard it as evidence against their academic record.

Comment by richard_kennaway on What are beliefs you wouldn't want (or would feel apprehensive about being) public if you had (or have) them? · 2020-01-15T13:22:48.837Z · score: 11 (8 votes) · LW · GW

"My password to ... is ..."

Comment by richard_kennaway on What plausible beliefs do you think could likely get someone diagnosed with a mental illness by a psychiatrist? · 2020-01-15T12:34:49.193Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Is this the personal or impersonal "you"?

Comment by richard_kennaway on Moral uncertainty: What kind of 'should' is involved? · 2020-01-14T11:47:56.701Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW
Instead, it's basically "Moral uncertainty is uncertainty about moral matters", which then has to be accompanied with a range of examples and counterexamples of the sort of thing we mean by that.

What need is there for a definition of "moral uncertainty"? Empirical uncertainty is uncertainty about empirical matters. Logical uncertainty is uncertainty about logical matters. Moral uncertainty is uncertainty about moral matters. These phrases mean these things in the same way that "red car" means a car that is red, and does not need a definition.

If one does not believe there are objective moral truths, then "Moral uncertainty is uncertainty about moral matters" might feel problematic. The problem lies not in "uncertainty" but in "moral matters". But that is an issue you have postponed.

Comment by richard_kennaway on How to Identify an Immoral Maze · 2020-01-13T16:20:57.173Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · LW · GW

How does this work in the military? They have a very deep hierarchy: is life in the army above private and below commander-in-chief also a maze?

Comment by richard_kennaway on How has the cost of clothing insulation changed since 1970 in the USA? · 2020-01-13T09:55:41.496Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The link is 451 for me: "Unavailable due to legal reasons". The specifics:

We recognize you are attempting to access this website from a country belonging to the European Economic Area (EEA) including the EU which enforces the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and therefore access cannot be granted at this time. For any issues, contact circdept@times-news.com or call (301) 722-4600.

Prima facie that looks like bullshit, but recognising that doesn't get me the web page. Time I looked into a VPN account. Any suggestions?

BTW, mousing over the same link on your web page gives me a popup saying "Too many requests", which none of the others do. What's up there?

Comment by richard_kennaway on Underappreciated points about utility functions (of both sorts) · 2020-01-09T09:04:11.008Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW
Again, I'm simply not seeing this in the paper you linked? As I said above, I simply do not see anything like that outside of section 9, which is irrelevant. Can you point to where you're seeing this condition?

In Fishburn's "Bounded Expected Utility", page 1055, end of first paragraph (as cited previously):

However, we shall for the present take (for any -algebra that contains each ) since this is the Blackwell-Girshick setting. Not only is an abstract convex set, but also if and for and , then .

That depends on some earlier definitions, e.g. is a certain set of probability distributions (the “d” stands for “discrete”) defined with reference to some particular -algebra, but the important part is that last infinite sum: this is where all infinitary convex combinations are asserted to exist. Whether that is assigned to "background setup" or "axioms" does not matter. It has to be present, to allow the construction of St. Petersburg gambles.

Will address the rest of your comments later.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Underappreciated points about utility functions (of both sorts) · 2020-01-08T16:54:58.395Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

A further short answer. In Savage's formulation, from P1-P6 he derives Theorem 4 of section 2 of chapter 5 of his book, which is linear interpolation in any interval. Clearly, linear interpolation does not work on an interval such as [17,Inf], therefore there cannot be any infinitely valuable gambles. St. Petersburg-type gambles are therefore excluded from his formulation.

Savage does not actually prove bounded utility. Fishburn did this later, as Savage footnotes in the edition I'm looking at, so Fishburn must be tackled. Theorem 14.5 of Fishburn's book derives bounded utility from Savage's P1-P7. His proof seems to construct a St. Petersburg gamble from the supposition of unbounded utility, deriving a contradiction. I shall have to examine further how his construction works, to discern what in Savage's axioms allows the construction, when P1-P6 have already excluded infinitely valuable gambles.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Underappreciated points about utility functions (of both sorts) · 2020-01-08T16:12:07.109Z · score: 11 (2 votes) · LW · GW
Or if you have some formalism where preferences can be undefined (in a way that is distinct from indifference), by all means explain it... (but what happens when you program these preferences into an FAI and it encounters this situation? It has to pick. Does it pick arbitrarily? How is that distinct from indifference?)

