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 Fire Law Incentives · 2021-07-22T21:18:46.138Z · LW · GW

I believe you mean "non-flammable". "Inflammable" means the same as "flammable", the "in-" here being not a negative prefix but having causative meaning, as in "inflame". "Flammable" was coined to avoid the confusion about what "inflammable" means.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Covid 7/22: Error Correction · 2021-07-22T20:57:17.660Z · LW · GW

Amidst all the insanity you recount, there's one that doesn't ring true, the @northumbriapol tweet. The account exists on Twitter, and does appear to be the real Northumbria Police, but Twitter search does not turn up the tweet. However, I don't know how effective Twitter search is. Google search also fails to find the initial phrase of the tweet.

There is currently no outdoor daily exercise allowance anywhere in the UK, and there has not been for a long time. The full image that "drukpa_kunley" posted contains a date of 7 Jan 2021 and includes a link ( to the "Full story", but the link is 404 (from, not whatever the target of the link was).

If the alleged @northumbriapol tweet is genuine, the reposter has plucked old news from the past and reposted as if it was happening now. I would more bluntly describe this as a lie.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Rationality Yellow Belt Test Questions? · 2021-07-07T09:25:42.398Z · LW · GW

Some other models for admission to an inner circle have been used.

In the old days, the way you got to be a spy for Her Majesty's Government was to be the "right sort", sound opinions, lively mind, and you might one day receive the metaphorical tap on the shoulder, and someone would suggest to you that a sound chap like yourself might be interested in an opportunity to serve your country in certain ways. This was not something you could explicitly put yourself forwards for, but if you cultivated the right connections, and the right attitudes, and impressed your tutors at Oxford or Cambridge, then you might find yourself invited into the agency that was never officially acknowledged to exist.

The entrance test for certain esoteric schools (it is said) was to discover their existence and to find your way to them on your own initiative.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on We Still Don't Know If Masks Work · 2021-07-05T09:57:09.709Z · LW · GW

For the reasons you describe, it seems to me futile to assess the efficacy of masks from observational data. Has anyone looked at the actual mechanism, the filtering out of particles of certain sizes, studying the size range of virus-carrying particles, the different mask materials, and so on? That seems a lot more useful than ever-higher piles of statistics. I remember seeing studies about that about a year ago, but nothing recently.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on The Unexpected Hanging Paradox · 2021-06-27T17:15:05.012Z · LW · GW

Eliezer's ultimate ultrafinitist principle[1] that you never encounter more than two levels of meta is handy here.

  1. I can't remember exactly what he called it or where he posted it. ↩︎

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on The Point of Trade · 2021-06-23T16:46:55.993Z · LW · GW

Even in the final hypothetical world, there are still enormous gains to be had from specialisation. Gains from specialisation arise because while a person may be imagined to have zero task-switching cost, most tasks still have non-zero person-switching cost in that hypothetical world. Specialisation necessitates trade, so that each person can get what they need but do not make from the people who make those things to trade for what they need. (One could talk about trade being unnecessary in a “perfectly planned” economy, but that would be going off in a direction not relevant to the original question. The quotes are, still not relevant.)

For example: My iPhone cost about £1000, which I earn in a certain number of days. Even in the final hypothetical world, I cannot see how I could make an iPhone in that many days. (First, build a fab plant...) Could ten thousand bricklayers each add one brick to a house for the same total effort as a small team adding ten thousand? Could 137672 clones of Andrew Wiles each spend (9 years * 8 hours/day / 137672) =10 minutes on Fermat's Last Theorem and collectively prove it? Could Elon Musk's projects exist without an Elon Musk, even in these hypothetical worlds? I believe not, short of raising the hypotheses so far as to make all of humanity into a single collective intelligence.

When there is only one person, does that at last obviate trade? Perhaps not even then. Algorithms based on bidding and trading have already been used in factory scheduling, and could be part of how such a collective intelligence worked.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on The Point of Trade · 2021-06-23T15:58:11.636Z · LW · GW

Am I misunderstanding your example, or is this a world in which transfer of goods is impossible? If no-one can give their points to anyone else, then trade has been ruled out by definition.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on "If You're Not a Holy Madman, You're Not Trying" · 2021-06-16T12:29:32.536Z · LW · GW

if you're not a holy madman, you're not trying

Another Insanity Wolf meme!

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Experiments with a random clock · 2021-06-13T20:30:19.718Z · LW · GW

Whatever works. I just have a rule: show up on time.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Am I anti-social if I get vaccinated now? · 2021-06-11T18:18:29.147Z · LW · GW

No. The value of getting vaccinated is unaffected by the ease of access to it. Sending it first to the places where is it hardest to distribute is inefficient: it burns resources that could have been better used. That would not be virtuous, but merely virtue theatre.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on How do you keep track of your own learning? · 2021-06-11T08:43:43.164Z · LW · GW

Do the thing that the learning was supposed to enable you to do. Introspection and reflection look at the work you put in, the resources spent, not the thing they were spent for. You can only observe where it got you to by doing the thing itself.

In mathematics, do the exercises. Do variations on the exercises. Prove the theorems you learned, without reference to the books.

