Comment by richard_kennaway on Liar Paradox Revisited · 2019-04-17T21:18:11.634Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

There are a couple of books I know of that deal with paradoxes of circularity. I've read the first one (a long time ago, so don't ask me about the details) but not the second.

"The Liar: An Essay on Truth and Circularity" by Barwise and Etchemendy, which is all about the liar paradox, its elaborations, and attempts to resolve them.

"Vicious Circles: On the Mathematics of Non-Wellfounded Phenomena" by Barwise and Moss is more wide-ranging.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Slack Club · 2019-04-16T16:43:06.841Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW
I've thought a bit about this common pattern [name concepts with unusual names] I see in rationalist writing and tried to formulate a theory of why it happens that accounts not only for why we see it here but also why I don't see it as much in other writing communities.

I see the pattern a lot in "spiritual" writings. See, for example, the "Integral Spirituality" being discussed in another recent post.

Comment by richard_kennaway on The Hard Work of Translation (Buddhism) · 2019-04-16T09:00:54.641Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW
The breath isn't a solid sensation, it's made up of many smaller sensations. Some instructions suggest investigating the "start", "middle" or "end" of the breath. Try to find the very specific part of that and generally the instructions suggest that you won't find it because there is no such thing. Owing in the direction of impermanence.

Well, that's where my experience departs from what everyone who writes about this says it's going to be. My breath still exists, I still exist, everything still exists, and looking closely enough to see that they are made of parts does not dispel the wholes, any more than seeing that my computer screen is made of pixels dispels the text that I can see on it. Everything persists in adding up to normality.

I can notice when I'm getting distracted from the task at hand.
I notice when I'm overwhelmed with juggling too many things because of the way that adrenaline-feel in my body changes my breathing pattern.

I notice this sort of thing too.

There's a lot of options of interesting things of value from studying the breath. Good books are "The Mind Illuminated" or "The Attention Revolution".

I've read State Star Codex's review of TMI, and I think that will do me. TAR might be interesting to me for the material on lucid dreaming. The rest looks like the same old.

Comment by richard_kennaway on The Hard Work of Translation (Buddhism) · 2019-04-16T06:01:42.812Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The thought stream was...concentrating on my breath? Going back to it when it wavered, per the instructions?

(BTW, I seem to have two slightly differently-named accounts. I was accidentally logged into the other when I posted the previous comment. It dates from LW 1.0.)

Comment by richard_kennaway on The Hard Work of Translation (Buddhism) · 2019-04-10T11:14:18.986Z · score: 19 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Thus are theories like the four humours, the five elements, yin/yang, signatures, and astrology created. I could mischievously add System 1/2, neuromarketing, and most schools of psychotherapy to that list.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Announcing the Center for Applied Postrationality · 2019-04-02T16:22:05.965Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Is that you, GPT2?

Comment by richard_kennaway on User GPT2 is Banned · 2019-04-02T11:54:38.458Z · score: 10 (6 votes) · LW · GW

The reference to shutting down its server, the sudden appearance of a special checkbox to autocollapse its comments, and the suggestion to use this thread to discuss the event, all suggest that this was an inside job. It was annoying while it lasted, but so is a fire alarm, for good reason. Bravo!

Comment by richard_kennaway on Open Thread April 2019 · 2019-04-01T15:47:44.040Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Agreed. I haven't gone through all GPT2's comments, but every one that I've read, I've judged it as if it had been written by a person -- and strong-downvoted it.

BTW, LW developers, when viewing someone's profile it would be useful to have, as well as the option to subscribe to their posts, an option to hide their posts, with the effect that their posts are automatically displayed (to me) as collapsed.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Open Thread April 2019 · 2019-04-01T12:50:24.049Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I expect that within the year, covert bots powered by GPT2 and its successors will make up a substantial proportion of the comments in at least some internet forums. It will not be much longer before they are extensively deployed as disinformation tools. Weeding them out will be the next Internet security challenge.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Open Thread April 2019 · 2019-04-01T12:49:57.948Z · score: 10 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I'd rather they were left in (but not continued), as an example and a warning. As sarahconstantin said,

The scary thing about GPT-2-generated text is that it flows very naturally if you’re just skimming, reading for writing style and key, evocative words.

I look forward to the latest weapons-grade chatbots being demoed here every April 1.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Open Problems Regarding Counterfactuals: An Introduction For Beginners · 2019-03-26T12:44:15.964Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

In the interests of beautifying the output, wherever you want to include words in a LaTeX mathematics context, it should not be done like this: $f(AIXI\ output)$, but like this: $f(\mbox{\textit{AIXI output}})$. That will ensure that the word or phrase is properly kerned and spaced, instead of being treated like a sequence of one-letter mathematical symbols.

