“The Wisdom of the Lazy Teacher” 2021-11-21T21:11:10.490Z
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 How do Bayesians tell what does and doesn't count as evidence (which, e.g., hypotheses may render more or less probable if true)? Is it possible for something to fuzzily-be evidence? · 2021-11-30T15:29:10.010Z · LW · GW

For the pure, ideal Bayesian, everything is "evidence". Given the probabilities that you currently assign to all possible statements about the world, when you observe that some statement P is true, you update all your probabilities in accordance with the mathematical rules.

If I then ask, "suppose I don't observe that P is true, only something suggesting that P is likely true?" the answer is that in that case I did not observe P. I observed something else Q. It is then the truth of Q that I should use to update my probabilities for P and everything else.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Omicron Variant Post #1: We’re F***ed, It’s Never Over · 2021-11-28T20:58:48.067Z · LW · GW

"The B.1.1.529 (omicron) Spike looks a whole lot like a 'polymutant' Spike experimentally generated to evade antibody responses from infection or vaccination"

At this point I have to wonder about the existence of antinatalist virologists.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Covid 11/25: Another Thanksgiving · 2021-11-26T11:47:18.959Z · LW · GW

I use one of these, the Turmix AX 200. It's exactly what it looks like, a tub of water with a heating element. I get limescale building up, but no algae. Personally, I wouldn't use an ultrasonic one, because I don't care to have ultrasonics blasting in my ears, even if I supposedly can't "hear" them. Loud ultrasonics can damage your hearing even if you can't hear the ultrasonics themselves, and I've no way of measuring how loud they are.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on lc's Shortform · 2021-11-25T09:14:38.378Z · LW · GW

Happened to someone else once :)

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Paxlovid Remains Illegal: 11/24 Update · 2021-11-24T14:56:59.340Z · LW · GW

Every pill used today is not a pill not used later. More pills will be made later, for as long as there is a need for them.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Yoav Ravid's Shortform · 2021-11-23T23:11:00.480Z · LW · GW

Looking at the sky suggests the Sun goes round the Earth.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Use Tools For What They're For · 2021-11-23T17:44:57.708Z · LW · GW

For example.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Use Tools For What They're For · 2021-11-23T12:43:45.460Z · LW · GW

As we know, the reason they emphasize the "horse" in "horse dewormer" is that some people may have been taking horse-size doses of ivermectin and dying from it.

I thought the people saying "horse dewormer" were emphasising it because "Haw! Haw! HORSE DEWORMER!!! Lookit the stoopid Rethuglicans using HORSE DEWORMER!!! HORSE DEWORMER!!! HORSE DEWORMER!!! Haw! Haw! Haw! HORSE DEWORMER!!! Haw! Haw! Stoopids going to the ER cos they took HORSE DEWORMER!!! Serves them right I hope they die die die HORSE DEWORMER!!!"

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on “The Wisdom of the Lazy Teacher” · 2021-11-22T10:28:56.091Z · LW · GW

The linked article is about what to do as a student rather than what to do as a teacher.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on The Meta-Puzzle · 2021-11-22T08:47:22.475Z · LW · GW

"I am single if and only if I worship God."

If I worship God, then the sentence reduces to "I am single", and since I worship God, it must be true.

If I worship Satan, it reduces to "I am not single", and since I worship Satan, it must be false.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Generalizing From One Example · 2021-11-21T20:15:19.883Z · LW · GW

Compare and contrast.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on D&D.Sci Dungeoncrawling: The Crown of Command Evaluation & Ruleset · 2021-11-16T21:23:19.568Z · LW · GW

I understand the objective and the context. I was just wondering about the current state of getting an AI to output the implications of a piece of text such as these D&D rules, rather than either generating more text like it, or operating on data like the data set you originally provided.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on D&D.Sci Dungeoncrawling: The Crown of Command Evaluation & Ruleset · 2021-11-16T20:25:52.250Z · LW · GW

It seems fairly straightforward for someone, given these rules, to calculate the optimal solutions. Does there currently exist any AI software that would be capable of reading the rules as you have set them out, and finding those solutions?