A short answer to this (something longer later) is that an agent need not have preferences between things that it is impossible to encounter. The standard dissolution of the St. Petersberg paradox is that nobody can offer that gamble. Even though each possible outcome is finite, the offerer must be able to cover every possible outcome, requiring that they have infinite resources.

Since the gamble cannot be offered, no preferences between that gamble and any other need exist. If your axioms require both that preference must be total and that St. Petersburg gambles exist, I would say that that is a flaw in the axioms. Fishburn (op. cit., following Blackwell and Girschick, an inaccessible source) requires that the set of gambles be closed under infinitary convex combinations. I shall take a look at Savage's axioms and see what in them is responsible for the same thing.

Looking at the argument from the other end, at what point in valuing numbers of intelligent lives does one approach an asymptote, bearing in mind the possibility of expansion to the accessible universe? What if we discover that the habitable universe is vastly larger than we currently believe? How would one discover the limits, if there are any, to one's valuing?

Comment by richard_kennaway on Circling as Cousin to Rationality · 2020-01-05T22:06:27.952Z · score: 19 (5 votes) · LW · GW
"I feel alone" isn't a statement of something being a failure. It's just a statement about the current emotional state.

Perhaps this is a tangent to the discussion, but "I feel alone" is not a statement about an emotional state. It is a confused statement that on the surface appears to be about emotions ("I feel...") but the thing that follows those first two words is not an emotion, but a claim about the world: "(I am) alone."

"I feel sad" is a description of an emotional state. "I feel sad about..." or "I feel sad that.." are descriptions of emotional states, together with, but separate from, a statement of a belief about the world. "I feel alone" and similar phrases, such as the general pattern "I feel that...", confuse feelings with beliefs.

Every statement of the form "I feel that..." is false, because what follows the "that" is a belief about the world, not a feeling. Acknowledging it as a belief makes it possible to consider "Is this belief true? Why do I believe it is true?" Miscalling it a feeling protects it from testing against reality: "How can you question my FEELINGS?"

Comment by richard_kennaway on Underappreciated points about utility functions (of both sorts) · 2020-01-04T15:51:07.818Z · score: 7 (3 votes) · LW · GW
But, to put it simply, if your ethical assumptions contradict the mathematics, it's not the mathematics that's wrong.

The mathematics includes axioms, and axioms certainly can be wrong. That is, they can be false of the things in the real world that they were invented in order to describe. As Einstein said, "As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality."

I haven't studied the proof of boundedness in detail, but it seems to be that unbounded utilities allow St. Petersburg-type combinations of them with infinite utilities, but since each thing is supposed to have finite utility, that is a contradiction. Or if infinite utilities are not immediately a problem, then by a more complicated argument, involving constructing multiple St. Petersburg-type combinations and demonstrating that the axioms imply that there both should and should not be a preference between them.

I believe that the first of those arguments is what Fishburn is alluding to in his paper "Bounded Expected Utility" (paywalled, also sci-hubbed) when he says that it is "easily seen to be bounded" (1st paragraph of section 4, p.1055). (Fishburn's book is rather too dense to speed-read all the way to his boundedness theorems.) He does not give details, but the argument that I conjecture from his text is that if there are unbounded utilities then one can construct a convex combination of infinitely many of them that has infinite utility (and indeed one can), contradicting the proof from his axioms that the utility function is a total function to the real numbers.

But by a similar argument, one might establish that the real numbers must be bounded, when instead one actually concludes that not all series converge and that one cannot meaningfully compare the magnitudes of divergent infinite series. Inf–Inf = NaN, as IEEE 754 puts it. All it takes is sufficient art in constructing the axioms to make them seem individually plausible while concealing the contradiction that will be sprung.