Comment by richard_kennaway on The Politics of Age (the Young vs. the Old) · 2019-03-25T13:23:46.967Z · score: 8 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Does having children whose future you care about also count as skin in the game?

Comment by richard_kennaway on What societies have ever had legal or accepted blackmail? · 2019-03-20T11:30:48.079Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Of course there will be such cases, but they aren't the rule, or blackmail would hardly exist.

In most other crimes, the victim has an incentive to take action against the perpetrator. The entire point of blackmail is to put the victim in a position where he cannot do that.

Comment by richard_kennaway on What societies have ever had legal or accepted blackmail? · 2019-03-19T14:36:40.084Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW
there doesn't seem much enforcement.

Well, there wouldn't be, would there? When the victim accedes and the blackmailer keeps their end of the bargain, it will never come to the attention of law enforcement.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Blackmailers are privateers in the war on hypocrisy · 2019-03-18T17:56:45.879Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Do you think that receiving a bounty or a medal for turning over Jews to the Nazis, black people passing as white to lynch mobs, or blasphemers to imams changes things? If so, what would your price be?

Comment by richard_kennaway on Blackmailers are privateers in the war on hypocrisy · 2019-03-18T14:38:52.191Z · score: 6 (5 votes) · LW · GW
Allowing blackmail seems prima facie good to me, since it's a tax on covert illicit bejhavior.

Such as, for example, being covertly Jewish in Nazi Germany? Covertly of black ancestry in the American South in recent times past? Covertly an atheist in some parts of the world now, and much larger parts some centuries back?

If there exists some information about someone that, if revealed, would cause people to coordinate to punish them, then it's good for this information to be revealed because on average it's good for such people to be punished.

Does this apply to the above examples?

There is an implicit claim that enabling people to coordinate to punish someone is good in itself, independently of what they are punishing the person for. This is of such breathtaking moral bankruptcy that I hope to have misinterpreted something.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Ask LW: Have you read Yudkowsky's AI to Zombie book? · 2019-03-18T14:22:07.040Z · score: 8 (5 votes) · LW · GW
Read a few of the sequences. Then read the book. Then read all the sequences.

I notice that this reads just as well in the imperative mood as in the past indicative.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Blegg Mode · 2019-03-16T13:49:25.939Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I read the title as just an allusion to Eliezer’s OP on bleggs and rubes. (Otoh, without having read the article just linked, I’m familiar with “egg” as transsexual jargon for someone exploring TS feelings, who (the ideology has it) will inevitably in the end “hatch” into a full-on TS.)

Comment by richard_kennaway on Blegg Mode · 2019-03-16T09:31:21.038Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Categories are never arbitrary. They are created to serve purposes. They can serve those purposes better or worse. There can be multiple purposes, leading to multiple categories overlapping and intersecting. Purposes can be lost (imagine a link to the Sequences posting on lost purposes). “Arbitrary” is a “buffer” or “lullaby” word (imagine another link, I might put them in when I’m not writing on a phone on a train) that obscures all that.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Blegg Mode · 2019-03-16T09:02:57.400Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

FWIW, I predicted it would be an allegory of transsexuality even before I read it or any of the comments.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Do we need a high-level programming language for AI and what it could be? · 2019-03-06T21:49:50.439Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW


(Not actually serious, but if someone wants to try it...)

Comment by richard_kennaway on Programmatic Code Generation: Composability · 2019-03-04T11:51:10.272Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

All your code examples look like the formatting has been lost. I wondered what language uses triple double quotes, but looking at the Github site, the answer is "Python", which makes the loss of formatting even worse, because layout is syntactically significant in Python.

Comment by richard_kennaway on The Costly Coordination Mechanism of Common Knowledge · 2019-02-23T14:45:43.731Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW
"How can we ensure that Less Wrong produces common knowledge and not just a flood of ideas?"

"Read the Sequences."

Comment by richard_kennaway on When does introspection avoid the pitfalls of rumination? · 2019-02-21T11:17:13.555Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Consider someone learning a piano piece, and having difficulty with some passage.

If they merely try to play it over and over again, resulting in the same mistakes every time and the same frustration, they fail to make progress.

What they need to do in such a case is think about how they are trying to play it, work out why they are going wrong, and experiment with different fingerings and arm postures. The repetitive practice is still necessary, but it must be directed by an awareness of the possibilities that are available to explore, rather than a narrow focus on something that is not working.

