Gun Control: How would we know? 2012-12-20T20:14:44.064Z · score: 11 (22 votes)
Empirical Sleep Time 2012-06-24T19:09:29.002Z · score: 3 (6 votes)
What deserves cryocide? 2012-04-19T23:24:24.233Z · score: 15 (20 votes)
Looking for some pieces of transhumanist fiction 2010-12-30T16:44:30.626Z · score: 2 (3 votes)


Comment by rlpowell on I Want To Live In A Baugruppe · 2017-03-17T15:19:14.073Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I'm interested in theory, but in practice I am attached to living in SF proper that may be hard to overcome.

I'll mention that in South Bay there are housing complexes that have multiple nearly-adjacent units in shared space, and it might work well to just pick such a complex and progressively have like-minded people take over more and more of it. Noticeably less awesome, but also noticeably easier.

Comment by rlpowell on Gun Control: How would we know? · 2012-12-24T08:58:06.853Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'm still reeling from ; I'm noticing how in other contexts "Why are we still talking about this we have better things to do?" is obvious, but it tends not to be for me in mind-killer contexts. Unfortunately, the impact of that point on my mind is such that I'm maybe not giving this thread the attention that all of your very well-thought out answers deserve, because I've suddenly stopped caring very much.

Regardless, though, y'all certainly have lived up to my expectations as polite, reasonable, rational debaters. Well done.

Comment by rlpowell on Gun Control: How would we know? · 2012-12-24T08:53:23.022Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Answering the question before reading on: I have believe in the past that more guns in the hands of ordinary, well-meaning means less violent crime, and less violent deaths, due to deterrence; "an armed society is a polite society".

Comment by rlpowell on Gun Control: How would we know? · 2012-12-24T08:51:02.348Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Heh. It was shorthand for "this is my pre-cached, non-rational response". I didn't really intend, or want, people to respond to that part, although the responses have been interesting.

Comment by rlpowell on Gun Control: How would we know? · 2012-12-24T08:38:52.378Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Oh, I like this. I like this a lot. The underlying attitude, I mean. I'm going see if I can't extrapolate a general policy from this, actually. Something like:

"In a world where there still exist children that live (or, more likely, die) on garbage heaps, the fact that we're still arguing about [whatever issue] implies to me that it's not a low hanging fruit, and we should just go work on those instead."

Comment by rlpowell on Gun Control: How would we know? · 2012-12-24T08:35:49.587Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

You're absolutely right; this isn't the low hanging fruit for human deaths.

Comment by rlpowell on Gun Control: How would we know? · 2012-12-24T08:32:06.940Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I don't have clear lines of retreat for the simple reason that to answer what I would do in each of those cases requires also knowing what sorts of actions make things better in each case. I mean, I can say something generic like "increase or decrease the availability of guns in linear proportion to how much they help", but what actually decreases availability of guns, without having terrible side effects? Like, does gun control as we currently understand it lead to only crazy/criminal/insane people owning guns?, because that seems suboptimal.

Having said that, I feel pretty confident that I'm willing to follow the data here; I think I've dismantled my ego need to support my historical position pretty well over the last few days.

Comment by rlpowell on Gun Control: How would we know? · 2012-12-24T08:26:09.060Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

In my limited-ish experience, some Canadian border towns (Niagra Falls, in particular) get pretty close, but you'll get lots of people on both sides that concentrate on their national identity.

Comment by rlpowell on Gun Control: How would we know? · 2012-12-24T08:22:50.594Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Those are both really good points, thanks.

While a school shooting is what got me thinking about this, I didn't mean to limit to that specifically; my pre-cached thought on mass murders is "if people in the crowd had been armed, the shooter would have been stopped quickly". I phrase it that way to emphasize that I have no real evidence there.

Spending time training people to help those around them, in general, as a possible solution, though ... I admit that I'd honestly never thought of that. It doesn't just apply to teachers, either; one can imagine corporate "sensitivity training" that included basic lessons in how to identify/help/console a coworker who seems to be having a rough time lately.

I'm not sure that we are culturally capable, even in theory, of identifying the actual impact of such a program, but it's a hell of an idea.