I recall Lenat's Eurisko that won several tournaments of some type of space war game, by playing massive numbers of games with itself and finding strategies that humans would have difficulty finding (e.g. using "lifeboats" as "armour"), but I've never heard of more advanced stuff in that line. There is Cyc, but nothing seems to have come of that.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on You Don't Need Anthropics To Do Science · 2021-11-07T15:21:15.783Z · LW · GW

Is anthropic reasoning, as used in this example, an attempt to provide frequentist foundations for Bayesian reasoning?

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on God Is Great · 2021-11-06T20:42:54.129Z · LW · GW

Epistemically, invisible alpha is a retreat from the observed absence of visible alpha, saving the hypothesis by redefining it in just the ways required to evade the evidence.

In the end, reality itself has always been the ultimate arbiter of any claim to truth or authority.

This is the big step up.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Has LessWrong Been Mind-Killed on the Topic of God and Religion? · 2021-11-06T17:25:12.423Z · LW · GW

No, it's just that we've rejected the concept of "God" as wrong, i.e. not in accordance with reality. Some ancient questions really are solved, and this is one of them. Calling reality "God" doesn't make it God, any more than calling a dog's tail a leg makes it a leg. The dog won't start walking on it.

The claimed evolution of ideas of God towards "reality" is the evolution of those ideas towards "actually, there's no such thing."

Besides, you made a brand new account for that posting, acted plaintively injured when it got a poor reception, and then suggested we're not as open-minded as we might like to think. I've seen the pattern before on LessWrong. It was trolling then. Why should I not think that it is trolling now?

See also.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on A system of infinite ethics · 2021-11-04T10:44:10.445Z · LW · GW

How do you deal with the problem that in an infinite setting, expected values do not always exist? For example, the Cauchy distribution has no expected value. Neither do various infinite games, e.g. St Petersburg with payouts of alternating sign. Even if you can handle Inf and -Inf, you're then exposed to NaNs.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Self-Integrity and the Drowning Child · 2021-11-02T16:31:29.946Z · LW · GW

An adult may wade where a child would drown. "The water, in this parable, didn't look like it would be over their own adult heads." (I don't know if Eliezer added that after you brought this up.) (And "heads" should be singular. The class are children, and there is one hypothetical adult.)

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Zoe Curzi's Experience with Leverage Research · 2021-11-02T13:16:21.558Z · LW · GW

Point taken, but I stand by the observation.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Zoe Curzi's Experience with Leverage Research · 2021-11-02T09:27:17.567Z · LW · GW

("object" is basically their confusing term for a psychologically-unhealthy memetic thing)

Cult symptom! Invented terminology for invented, fictitious entities.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on The Anxious Philosopher King · 2021-11-01T21:41:56.414Z · LW · GW

everything humans do, from eating a sandwich to invading Iraq, is to manage anxiety and negative emotion

You lose me at this point. The rest, from my point of view, just wanders off into the fog.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on I Really Don't Understand Eliezer Yudkowsky's Position on Consciousness · 2021-10-31T22:12:19.723Z · LW · GW

When you sit alone in an empty room, do you have a sense of your own presence, your own self? Can you be aware, not only of your sensations, but of the sensation of having those sensations? Can you have thoughts, and be aware of having those thoughts? And be aware of having these awarenesses?

My answer to each of these questions is "yes".

But for you, do these questions fail to point to anything in your experience?

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Resurrecting all humans ever lived as a technical problem · 2021-10-31T22:04:11.405Z · LW · GW

Generating all possible minds and then picking out the one you want is identical to simply building the one you want. In the same way, finding a book in Borges' Library of Babel is equivalent to writing the book yourself. In both cases, if you follow the improbability, all the work lies in determining which one you want.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on A very crude deception eval is already passed · 2021-10-30T19:53:59.841Z · LW · GW

The way you use the word "eval", it sounds like some technical term from some particular context. What do you mean by it? Would the first sentence mean the same if it said instead "I was thinking about tests that would tell us when we're getting to models that are capable of deception."?