Individually plausible axioms do not necessarily have a plausible union.

I note that in order to construct convex combinations of infinitely many states, Fishburn extends his axiom 0 to allow this. He does not label this extension separately as e.g. "Axiom 0*". So if you were to ask which of his axioms to reject in order to retain unbounded utility, it could be none of those labelled as such, but the one that he does not name, at the end of the first paragraph on p.1055. Notice that the real numbers satisfy Axiom 0 but not Axiom 0*. It is that requirement that all infinite convex combinations exist that surfaces later as the boundedness of the range of the utility function.

While searching out the original sources, I found a paper indicating that at least in 1993, bounded utility theorems were seen as indicating a problem with Savage's axioms: "Unbounded utility for Savage's "Foundations of Statistics" and Other Models", by Peter Wakker. There is another such paper from 2014. I haven't read them, but they indicate that proofs of boundedness of utility are seen as problems for the axioms, not discoveries that utility must be bounded.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Don't Double-Crux With Suicide Rock · 2020-01-03T23:13:19.494Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The title of Aumann's paper is just a pithy slogan. What the slogan means as the title of his paper is the actual mathematical result that he proves. This is that if two agents have the same priors, but have made different observations, then if they share only their posteriors, and each properly updates on the other's posterior, and repeat, then they will approach agreement without ever having to share the observations themselves. In other papers there are theorems placing practical bounds on the number of iterations required.

In actual human interaction, there is a large number of ways in which disagreements among us may fall outside the scope of this theorem. Inaccuracy of observation. All the imperfections of rationality that may lead us to process observations incorrectly. Non-common priors. Inability to articulate numerical priors. Inability to articulate our observations in numerical terms. The effort required may exceed our need for a resolution. Lack of good faith. Lack of common knowledge of our good faith.

Notice that these are all imperfections. The mathematical ideal remains. How to act in accordance with the eternal truths of mathematical theorems when we lack the means to satisfy their hypotheses is the theme of a large part of the Sequences.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Don't Double-Crux With Suicide Rock · 2020-01-03T22:42:44.271Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This is what FAQs are for. On LW, The Sequences are our FAQ.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Dominic Cummings: "we’re hiring data scientists, project managers, policy experts, assorted weirdos" · 2020-01-03T09:55:00.087Z · score: 2 (8 votes) · LW · GW

From the full text:

I don’t want confident public school bluffers.

*cough* Boris Johnson *cough*. But if that's what you have to work with...

Comment by richard_kennaway on Meta-discussion from "Circling as Cousin to Rationality" · 2020-01-01T15:49:28.232Z · score: 8 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I looked for definitions of the word "authentic", but that only turned up synonyms like "genuine", and the meaning it has in speaking of the authenticity of an antique (i.e. it is what someone is selling it as).

So I searched for /authentic relationships/, which turned up a whole world of fluff and reversible advice.

About the least fluffy but informative thing in the first page of Google results was this. But I am not sure there is any more to this than in a horoscope. Can those who know what they mean by "authenticity" rate that description of it?

If I pick up a mathematics textbook and leaf through it, I can easily determine where I and it are relative to each other on the map of mathematical knowledge. I will know if I'm already familiar with what it covers, or am slightly acquainted, or would have to do a lot of other study to get to where it starts from. But with the cited link and all the others, I cannot really tell. And it is the same with descriptions of Circling.

BTW, something which puts me off "Circling" is the name. It suggests to me the image of a pack of wolves circling their prey. Or "self-criticism sessions" in the Cultural Revolution. Especially so with "Birthday Circling", where one member of the group gets circled by all the others.

BTW2, the least fluffy but uninformative things were these:

"Authenticity in business relationships is more than a trend, it is increasingly becoming a requirement for those who want to succeed BIG in today’s business world."