Comment by rlpowell on Gun Control: How would we know? · 2012-12-24T08:19:01.049Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

What I was going for is the difference between wanting a particular person dead (i.e. one's wife, one's boss, etc), in which case I'd assume that access to particular weapons is irrelevant because you'll find a way, vs. wanting to kill lots of people, or to kill lots of people in a particular category (i.e. school shooting mass murders, which as I implied is how I got on this topic). It seems at least possible that weapon limitations could help limit the latter, whereas if person X really wants person Y, specifically, dead, weapon limitations seem unlikely to be relevant.

Comment by rlpowell on Gun Control: How would we know? · 2012-12-23T17:28:06.847Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I don't know why Konkvistador posted so much of Yvain's article, or highlighted the particular parts of it that ey did, but the article itself goes into the research on this topic in some detail, which certainly hepls.


Comment by rlpowell on Gun Control: How would we know? · 2012-12-23T17:27:03.293Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

"No one else has tried this." -- I have, actually, which is why this post is here. :D

Thanks for the great link, that's the sort of thing I was wanting to see.


Comment by rlpowell on Gun Control: How would we know? · 2012-12-23T17:21:43.748Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Good lord. I thought I had set LW to tell me when someone replied; having not received any email I assumed this post had been ignored. 0__o


Comment by rlpowell on Empirical Sleep Time · 2012-06-25T05:46:39.566Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

That's exactly the sort of thing I had in mind, thank you! I'll try it.


Comment by rlpowell on Empirical Sleep Time · 2012-06-25T05:46:07.767Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

If only I had that option. :) If you know how to explain this to my 8 month olds, please do let me know. :)

I appreciate the info about the ideal there; I'm going to keep it in mind. But it's simply not reasonable for me right now.

My focus and attention are much better late at night, so I tend to stay up as late as I can stand, to get more done. Unfortunately, with babies around, both when I wake up in the morning and when in the evening I can start focusing on the things I want to work on are entirely random. Hence wanting to get as much effective time out of the late night as I can, hence the original question.

Obviously, performance does degrade if one stays up long enough; I simply want to have something better than "I'm passing out in my chair" as a hint that I should give up and go to bed.


Comment by rlpowell on Empirical Sleep Time · 2012-06-25T05:40:52.605Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

If you mean I should have put it in the "main" tab rather than the "discussion" tab: I thought that was, essentially, for coherent essays, rather than Q-and-A. If that's not what you meant, please explain?


Comment by rlpowell on Empirical Sleep Time · 2012-06-25T05:39:12.795Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Unless I'm misunderstanding, a lot of what the Zeo does is select a wake time that matches one's sleep cycle. I have twin infants; the time(s) at which I am awoken are entirely out of my control. :D Also, I don't use an alarm, and haven't in many years; as such I awake at what I assume is the right point of my sleep cycle (when allowed to wake naturally, which doesn't much happen anymore).

If I'm misunderstanding, feel free to elaborate; the copy on Amazon at least is pretty inspecific.

Generally speaking, though, I don't have a serious problem with sleep debt or effective sleep or anything; my main sleep problem is staying up so late that I'm ineffective and hence wasting my time, but I do generally get enough sleep to compensate so that I'm OK in the morning.


Comment by rlpowell on Empirical Sleep Time · 2012-06-25T05:34:17.127Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Given external evidence that my performance is reduced, I don't think getting myself to go to sleep will be a significant problem. My issue is usually the belief that I'm still getting useful stuff done, and actively resisting sleep on that basis; evidence to the contrary is something I think I would treat as real data.

Comment by rlpowell on What deserves cryocide? · 2012-04-25T12:11:24.699Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Of course, but I can help preserve the memories I choose by remembering them, reinforcing the connections. I dunno about Alzheimer's, but with, say, CJD, anything could disappear at any time, reinforced or not. It's not the same, to me.


Comment by rlpowell on What deserves cryocide? · 2012-04-22T18:23:20.627Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

FWIW, I have a lot of what you've described in terms of non-vivid sensory memories; the primary difference is that my factual memories ("I once did X", without sensory context) are very important to me, and I don't have the pain response.