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Is nuking women and children cheaper than firebombing them? · 2021-10-29T15:30:46.631Z · LW · GW

You said that, not me.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Harry Potter and the Methods of Psychomagic | Chapter 2: The Global Neuronal Workspace · 2021-10-27T10:44:35.080Z · LW · GW

Proofreading nitpick — there's a brief lurch into the present tense here:

Consequently psychology is now what’s called a soft science.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Hegel vs. GPT-3 · 2021-10-27T07:30:57.360Z · LW · GW

The giveaway for me was nothing to do with the meaning (if any) of the text, but the antimetabole in the second sentence of II. I have not observed GPT-3 to make such exact structures.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on My experience at and around MIRI and CFAR (inspired by Zoe Curzi's writeup of experiences at Leverage) · 2021-10-25T14:43:44.691Z · LW · GW

Are there canonical correct answers to koans?

"The Sound of One Hand: 281 Zen Koans with Answers"

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Feature Suggestion: one way anonymity · 2021-10-24T09:37:19.392Z · LW · GW

It's also better than the Scott Alexander situation, since your articles can only be doxed one at a time, rather than all at once.

It would be simple to write a bot that would scrape names from all the semi-anonymous articles. Someone could even set up a LessWrong mirror that automatically de-anonymised everything.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Successful Mentoring on Parenting, Arranged Through LessWrong · 2021-10-22T18:35:17.167Z · LW · GW

Consider all those teenaged Olympic medallists. It wasn't just their genes that got them there. It takes opportunity as well. This is what parents can provide. And yes, the parents have the genes as well, but all that means is that they are in a position to provide those opportunities. Whether they do or not is their choice. These are the choices that distinguish good parenting from bad.

Think of parenting as being the primary stage of a rocket.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on My experience at and around MIRI and CFAR (inspired by Zoe Curzi's writeup of experiences at Leverage) · 2021-10-22T08:43:08.797Z · LW · GW

I'm standing here on the sidelines shouting HEY Y'ALL WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING--

Curiously, "HEY Y'ALL WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING" is how I read Ilya's comment.

I'm not interested in the c-word, but the more this goes on, the more wary I am of having anything to do with MIRI, CFAR, Leverage 2.0, and any related organisations, as well as some of the individuals spoken of. Not that I ever have done, but until now that was only because I'm on another continent, and I don't do community anyway.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on In Wikipedia — reading about Roko's basilisk causing "nervous breakdowns" ... · 2021-10-17T06:08:54.972Z · LW · GW

Given the latest post about not just Leverage but also CFAR and MIRI, the Wikipedia article now seems to me sufficiently accurate as it stands.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Is nuking women and children cheaper than firebombing them? · 2021-10-16T12:58:33.780Z · LW · GW

Because money is bounded, but depravity is not.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on In Wikipedia — reading about Roko's basilisk causing "nervous breakdowns" ... · 2021-10-15T13:25:25.385Z · LW · GW

There's no way to give a citation to Eliezer not saying it. You might get further querying the citations in the article for the claim that he did say it. There are three, but the first does not mention it and the third calls it a rumour. The second quotes a chunk of Eliezer's immediate response to Roko, the one that began "Listen to me very closely, you idiot" (which I remember reading at the time), and then says "Yudkowsky said that Roko had already given nightmares to several LessWrong users and had brought them to the point of breakdown." My memory is not detailed enough to say whether he said that, but I think it quite likely that someone did say something of the sort back then.

If you search LessWrong for "Listen to me very closely, you idiot", there is a hit on that comment by Eliezer, but the comment itself has been deleted. Since there is that hit, the comment is presumably still in the database. Perhaps the LessWrong admins might be willing to give you sight of it? But the result either way wouldn't be a citable source for Wikipedia.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Actually possible: thoughts on Utopia · 2021-10-14T17:03:22.032Z · LW · GW

What would a Nazi utopia look like? Perhaps an alternate history in which they won the Second World War, conquered Europe and Russia, exterminated the Jews, and became the pre-eminent global superpower. (Harry Turtledove has written several short stories set in versions of that history.) It wouldn't be anyone else's utopia, though.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Book Review: Free Will · 2021-10-14T15:07:59.540Z · LW · GW

I don't put any weight of probability (including 0) on either of these. Both depend on presuppositions about brain "modules" that I judge to be so far from making sense that taking either of them seriously would be privileging the hypothesis.