“I had no idea that being your authentic self could make me as rich as I’ve become. If I had, I’d have done it a lot earlier.” Oprah Winfrey (unsourced)

Comment by richard_kennaway on 100 Ways To Live Better · 2019-12-31T22:14:28.308Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Re #26: Cox's Orange Pippin. Other cultivars are to be sampled only to remind you why Cox's are the king of apples.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Meditation Retreat: Immoral Mazes Sequence Introduction · 2019-12-28T08:46:40.947Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'd be interested in the background to your signing up for the retreat. Why did you go, and how did it come about? (But this is a smaller priority than the other work you listed to do imminently.)

Comment by richard_kennaway on What spiritual experiences have you had? · 2019-12-27T20:19:15.179Z · score: 7 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Alas, no-one can see another's experiences, nor show them their own. All I can see is the words that they use, and "oneness with everything", "the presence of the divine", and "self falling away" are not words that I would use to describe any of my own experiences. Neither do any of my experiences seem to be the sort of thing that the OP asks for, but I thought it worth while adding the data point.

Comment by richard_kennaway on What spiritual experiences have you had? · 2019-12-27T14:22:18.525Z · score: 15 (5 votes) · LW · GW

None. Not just "none that I would be willing to talk about in public", but no "spiritual" experiences at all.

The scare quotes are because I do not know what people are intending to point to when they use the expression, or elaborate upon it. Whatever they are pointing to within themselves, when I take hold of the words that they use, they do not point to anything within me.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Reason and Intuition in science · 2019-12-21T01:06:01.103Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW
I am introducing this position because its an attack on rationalism hence me asking Rationalists what they thought about it. It seems you Rationalists are unimpressed.

Which, intuitionist mathematics or the screed by Nynznevh (translate using rot13.com) who has a BA in mathematics? To the extent that they have anything to do with each other at all, they are pretty much opposite things, and for different reasons neither of them impress me.

Intuitionist mathematics sought to curb what Brouwer saw as the excesses of reason by putting up a fence limiting reason only to such methods as could be justified by (Brouwer's) intuition.

Romanticism sees reason as a fence curbing intuition, a fence that must be destroyed to allow free rein to the passions that are hobbled by civilisation, that the strong may exult in their strength, rule over the weak, and "purify the world of refuse".

But what do you think? You have quoted this and mentioned that, but not once ventured to express a view of your own. Put up or be dismissed as a troll.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Reason and Intuition in science · 2019-12-20T15:50:21.825Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Intuitionism (mathematics) has nothing to do with fascist romanticism.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Reason and Intuition in science · 2019-12-20T15:09:23.725Z · score: 9 (5 votes) · LW · GW

The remedy for ignorance is searching for knowledge, not modestly swallowing anything anyone with a degree or two and "a father who works at MIT" tells you. And who is Michael Antons? As far as I can see, just another member of the alt-right, prominent mainly for an essay "The Flight 93 Election" (referring to the election that elected Trump, during the run-up to it). Whatever one thinks of Antons, there is nothing in that essay resembling the drunken ravings of Pbfgva Iynq Nynznevh (translate using rot13.com) who has a BA in Mathematics.

The flirt with rationalism some of the right had a few years ago with NrX seems to be mostly over and now is the age of the likes of Pbfgvaf (translate using rot13.com).

This is a rationalist forum, so why introduce the likes of the irrationalist Pbfgvaf (translate using rot13.com) who has a BA in Mathematics? What is there in his wannabe Hitler shtick that should even raise him to our attention?

The concept of "concern trolling" is raised to my attention right now, even if you are not Pbfgvaf (translate using rot13.com) (who has a BA in Mathematics) himself.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Reason and Intuition in science · 2019-12-20T11:42:55.400Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

"Intuition" is just a name for the ideas and beliefs we arrive at without being able to articulate why. They're all around us, not just in deep mathematics, but in trivial matters, like how I know I'm sitting in a chair right now. (If we could articulate things like that, we would already have humanoid robot servants that could take care of all the housekeeping.)

Intuitions can as easily be right as wrong, in fact more easily wrong than right, for truth is a small target. Look at all the stuff that here we would generally dismiss as "woo": astrology, alternative medicine, chakras, etc. Pretty much all writings about these are based on no more than intuition. "Here's a flower that looks like an eye -- it must be good for treating eye diseases!"