Having said all of that, it may help you to know that my access to childhood memories has improved significantly after therapy, and this was not a therapy goal at all. If you are in the SF bay area, I would be ecstatic to recommend my therapist: (site looks much more newage then he ever behaved with me).

Comment by rlpowell on What deserves cryocide? · 2012-04-22T07:08:06.562Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

That's great stuff; thank you.

I think you're right that case-by-case analysis is almost certainly necessary, which I suppose isn't surprising once I think about it.

Also, prion diseases are creepy. -_-

Comment by rlpowell on What deserves cryocide? · 2012-04-21T07:30:59.823Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm 35, and I'm worst-casing this, and as I said Alzheimer's is, I presume, only one such thing to be worried about.

Comment by rlpowell on What deserves cryocide? · 2012-04-21T07:30:23.428Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I'm noticing that no-one has actually tried to answer half of the question: besides Alzheimer's, what sorts of degenerative brain awfulness is out there?

Comment by rlpowell on What deserves cryocide? · 2012-04-21T07:28:24.075Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I will keep the whole "don't get it banned for other people" thing in mind should this ever actually come up, but as I can't predict ultimate outcomes I can't make any promises.

Choosing not to eat or drink doesn't seem likely to provoke that response, especially if I only explain it as "I don't want to live through [whatever]".

I would make such a choice long before I was considered legally incompetent; the Russian roulette of "any day a fond memory could disappear" is to horrible for me; unlike other people in this thread, I consider my memories a central part of who I am.

Comment by rlpowell on What deserves cryocide? · 2012-04-21T07:24:19.648Z · score: 8 (10 votes) · LW · GW

If you think that morphine solves that, you have had the very good fortune to never experience severe pain. I've watched my father bellow in pain for hours while he was on several times the maximum recommended dose of every pain medication a hospital could provide.

We are very bad at controlling severe pain; any belief to the contrary is simply mythology believed by people who have never been there (I have as well, and I can assure you this is true).

My father was in severe pain, every day, for the last decade or so of his life. It happens to be the case that he wouldn't have chosen suicide were it offered, but what if he had wanted to choose that? WTF is wrong with our culture that a person in such a situation cannot get help? He certainly couldn't handle it himself; he could barely walk, and many days couldn't function at all. RomeoStevens is quite correct here.

Comment by rlpowell on What deserves cryocide? · 2012-04-20T00:41:42.041Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

That is, indeed, huge. With two babies and a full time job and some moonlighting, I don't think it's feasible for me to read it, but I appreciate the link none the less.

Comment by rlpowell on What deserves cryocide? · 2012-04-20T00:41:07.993Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks, good stuff, that's how I found the alcor article I link below.

Comment by rlpowell on What deserves cryocide? · 2012-04-20T00:38:43.724Z · score: 13 (13 votes) · LW · GW

WRT the actual method of cryocide, "lie down in a tub full of ice water" seems the obvious choice, but has important legal complications, so I'll point people to , which provides a legal alternative.

Comment by rlpowell on What deserves cryocide? · 2012-04-20T00:38:00.520Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

It says: 14.2 out of 100 men of European ethnicity who share Robin Powell's genotype will develop Alzheimer's Disease between the ages of 50 and 79.

Apparently, according to 23andMe, the normal incidence in european men in that age range is 7.2%, so it's "only" twice as likely.

Comment by rlpowell on What deserves cryocide? · 2012-04-19T23:57:13.676Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW · GW

As a side comment, part of the reason I asked is that 23andMe says my chance of Alzheimer's is 14+%. So it's something I really need to factor into my plans.


Comment by rlpowell on Epistemic Viciousness · 2011-11-02T04:58:08.432Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I wish there was a Krav Maga place within sensible distance of me. -_-

I'm actually thinking of going with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, AKA MMA training school, simply because it's close and at my current level of training (zero) anything is an improvement.


Comment by rlpowell on The human problem · 2011-10-31T21:09:26.365Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

The problem here is that, as evidenced by SL4 list posts, Phil is serious.

So basically, there is some super-morality or super-goal or something that is "better" by some standard than what humans have. Let's call it woogah. Phil is worried because we're going to make FAI that can't possibly learn/reach/achieve/understand woogah because it's based on human values.