If learning a language, use it: have conversations in it, read it, write in it.

In statistics, analyse published papers as if you were a referee vetting them for publication.

In programming, write software. Software that does stuff you want done rather than toy exercises.

And so on. Notice how well you are doing all this. That is the test of what you have learned.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Tracey Davis and the Prisoner of Azkaban - Part 3 · 2021-06-11T07:39:30.033Z · LW · GW

Invisibility Clock

I wonder what an Invisibility Clock does. Perhaps remain visible to its wearer while the wearer is invisible. But the following sentence suggests you meant "Invisibility Cloak".

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Often, enemies really are innately evil. · 2021-06-08T18:01:34.345Z · LW · GW

What I'm saying is that these categories may not map cleanly onto the messy reality of a real mind.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Often, enemies really are innately evil. · 2021-06-08T07:05:33.144Z · LW · GW

Not all minds do type checking.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Rationalists should meet Integral Theory · 2021-06-07T21:21:58.769Z · LW · GW

I've now read/watched a few of the sources linked to. The whole thing is pure story-telling. Not once does anyone talk about evidence. No-one talks about whether any of this is true. No-one talks about what any of this is useful for. No-one even talks about where all this stuff came from. I found a video of Ken Wilbur himself talking continuously for one and a half hours, and while I'm awestruck at the ability to do so, I am not at all awestruck by the content of it. I did not watch the whole thing, but I watched enough to decide not to.

Ken Wilbur may not be the official head of the movement, but he is its founder, source and at least unofficial guru. As the guru, so the school. I hear them talk and talk, while waiting for some sort of a point, but it never arrives.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Often, enemies really are innately evil. · 2021-06-07T20:38:54.969Z · LW · GW

"Bad" is, though.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Often, enemies really are innately evil. · 2021-06-07T20:28:58.849Z · LW · GW

Dragging people down is a strategy, not something terminal.

Caching strategies without a functioning cache invalidator turns them into terminal values.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Rationalists should meet Integral Theory · 2021-06-04T07:19:52.188Z · LW · GW

I read the PDF, and if this is a map, as it claims to be, it looks to me like a fantasy map of an imaginary world. But I look forward to reading whatever more you have to say about this to this audience.

BTW, the Google Doc "Book lists" that you linked is private. (now fixed)

BTW2, I actually upvoted this post. The downvoting isn't mine.

ETA: On reflection, I have withdrawn the upvote.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Which animals can suffer? · 2021-06-02T07:47:56.234Z · LW · GW

If an animal can learn to avoid pain (not just avoid it right now, but memorize what happened at given conditions and avoid these conditions), then the animal can suffer.

Is it any easier to determine if an animal is in "pain" than if it is "suffering"? The quotes are because I can't be sure what you mean by these words, which have a range of uses. "Pain" is sometimes broadened to mean the same as "suffering", and "suffering" broadened so far as to mean "not getting what one wanted."

How do other entities fit into this, such as plants, self-driving cars, and configurations in Conway's Life?

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on A Review and Summary of the Landmark Forum · 2021-05-29T13:17:22.871Z · LW · GW

More To Life does not make such a hard sell of recruitment as it seems Landmark does, and while it does ask for charitable donations, I recall that was not much of a hard sell either. I never had any pressure to take any of their advanced courses, although I have done several and found them valuable. That lack of pushiness may be a good thing from the point of view of the participants, but the inevitable result of not pursuing growth very hard is that it has not grown, and not pursuing donations very hard has not helped its finances. When I took their course back around 1992 there were 160 participants. These days, 40 is a lot, and of course covid has stopped all such things for more than a year, putting additional strain on the organisation.

I don’t want to speak beyond what I should, but if someone is interested in at least looking into More To Life, I would recommend not putting it off too long.

Its founders never wrote a book, but two of their senior trainers have in the last few years: “Lifeshocks: And how to love them”, by Sophie Sabbage and "Lifeshocks Out of the Blue: Learning from Your Life's Experiences", by Ann McMaster. ("Lifeshock" is a term coined by More To Life.) I have read the former, but having done the course, I know what I’m looking at when I read it. I don’t know how it comes across to people who haven’t.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on A Review and Summary of the Landmark Forum · 2021-05-27T20:42:51.211Z · LW · GW

That was a very interesting account of Landmark. I've known a couple of people who did the course, but this is more detailed than I had heard before.

I have not done Landmark, but I see a great many commonalities between it and a series of courses I have done, which were originally called "The Life Training", and about 20 years ago renamed itself "More To Life".

From the above account, I guess that a Landmark graduate encountering More To Life might dismiss it as "Landmark Lite". That might even be accurate, but given the apparent excesses of Landmark in certain ways, Landmark does not necessarily have the better of that comparison.

When its founders, Brad Brown and Roy Whitten, were in the process of putting together what would become The Life Training, they were both practicing psychologists, and they had noticed that half their clients had done est (Landmark's predecessor). So they went along to that course to see what it was all about, to be able to understand what their clients were talking about.. There were some things they agreed with and some they didn't, but it was an influence on their thinking. There were many other influences, including their religious background (they were both also Anglican priests). Back in the early 70's in Southern California you could hardly move for such things.