To have right intuitions rather than wrong ones, then just as for explicit reasoning, one must have been entangled with the world in order to obtain those right intuitions. They will not happen by chance, by the raw animal spirit in a state of religious intoxication that Pbfgva Iynq Nynznevh (translate using rot13.com) (who has a BA in Mathematics) valorises. Even if we do not know the process by which, for example, we learn to ride a bicycle, there must be such a process. You don't get to have the insight of a Gauss without having laboured long and hard over mathematics.

Neither do you get to be the Beatles without working at your craft, practicing and practicing while your age peers are out partying every night and lazing in in the morning. You don't get to be the Beatles, or anything else of note, without putting in the work.

BTW, logic has moved on a long way from "syllogisms", which is now a significant concept only in the history of logic, no longer in logic. I guess Pbfgva Iynq Nynznevh'f (translate using rot13.com) "BA in mathematics" did not include any courses on mathematical logic.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Reason and Intuition in science · 2019-12-20T11:07:52.619Z · score: 10 (6 votes) · LW · GW

A commonplace submerged in a bucket of Nietzschean romanticism. The quote is from a book, "Bronze Age Mindset: An Exhortation" by one "Bronze Age Pervert", presumably this Pbfgva Iynq Nynznevh (translate using rot13.com) "who has a BA in Mathematics". (I must wonder if this is the same person as Unknown128. ETA: judging by Unknown128's writing style in the comment he has just posted, this no longer seems likely. My apologies for identifying you as someone who is all-but-literally Hitler.)

The book can be found by searching the net for phrases taken from later in the quoted text. (Many sites have this quote or part of it, but only a few have the whole work.) Due to both the content of the work and the sort of site where it is being hosted, I will not give links and will not forward a copy. One site where I found it displayed porn popups. Another professed itself to be a place for hosting weird stuff for the lolz, and from what I briefly saw, I would not care to spend any time there.

The PDF I found is not internally searchable (though paradoxically, was Googleable) and the pages are not numbered, but the passage is in section 22 on the 25th page.

To give an idea of what sort of work this is, here are a few more quotes. Ellipses are mine, for brevity, as the PDF does not support copying. [ETA: I was using OSX Preview, which reads most PDFs, but has limitations. Adobe Acrobat Reader is able to search and copy the text.]

Near end of Prologue:

In the Bronze Age men had life and force, and I already see ... this spirit returning surely in our time. ... May they inhabit us again and give us strength to purify this world of refuse!

Sections 1 and 2:

You had in years before Trump, the fat bald gluttons of the Right put in a fighting ring against the Janet Renos, the womyn with pickup trucks, the thin-lipped transnumales of the Left. ...
Group of horses in broad plain, and the lead stallion is captured by a wild spirit, starts to gallop this way and that, and the whole herd follows in a great rush of power and freedom—Nietzsche talks about this.

Section 20:

Animals walk around in a state of permanent religious intoxication.

Presumably the same religious intoxication as is referred to in the OP a few pages later.

Section 49:

Life appears at its peak not in the grass hut village ruled by nutso mammies, but in the military state. ...
The free man is a warrior, and only a man of war is a real man.

In section 77, the final one, he foresees in language too verbose to quote, the rise of a few strong men who will leave this rotten civilisation, create their own fortresses, "develop above all their physical powers and their ability to wage war", and on occasion "send a great demagogue into the people, when this becomes necessary".

So. "Life appears at its peak in the military state." "Strength to purify this world of refuse." "A great demagogue." Where have we heard these sentiments before?

This book aspires to be the Mein Kampf of the alt-right.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Propagating Facts into Aesthetics · 2019-12-19T11:04:02.562Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW
Speaking of which: is civilization beautiful or ugly?

Beautiful.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Counterfactual Mugging: Why should you pay? · 2019-12-18T15:24:48.739Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Newcomb's paradox still works if Omega is not infallible, just right a substantial proportion of the time. Between the two extremes you have described, of free choice, unpredictable by Omega, and deterministic absence of choice, lies people's real psychology.