Where is the "speed" module in a car?

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Book Review: Denial of Death · 2021-10-14T08:17:15.202Z · LW · GW

Yes, some will claim they lack this fear, but Becker attributes this to a successful repression: “[From Zilboorg:] A man will say, of course, that he knows he will die some day...and he does not care to bother about it - but this is a purely intellectual, verbal admission. The affect of fear is repressed.”

Heads I win, tails you lose.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Book Review: Free Will · 2021-10-12T14:32:06.564Z · LW · GW

Does a "free will" module in a brain make any more sense than a "speed" module in a car?

How do you tell from within whether you have shut down a module or merely averted your mental eye from the phenomenon? "There is no light," says the sceptic, turning it off. "See?"

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Book Review: Free Will · 2021-10-12T08:23:22.337Z · LW · GW

What does Harris say he means by the words "free will"?

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Book Review: Free Will · 2021-10-12T08:03:28.837Z · LW · GW

I am an experienced sleeper with years of intensive practice for hours every night. I routinely experience states where the perception of anything at all goes away, states where not only "no decision" is ever taken, but where nothing even "happens".

But I do not mistake this for a deep insight into the nature of the mind. It just tells me that it can turn on and off.

Meditators, it seems, have learned to shut off parts of their mind, while leaving enough still running to be able to report on the experience afterwards. That does not mean that those parts do not exist. It just means that they have turned them off.

FWIW, I do also meditate from time to time, although I am not sure that the thing that I do that I am calling meditation is the same as the things that other people do that they call meditation (or that the things that other people do are the same as each other). Be that as it may, I don't see any more reason to credit the diminished, enhanced, or weird states that some report with any insight into reality, any more than I would credit drug experiences with the same, spontaneous episodes of religious revelation (see the case of John C. Wright), or "strokes of insight" (Jill Bolte Taylor).

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Do you like excessive sugar? · 2021-10-09T16:16:31.077Z · LW · GW

My short answer to the question in the title is "NO!!"

As you ask for anecdotes, here's mine. No food is a "superstimulus" for me in the way that Eliezer describes. Some years back, I noticed the size of cakes in cafes double. (I don't know why, but it seemed to happen in them all at about the same time.) I have responded by no longer buying them. Each one is two or three times what I would have when having coffee and a cake at home. Even the croissants are often giant-sized, and these days almond croissants seem to be made by boiling the whole thing in marzipan.

I don't put actual sugar from a bowl into or onto anything except a modest sprinkle on a bowl of berries of some sort, which happens maybe once in a couple of weeks. It takes many years to go through a bag of sugar at that rate. I do not drink soft drinks. I have never attempted to measure how much "added sugar" I consume each day, but just eyeballing the matter I expect it is far below even the "recommended" limit of 36 grams.

This is not the result of any sort of deliberate denial of my desires; on the contrary, I eat what I want when I want it. I find overeating quite unpleasant.

A diet of pasta and sugar sounds revolting, so I'm afraid I won't be conducting the experiment, hence this being a comment, not an answer.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Does any of AI alignment theory also apply to supercharged humans? · 2021-10-07T16:10:06.108Z · LW · GW

I think it already applies to ordinarily highly charged humans. Consider the Great Dictators of the 20th century. Consider also "Reason as memetic immune disorder", vs. "Taking Ideas Seriously". Humans are dangerous General Intelligences.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Towards a Bayesian model for Empirical Science · 2021-10-07T16:03:37.210Z · LW · GW

I am taking the point of the post to be as indicated in the title and the lead: creating a model for doing Empirical Science. Finding out the value of a variable — especially one with no physical existence, like a correlation between two other variables — is a very small part of science.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Towards a Bayesian model for Empirical Science · 2021-10-07T15:31:24.959Z · LW · GW

The point I'm raising is independent of the example. "Looking for a correlation" is never the beginning of an enquiry, and, pace mukashi, is not necessarily a part of the enquiry. What is this Scientist really wanting to study? What is the best way to study that?