As Edward de Bono puts it, "You cannot dig a hole in a different place by digging the same hole deeper."

Comment by richard_kennaway on The Clockmaker's Argument (But not Really) · 2019-02-21T11:04:20.043Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The answer depends on your definition of the word "God". Asking whether the word "God" applies to Bob is not a question about the properties of gods or the properties of Bob. It is exactly like disputing whether a tree that falls unheard made a sound.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Extraordinary ethics require extraordinary arguments · 2019-02-18T09:04:08.181Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Personally, I just dismiss scrupulosity as an error. I don't need a justification for doing this, any more than I need a justification for concluding that if, when doing some mathematics, I derive a contradiction, then I must have made an error somewhere. Call this the absurdity heuristic, call it a strong prior, but obsessing over the unknowable potentially enormous consequences of every breath I take is an obvious failure mode, and I don't do obvious failure modes. Instead, I do what looks like the right thing for me to do, the thing that only I will do. (That is just a rough description of a rule of thumb, not something with a detailed philosophical analysis behind it.)

This probably makes me a bad person by the standards of the typical EA. I have no interest in dissuading them from their calling, but it is not my calling.

Comment by richard_kennaway on The Clockmaker's Argument (But not Really) · 2019-02-18T08:39:28.209Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This is an imaginary scenario of someone creating a pocket universe. How does this bear on the question of whether we are in reality living in such a created universe?

Comment by richard_kennaway on How to notice being mind-hacked · 2019-02-06T15:44:18.812Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW
Seems we are talking past each other.

It seems to me that we are talking directly to each other's statements.

and I am tired of explaining why in my view this way of thinking is nice to start, but eventually harmful, I've been doing it on this blog for over 5 years.

And I've been contesting it even longer, although less frequently.

Take care.

You too. I am happy to leave a conversation as soon as it appears that everything has been said, whether or not anyone has been convinced of anything. But I would still like to know how you would set about diagnosing and repairing a faulty bicycle. It is in simple, everyday matters like these that one can best see what pays rent and what does not.

Comment by richard_kennaway on How to notice being mind-hacked · 2019-02-05T13:41:11.504Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW
Epicycles worked for astronomy and astrology for some centuries.

Nothing works for astrology.

Belief in God among religious people gets you to socialize and be accepted by the community, with all the associated perks, and so is useful, and therefore "good", if thriving in your community is what you value.

In practice, you are expected to actually believe, not merely pretend to believe -- that is, lie your way through every religious ritual.

self-consistency is what you are after, faith would not pay rent and you need to find a "better" way to make sense of the world.

Not a "better" way, but a better way. Reality has no inverted commas.

As it happens, my bicycle has developed a couple of mechanical problems. I already have a rough idea of what needs to be done, but the first thing I need to do when I have the time is examine it to discover exactly what needs to be done -- to discover what is true about the faults, and so be able to replace exactly the parts that need to be replaced, clean the parts that need cleaned, lubricate what needs lubricating, and adjust what needs adjusting. This talk about usefulness is an evasion of reality. What is useful to me regarding my bicycle is the truth about it, nothing less.

Whatever you find useful, if you are serious about it, you will find that you need to know the truth about it, to know what will achieve your purposes and what will not.

Comment by richard_kennaway on How to notice being mind-hacked · 2019-02-04T13:48:35.947Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

What you do changes who you are.

That includes whatever you do to avoid this happening.

Comment by richard_kennaway on How to notice being mind-hacked · 2019-02-04T13:44:48.250Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

What makes a model good, or to allude to a much-quoted aphorism of Cox that I find rather irritating, useful? What do you want to do with a model, that you can rate a model on its fitness for that purpose?

Comment by richard_kennaway on The Question Of Perception · 2019-01-30T09:54:54.775Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW
It would be interesting to hear whether people recognize the above ideas as something familiar

Very familiar, from multiple sources, all the way back to reading Korzybski as a teenager. "Consciousness of abstracting" is what he called it.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Non-Consequentialist Cooperation? · 2019-01-11T15:32:33.282Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The Suffering Golem is no thought experiment. There are actual people who live with great suffering. Some of them wish to die, but some do not. Should you kill someone who is in untreatable pain, against their definitely expressed, compos mentis wishes? Should such an act be legally not murder but justifiable homicide, justified by the amount of suffering thereby prevented?

I say no. What do others say?