Just what is my power to sever links of a causal graph that point towards me? If I am faced with a wily salesman, how shall I be sure of making my decision to buy or not by my own values, taking into account what is informative from the salesman, but uninfluenced by his dark arts? Do I even know what my own values are? Do I have values? When QRO (Quite Reliable Omega) faces me, and I choose one box or two, how can I tell whether I really made that decision?

Interactions between people are mostly Newcomb-like. People are always thinking about who the other person is and what they may be thinking, and aiming their words to produce desired results. It is neither easy nor impossible, but a difficult thing, to truly make a decision.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Is Causality in the Map or the Territory? · 2019-12-18T12:54:20.964Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Here is a steam engine. If I connect the steam supply, the piston will reciprocate and make the flywheel spin. If I disconnect the steam, I can spin the flywheel and make the piston reciprocate.

My knowledge of these linkages is in my map, but the map works by being similar in structure to the territory. The linkages are also present in the territory.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Computational Model: Causal Diagrams with Symmetry · 2019-12-18T08:39:59.988Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I came up with the same example in a paper on causal analysis of control systems. A proper causal analysis would have to open the black box of the voltage or current source and reveal the circular patterns of causation within. Set up as a voltage source, it is continuously sensing its own output voltage and maintaining it close to the reference value set on the control panel. Set up as a current source, it is doing corresponding things with the sensed and reference currents.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Why are people so bad at dating? · 2019-12-17T15:10:16.518Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The people who date are those that have not found a partner.

The people who go on the "dating scene" are those who cannot find a partner from their existing social circles.

The people who use dating sites are those who have been unable to find a partner in any face-to-face venue.

If people who date are bad at dating, perhaps this is for the same reason that learner drivers are bad at driving.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Why are people so bad at dating? · 2019-12-17T14:57:51.338Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

In the ancestral environment, there wouldn't be such a thing as dating. Do chimpanzees "date"?

Comment by richard_kennaway on Evaluability (And Cheap Holiday Shopping) · 2019-12-17T13:49:17.828Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

2^^^...2 is 4 for any number of up-arrows. 3^^^3 is the first, simplest Knuth number (a three, three up-arrows, and a three) to give stupendously large values, far outstripping 2^^^4 or 4^^^2.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Affordance Widths · 2019-12-14T17:27:26.201Z · score: 2 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Edgar is an imaginary person, for whom you can invent whatever background story you like. Edgar is not making an argument and has nothing to say, because he does not exist. ialdabaoth is making an argument through the picture of Edgar, but I have seen enough of his writings here and elsewhere to stand by my characterisation of his vignette.

This is not about "blaming" Edgar or Edgar being "evil". If I met an Edgar (I have never met ialdabaoth) I would merely not care to know him. It is up to him to learn, but not up to me to teach. Perhaps he never will. Sucks to be Edgar, tough shit, Edgar.

As you can see, the milk of human kindness flows thinly in my veins, especially towards the Edgars of this world. Let those who think Edgar worth taking on as a project do so, and the best of luck to them.

We will likely never know what the 9/11 hijackers were thinking because they are all dead.

We know what they were thinking well enough from the accounts of similar people who have been taken alive, or announced their intentions before their deeds, and the propaganda of their supporters. Allahu akbar etc. There is no mystery about what they think. They want you to know and will tell you, so clearly and unambiguously that there is no scope for wondering about it.

ETA: Re this other comment of yours, I note that I had formed a negative opinion of ialdabaoth/Brent long before seeing the allegations of sexual harassment.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Affordance Widths · 2019-12-13T16:51:05.785Z · score: 4 (11 votes) · LW · GW

I seem not to have noticed this post at the time, but now the review process has brought it to my attention, I have strong-downvoted it and would disrecommend it for any "Best Of" list.

There is an unpleasant genre of posting in which someone says, "Suppose someone did X, Y, and Z, which are really bad! Don't you agree that would be really bad?" and it is obvious that this is a thinly disguised self-justifying whine about some real incident. It is also clear that no-one else involved would recognise it as an account of the matter.