I did the Life Training in 1992, and some of their advanced courses in subsequent years, and it has been an enduring influence since. As much as, say, science fiction, mathematics, General Semantics, and the Sequences. It does not advertise and is reliant on word of mouth, although I have never myself tried to enrol anyone to take the course, or spoken in any depth about it. There is no-one I know well enough to recommend to them anything of this nature, and besides, I don't want the responsibility of turning someone's life upside down. In recent years I have also had doubts about how well the More To Life organisation is keeping alive the teaching that its founders developed since the death in 2007 of its senior founder, Brad Brown. I have not had much contact with it in that time beyond staying on their mailing list, but I have a sense of decline.

I don't wish to either recommend or disrecommend More To Life, but anyone considering Landmark might also consider this.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on The Practice & Virtue of Discernment · 2021-05-27T07:28:32.636Z · LW · GW

These questions seem intentionally crafted to cause intellectual chaos.

They are. That is what Oxford Union debates are for. (Not Oxford University Student Union, which is a different organisation.) They are a platform for buffoonery, strutting one's intellectual stuff, flamboyant point-scoring, lively tackling of hecklers, arguing any side of any question independently of one's own beliefs, and auditioning for a career in Parliament. Boris Johnson is a past president of the OU, a position which fitted him perfectly, and you can hear it in him every time you tune in to Prime Minister's Questions.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on We should probably buy ADA? · 2021-05-25T07:33:28.565Z · LW · GW

How does the promised transition of Ethereum to proof of stake affect the comparative ranking with Cardano? (I have some crypto, but am noob regarding the technical matters.)

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Utopic Nightmares · 2021-05-16T13:10:25.622Z · LW · GW

I'm not interested in the values of hypothetical aliens, especially those dreamt up only to provide imaginary counterexamples.

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Utopic Nightmares · 2021-05-16T10:54:33.150Z · LW · GW

The final chapter of "The Worm Ouroboros" has something to say of one failed utopia.

"All were silent awhile. Then the Lord Juss spake saying, "O Queen Sophonisba, hast thou looked ever, on a showery day in spring, upon the rainbow flung across earth and sky, and marked how all things of earth beyond it, trees, mountain-sides, and rivers, and fields, and woods, and homes of men, are transfigured by the colours that are in the bow?"

"Yes," she said, "and oft desired to reach them."

"We," said Juss, "have flown beyond the rainbow. And there we found no fabled land of heart's desire, but wet rain and wind only and the cold mountain-side. And our hearts are a-cold because of it."

The Queen said, "How old art thou, my Lord Juss, that thou speakest as an old man might speak?"

He answered, "I shall be thirty-three years old tomorrow, and that is young by the reckoning of men. None of us be old, and my brethren and Lord Brandoch Daha younger than I. Yet as old men may we now look forth on our lives, since the goodness thereof is gone by for us." And he said, "Thou O Queen canst scarcely know our grief; for to thee the blessed Gods gave thy heart's desire: youth for ever, and peace. Would they might give us our good gift, that should be youth for ever, and war; and unwaning strength and skill in arms. Would they might but give us our great enemies alive and whole again. For better it were we should run hazard again of utter destruction, than thus live out our lives like cattle fattening for the slaughter, or like silly garden plants."

Comment by Richard_Kennaway on Utopic Nightmares · 2021-05-16T09:13:59.271Z · LW · GW

If you ask people how much of an income would be "enough" for them, they generally pick (so I have heard) about 10 times their present income, whatever their present income is. This is the largest amount they can imagine being able to spend. They cannot imagine how anyone could need more and think they are wrong to want more.

To a homeless person on the streets, paradise is a house of their own and a steady job. To someone with the house and the job, paradise is a big house and a pile of cash to retire on. To someone with the big house and the pile, maybe some of them do just laze around, a mere two utopias up from living on the streets, especially if they're peasants with a huge lottery prize, but I think most of the people at that level do use their lives more purposefully. The utopia above that level might be daydreaming of being CEO of a major conglomerate, with underlings to do all the work, and spending their life flying around to parties on tropical islands in a private jet. But people at that level don't live like that either. Elon Musk is three or four utopias up from living on the streets, and he spends his time doing big things, not lazing in luxury.

When people imagine utopia, their imagination generally goes no further than imagining away the things in their life that they don't like, that they can imagine being gone, and imagining more of the things that they do like, that they can imagine having. And what they can imagine goes no further that what they see around them. But having more wealth and using it brings new possibilities, good and bad, that the poorer person never knew existed. The more you know, do, and experience, the more you discover there is to know, do, and experience.

The concept of a final "utopia" is a distraction. Reach the next utopia above ours and there will still be things worth doing. If the sequence does end somewhere, I hope that we climb up through as many utopias as it takes to find out.

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

I commented about this on a related post.

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

Here is a simple disproof of the control question.

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

Also, what Charlie Steiner said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See also.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You binarist, you!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now spoilered.

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

Added (reversed).

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



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

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

Tl;dr for last two comments:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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