I work with biologists who study plants, trying to work out how various things happen, such as the development of leaf shapes, or the development of the different organs of flowers, or the process of building cell walls out of cellulose fibrils. Whatever correlations they might from time to time measure, that is subordinate to questions of what genes are being expressed where, and how biological structures get assembled.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Towards a Bayesian model for Empirical Science · 2021-10-07T09:48:28.446Z · LW · GW

Imagine you are a Good Scientist. You know about p-hacking and the replication crisis. You want to follow all best practices. You want to be doing Good Science!

You're designing an experiment to detect if there's a correlation between two variables.

Your Good Scientist has gone off the rails already. Why do they want to know if there's a correlation between two variables? What use is a correlation?

I am not seeing where your Bayesian Scientist is doing any better. He's dropped p-values and adopted a prior, but he's still just looking for correlations and expressing results according to the Bayesian ritual instead of the Frequentist ritual. But nobody cares whether smokers tend to be taller or shorter than non-smokers. They care about whether smoking stunts growth. A Truly Good Scientist needs to be looking for causal structures and mechanisms.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on How can one identify the absolute safest car in practice rather than theory? · 2021-10-06T20:28:09.363Z · LW · GW

What else should I consider, and what other important factors am I not thinking of if my end goal is finding cars that are really a cut above the rest in terms of safety?

Are you thinking about your own skill at driving? Maybe you are, and left it out because that isn't the question you wanted to ask here, but it is something to think about. For all I know, you might have years of experience driving emergency vehicles with sirens through traffic at twice the speed limit without dying, but otherwise, some sort of advanced driver training might be something to look into.

Another thing to consider is what colour it should be. Anecdote: a friend of mine once went off a country road and violently bumped to a stop in a field. She was injured enough that she couldn't get out of her car. Fortunately, another driver came along, saw, and stopped to help, but she realised that because her car was dark-coloured, if this had happened at night she would have been invisible. Her next car was bright yellow.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on What can we learn from traditional societies? · 2021-10-05T11:01:10.984Z · LW · GW

A small data point on parent-only upbringing. Among the working classes in Britain it is not unusual, if a family has many children, for older ones to be sent to live with their grandparents, to take the load off their parents.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on What do determinists here think about free will and Chalmer's hard problem of consciousness? · 2021-09-30T20:23:16.605Z · LW · GW

Surgery and counterfactuals are operations on one's model of reality. This is why "These counterfactuals ... do not actually exist". For practical purposes, surgery can often be carried out as well as needed for an experiment. This is what randomisation is for (a point Pearl makes explicitly).

The rest of your comment is about the complications of agents that model themselves and each other, and can even know more about another agent than that agent does about itself, and must consider the possibility that they don't exist except as a simulation performed by another agent. This is at the very least an active research area with as yet no settled theory (or name?), and indeed is quite beyond the scope of standard causal DAGs.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on How can one train philosophical skill? · 2021-09-30T17:47:21.173Z · LW · GW

Pirsig also writes that philosophy is not actually taught at universities. Instead, philosophy departments teach "philosophology", the study of what other philosophers have written.

But his book was nearly fifty years ago. Is that still the state of things?

Pirsig draws a contrast with music students, whose studies consist primarily of developing their skill at their instrument, not musicology, whereas philosophy students never do philosophy at all, only philosophology. This is why a Ph.D. thesis in philosophy typically consists of an exhaustive scholarly history of everything of consequence that has previously been written on its topic, with a single chapter late on setting out the author's modest contribution, and a few concluding chapters relating it to the history. In science subjects, the thesis sets out primarily what its author has done, and the exhaustive history is replaced by a literature survey of no more than a chapter.

A colleague once showed me a newly completed Ph.D. thesis he had received from its author, which he found rather odd. I looked through it and laughed, because it took exactly the form I recognised from Pirsig. So I don't think he was caricaturing.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on What do determinists here think about free will and Chalmer's hard problem of consciousness? · 2021-09-30T17:18:56.632Z · LW · GW

Counterfactuals are, for example, discussed here. But likely you have seen that at some point, and are familiar with the Pearlian account of counterfactuals as surgery on causal graphs. Can you enlarge on what you think is lacking?