This posting fits squarely into that genre.

ialdabaoth is Edgar. Charles and David only exist to interpolate between Edgar and all the (in ialdabaoth's view) horrid, nasty, happy Adams and Bobs hating on Edgar and unjustly excluding him. This post is of no more epistemic worth than a political cartoon. It is not even an argument, but a picture — literally — constructed in a medium that will put up with whatever you draw on it.

And if Edgar asked me for advice, what I would say, which I never would unless asked, would be "Sucks to be Edgar. Tough shit, Edgar."

Comment by richard_kennaway on Is Rationalist Self-Improvement Real? · 2019-12-10T12:45:41.717Z · score: 10 (7 votes) · LW · GW
And premodern people seem weirdly productive compared to moderns in a lot of ways.

I am curious. Could you expand on this?

Comment by richard_kennaway on Could someone please start a bright home lighting company? · 2019-12-09T10:27:24.231Z · score: 1 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Oh, somewhere on Google.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Dialogue on Appeals to Consequences · 2019-12-04T13:41:51.720Z · score: 13 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Carter is a mistake theorist, Quinn is a conflict theorist. At no point does Quinn ever talk about truth, or about anything, really. His words are weapons to achieve an end by whatever means possible. There is no more meaning in them than in a fist. Carter's meta-mistake is to believe that he is arguing with someone. Quinn is not arguing; he is in a fist fight.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Could someone please start a bright home lighting company? · 2019-12-02T15:00:56.068Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW
For 60W equivalent this can happen by natural air flow around the bulb, but a 200W equivalent bulb would need something like a built-in fan

From the net I find that a typical 60W incandescent is 10% efficient, therefore generates 54W of heat within the light fitting. A typical 60W equivalent LED bulb draws 7.5W and is 90% efficient, therefore generates 0.75W of heat in the fitting. Therefore, for an LED bulb to generate as much heat as a 60W incandescent, it would generate 54/0.75 = 72 times as much light, and be equivalent to 72*60 = 4320W of incandescent lighting.

Since 60W incandescents do not need fan cooling (or even 150W, which I have used at home in the past), why would a high-powered LED bulb?

Comment by richard_kennaway on Effect of Advertising · 2019-11-26T16:51:36.209Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

It's not clear to me what counts as advertising for the purpose of this scenario. It seems to me that without all the things I would call advertising, I would never discover many of the things I would want to buy.

A nicely presented shop window (or, for that matter, badly presented) is advertising. A book listing on Amazon is advertising. The web site for a business is advertising.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Matthew Walker's "Why We Sleep" Is Riddled with Scientific and Factual Errors · 2019-11-17T14:38:54.686Z · score: 33 (13 votes) · LW · GW

That is a strategy whose defects are proverbial.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Experiments and Consent · 2019-11-11T13:06:29.068Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think anyone is capable of it. A system that depends on passive vigilance and instant response from a human is broken from the start. Selection and training will not change this. You cannot select for what does not exist, nor train for what cannot be done. There's a gap that has to be crossed between involving the human at all times and involving the human not at all.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Open & Welcome Thread - November 2019 · 2019-11-06T13:39:31.613Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW
(Meta note: the commenting guidelines aren't showing up on mobile - it just says "habryka's commenting guidelines".)

And on desktop.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Open & Welcome Thread - November 2019 · 2019-11-06T13:37:34.115Z · score: 12 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Have any of these people said why they have made that choice?

I don't use twitter, but one possibility might be that it actually isn't a discussion forum. It's a place for drive-by firing off of thoughts. For a prominent person, the function of a tweet is to say, "This is what I am thinking about at the moment," so as to invite conversation elsewhere with the people they already know and find worth while talking to. This is far less time-consuming than an actual discussion forum, where it's expected that a post will be of a more substantial length and that you will participate in subsequent discussion.

I predict from this hypothesis that Eliezer makes hardly any replies on Twitter to replies to his tweets.