As far as I can see, there are three options here:

  1. Phil values woogah, which means it's included in the space of human values, which means there's no problem.

  2. Phil does not value woogah, in which case we wouldn't be having this discussion because he wouldn't be worried about it.

  3. Phil thinks that there's some sort of fundamental/universal morality that makes woogah better than human values, even though woogah can't be reached from a human perspective, at all, ever. This is perhaps the most interesting option, except that there's no evidence, anywhere, that such a thing might exist. The is-ought problem does not appear to be solvable; we have only our own preferences out of which to make the future, because that's all we have and all we can have. We could create a mind that doesn't have our values, but the important question is: what would it have instead?


Comment by rlpowell on That Magical Click · 2011-01-01T02:53:15.846Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

That's a really good point.

I think if the only reason you're staying alive is to stop other people from being sad, you've got a psychological bug WRT valuing yourself for your own sake that you really need to work on, but that is (obviously) a personal value judgment. If that is the only reason, though, you're right, suicide is bad and cryo is as bad or worse.

I imagine that such a person will have a really shitty life whenever people close to them leave or die; sounds really depressing. I can only hope, for their sake, that such a person dies before their significant other(s).


Comment by rlpowell on Epistemic Viciousness · 2011-01-01T02:45:13.547Z · score: 13 (13 votes) · LW · GW

(way after the fact)

You know what? You are absolutely right that I'm spouting an untested theory. I have since stopped.

The problem is that I see no way to test either side; either what I said or the converse, which you seem to be asserting, which is that whatever comes out of MMA is basically optimal fighting technique.

The only test I can think of is to load up fighters that assert opposite sides of this, and are both highly trained in their respective arts and so on, on lots of PCP, and see who lives.

There are ... some practical and ethical problems there.

I do think, however, that neither of us get to spout either side of this issue and claim that we have a well-tested theory on our side. Having said that, I would say your side has more evidence at this time.


Comment by rlpowell on Looking for some pieces of transhumanist fiction · 2011-01-01T02:38:17.040Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It's on my list, actually; several friends have recommended it.

And now it is actually on the list. :)


Comment by rlpowell on Looking for some pieces of transhumanist fiction · 2010-12-31T17:13:07.813Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Torture doesn't actually bother me much at all. -_- The more I talk about this the more I think it's just me being weird.

I remember the Eaters in Consider Phlebas, but my only reaction to that episode was "why is this in this novel at all?" It served no purpose and could, and I think should, have been cut without leaving a gap.

That is exactly why it bothered me: it seemed to exist for the sole purpose of grossing me out, with no actual connection to the plot. I can deal with just about anything as long as it advances the plot.


Comment by rlpowell on Looking for some pieces of transhumanist fiction · 2010-12-31T07:03:09.792Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

What you mentioned there sounds perfectly fine and reasonable. I enjoy Terry Goodkind and Neal Asher, I'm hardly a lightweight in this respect normally. Perhaps I just have more issues with cannibalism and/or disgusting food than other people (the "disgusting food" part seems likely, actually).

I will take a look at them. Thanks.


Comment by rlpowell on Looking for some pieces of transhumanist fiction · 2010-12-31T06:59:31.142Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Yaaaaay! That's it. I had it in my Fictionwise account, it turns out. -_-

I think the reason I remember reading it online is that the Hugo nominee stories are distributed that way these days.


Comment by rlpowell on Looking for some pieces of transhumanist fiction · 2010-12-30T19:58:10.288Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I don't read Banks (see explanation at the page I linked to at the bottom of the post, if you care).

I'm pretty sure I'd remember if it was Vinge or Stross, but:

It's not anything at , and I've never read either of his collections.

Looking at ,there's a tiny chance it could be A Dry Martini, as I was at ConJose, but I would expect that to be food themed. It's not Cookie Monster. I've not read any of the other collections except True Names ... [checking] ... nope.


Comment by rlpowell on Looking for some pieces of transhumanist fiction · 2010-12-30T18:54:53.755Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW


Thank you so much! It's fantastic that it's by the MoPI dude.