Comment by richard_kennaway on What are questions? · 2019-01-09T21:25:24.187Z · score: 4 (5 votes) · LW · GW

A dictionary will tell you that a question is a sentence worded or expressed so as to elicit information, and it seems to me that that is exactly how the word is used. There is something that one does not know and wishes to know, and a question, addressed to someone who might know, is one means of satisfying that want.

I don't see what the big deal is.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Defining Freedom · 2018-12-22T14:34:43.649Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The quote (in my undertanding of it) is not about "instinct", i.e. not knowing why you did something. Quite the opposite: it is seeing things clearly enough to make the right choice quickly and knowingly. Recognising what must be done and why, not dithering in "choice". And this is recommended as the way to live, or to strive to live. Achieving anything requires action, action requires choice, and choices must actually be made, cutting off paths as the sculptor cuts away marble, destroying all the sculptures that could be made except for the one that he has decided to make. The sculptor who sits beside a block of marble, merely contemplating the great works that he might make but never raising his chisel to the stone, is failing as a sculptor.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Defining Freedom · 2018-12-20T14:06:48.764Z · score: 9 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The thing that you are calling "freedom" seems to be the inability to act, to make a choice. Why would this be a desirable thing?

Here's something I've quoted a couple of times before on LessWrong. Time to bring it out again:

"You pride yourself on freedom of choice. Let me tell you that this very freedom is one of the factors that most confuse and undermine you. It gives you full play for your neuroses, your surface reactions and your aberrations. What you should aim for is freedom from choice! Faced with two possibilities, you spend time and effort to decide which to accept. You review the whole spectrum of political, emotional, social, physical, psychological and physiological conditioning before coming up with the answer which, more often than not, does not even satisfy you then. Do you know, can you comprehend, what freedom it gives you if you have no choice? Do you know what it means to be able to choose so swiftly and surely that to all intents and purposes you have no choice? The choice that you make, your decision, is based on such positive knowledge that the second alternative may as well not exist."

-- Rafael Lefort, "The Teachers of Gurdjieff", ch. XIV

Every choice you make removes that choice from you. If your first thought on making a decision is "Was that the right decision?" then you did not make a decision. When you have truly made a decision, the decision is no longer in front of you, it is behind, receding into the past. Every step in the dance moves on, cutting off from realisation all the steps that were not made in order to make this one.

No-one is granted a God's eye view of the whole garden of forking paths, from where you might experience all the different possibilities together without ever having to choose among them. You only get a single run-through of the game.

Comment by richard_kennaway on An Extensive Categorisation of Infinite Paradoxes · 2018-12-18T11:40:53.343Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, you're right.

Comment by richard_kennaway on An Extensive Categorisation of Infinite Paradoxes · 2018-12-17T17:12:37.824Z · score: -1 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Your second example, 1 > 1/2 > 1/4 > ... > 0, is a well-order. To make it non-well-ordered, leave out the 0.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Player vs. Character: A Two-Level Model of Ethics · 2018-12-15T23:24:03.556Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm raising a question more than making an argument. Are there futures that would seem to present-day people completely alien or even monstrous, that nevertheless its inhabitants would consider a vast improvement over our present, their past? Would these hypothetical descendants regard as mere paperclipping, an ambition to fill the universe forever with nothing more than people comfortably like us?

"Of Life only is there no end; and though of its million starry mansions many are empty and many still unbuilt, and though its vast domain is as yet unbearably desert, my seed shall one day fill it and master its matter to its uttermost confines. And for what may be beyond, the eyesight of Lilith is too short. It is enough that there is a beyond."

Comment by richard_kennaway on An Extensive Categorisation of Infinite Paradoxes · 2018-12-15T13:53:48.352Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

As I understand it, there is not yet a good theory of integration on the surreals. Partial progress has been made, but there are also some negative results establishing limitations on the possibilities. Here is a recent paper.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Player vs. Character: A Two-Level Model of Ethics · 2018-12-15T13:39:34.823Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW
If humanity is replaced by "descendants" which are completely alien or even monstrous from our point of view, did humanity "survive"?

Og see 21st century. Og say, "Where is caveman?"

3-year-old you sees present-day you...

Present you sees 90-year-old you...

90-year-old you sees your 300-year-old great great grandchildren...

Comment by richard_kennaway on Tentatively considering emotional stories (IFS and “getting into Self”) · 2018-12-11T09:45:29.881Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

These are extremes that I have no experience with. I have had no childhood trauma. I have never had, sought, nor been suggested to have any form of psychological diagnosis or therapy. I have never had depression, mania, anxiety attacks, SAD, PTSD, hearing imaginary voices, hallucinations, or any of the rest of the things that psychiatrists see daily. I have had no drug trips. I laugh at basilisks.

It sometimes seems to me that this mental constitution, to me a very ordinary one, makes me an extreme outlier here.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Is the human brain a valid choice for the Universal Turing Machine in Solomonoff Induction? · 2018-12-09T13:05:13.015Z · score: 10 (3 votes) · LW · GW

My recursive suggestion won't work. One can devise a UTM that gives the shortest code to itself, by the usual reflexivity constructions. The computability theory textbook method looks better. But what theoretical justification can be given for it? Why are we confident that bad explanations are not lurking within it?

Actually, perhaps we shouldn't be. It has already been remarked by Eliezer that Solomonoff induction gives what looks like undue weight to hypotheses involving gigantic numbers with short descriptions, e.g. 3^^^3, despite the fact that, looking at the world, such numbers have never been useful for anything but talking about gigantic numbers, and proving what are generally expected to be very generous upper bounds for some combinatorial theorems.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Is the human brain a valid choice for the Universal Turing Machine in Solomonoff Induction? · 2018-12-09T09:29:29.049Z · score: 19 (6 votes) · LW · GW

The definition of Solomonoff induction is indifferent to the choice of universal Turing machine, because the difference it makes is a bounded number of bits. Two calculations of Kolmogorov complexity using different UTMs will always agree to within a number of bits c, where c depends on both of the UTMs (and measures how easily each can simulate the other).

c can be arbitrarily large.

If you pack your UTM full of preferred hypotheses given short codings (e.g. "let it be a human brain"), then you will get those hypotheses back out of it. But that did not come from Solomonoff induction. It came from your choice of UTM.

This raises the question: if, contra the theoretical indifference to choice of UTM, the choice does matter, how should the choice be made? One might consider a UTM having minimal description length, but which UTM do you use to determine that, before you've chosen one? Suppose one first chooses an arbitrary UTM T0, then determines which UTM T1 is given the shortest description length by T0, then generates T2 from T1 in the same way, does this necessarily converge on a UTM that in some definable sense has no extra hypotheses stuffed into it? Or does this process solve nothing?

Alternatively, you might go with some standard construction of a UTM out of a computability theory textbook. Those look minimal enough that no complex hypotheses would be unjustly favoured, but it seems to me there is still a theoretical gap to be plugged here.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Tentatively considering emotional stories (IFS and “getting into Self”) · 2018-12-05T16:55:52.931Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

That is an area in which it appears that experiences differ a great deal. I doubt that Said would recognise these "sub-personalities", and for that matter, neither do I. I experience myself as a coherent person, made of parts that do not behave like persons.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Book Review - Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness · 2018-12-05T09:49:12.356Z · score: 10 (3 votes) · LW · GW
The fish seems to be choosing environment B in order to relieve its pain

Given that a child can build a Lego robot that will avoid light, or loud sounds, or whatever else it has a sensor for, it's not clear why this behaviour in a fish is evidence of pain qualia when we don't take it to be so in a robot.

Comment by richard_kennaway on No option to report spam · 2018-12-03T22:54:00.853Z · score: 13 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Usually, if I click on one of the spam articles listed in the notifications sidebar, it's already gone. Whatever the spam-be-gone process is, would it be possible for it to also remove it from the notifications?

Comment by richard_kennaway on Coherence arguments do not imply goal-directed behavior · 2018-12-03T09:45:29.260Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW
(I think I’ve seen it before too, but I can’t remember where.)

Possibly on LessWrong (v1.0), where on a couple of occasions I called it the Texas Sharpshooter Utility Function (to imply that it is a useless concept).

Comment by richard_kennaway on Humans Consulting HCH · 2018-11-26T22:50:30.628Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

So, one way of solving the recursion problem would be for Hugh to never use the machine as a first resort for answering a question Q. Instead, Hugh must resolve to ask the machine only for answers to questions that are "smaller" than Q in some well-ordered sense, and do the rest of the work himself.

But unless the machine is faster at simulating Hugh than Hugh is at being Hugh, it is not clear what is gained. Even if it is, all you get is the same answer that unaided Hugh would have got, but faster.

Comment by richard_kennaway on Conversational Cultures: Combat vs Nurture · 2018-11-26T18:35:28.582Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · LW · GW

One might even say that all functioning communities are alike; each dysfunctional community is dysfunctional in its own way. "For men are good in but one way, but bad in many."