Comment by rlpowell on That Magical Click · 2010-01-20T23:30:12.548Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

(Edit: after having written this entire giant thing, I notice you saying that this was just a "why are some people not interested in cryo" comment, whereas I very much am trying to change your mind. I don't like trying to change people's minds without warning (I thought we were having that sort of discussion, but apparently we aren't), so here's warning.)

But it seems that natural death seems like a good point to say "enough is enough." In other words, letting what's been given be enough.

You're aware that your life expectancy is about 4 times that of the people who built the pyramids, even the Pharoahs, right? That assertion seems to basically be slapping all of your ancestors in the face. "I don't care that you fought and died for me to have a longer, better life; you needn't have bothered, I'm happy to die whenever". Seriously: if natural life span is good enough for you, start playing russian roulette once a year around 20 years old; the odds are about right for early humans.

As a sort-of aside, I honestly don't see a lot of difference between "when I die is fine" and just committing suicide right now. Whatever it is that would stop you from committing suicide should also stop you from wanting to die at any point in the future.

I'm aware this is a minority view, but that doesn't necessarily make it any less sensible; insert historical examples of once-popular-but-wrong views here.

Most people who try to make all their beliefs fit with all their other beliefs, end up forcing some of the puzzle pieces into wrong-shaped holes.

Then they've failed at the actual task, which is to make all of your beliefs fit with reality.

When we get to human values, some of them REALLY ARE in conflict with others,

My values are part of reality. Some of them are more important than others. Some of them contradict each other. Knowing these things is part of what lining my beliefs up with reality means: if my map of reality doesn't include the fact that some of my values contradict, it's a pretty bad map.

You seem to have confused people who are trying to force their beliefs to line up with each other (an easy path to crazy, because you can make any belief line up with any other belief simply by inserting something crazy in the middle; it's all in your head after all) with people with people who are trying to force their beliefs to line up with reality. It's a very different process.

Part of reality is that one of my most dominant values, one so dominant that almost no other values touch its power, is the desire to keep existing and to keep the other people I care about existing. I'm aware that this is selfish, and my compromise is that if reviving me will use such resources that other people would starve to death or something, I don't want to be revived (and I believe my cryo documents specify this; or maybe not, it's kind of obvious, isn't it??). I don't have any difficulty lining up this value with the rest of my values; except for pretty landscapes, everything I value has come from other humans.

In some sense, I don't try to line this, or any other value, up with reality; I'm basically a moral skeptic. I have beliefs that are composed of both values ("death is bad") and statements about reality ("cryo has a better chance of saving me from death than cremation") such that the resulting belief ("cryo is good") is subservient to both matching up with reality (although I doubt anyone will come up with evidence that cryo is less likely to keep you alive than cremation) and my values, but having values and conforming my beliefs with reality are totally separate things.


Comment by rlpowell on That Magical Click · 2010-01-20T22:33:55.363Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

In some piece of fiction (I think it was Orion's Arm, but the closest I can find is and the reference to "the Herimann-Glauer-Yudkowski relation of inclusive retrospective obviousness") I saw the idea that one could order qualitatively-smarter things on the basis of what you're calling "clicks". Specifically, that if humans are level 1, then the next level above that is the level where if you handed the being the data on which our science is built, all the results would click immediately/be obvious.

I've seen it asserted that humans are essentially "Turing complete" with respect to intelligence; anything that can be understood by any intelligence can be understood by a non-broken human, given enough time and attention. I'm on the fence about that, frankly; there's a lot of stuff that I have real trouble understanding, despite being decently bright by most standards. But if there's such a thing as real quantitative (rather than qualitative) differences in intelligence, it seems to me that "clicks" are at the core of what such a thing would look like from the outside (not what it would be internally; no idea about that, of course).


Comment by rlpowell on The Unfinished Mystery of the Shangri-La Diet · 2009-04-15T03:58:03.428Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Other people have suggested similar things, but I'll take it a step farther: the issue may simply be fidelity of sensory input neurons, i.e. different things count as "having taste" for different people. I assure you, you could give me olive oil so lite that it glowed, and it would still have a very distinctive and strong taste to me.

This, I guess, is where the noseclip suggestion came from.

I have an (I think) better idea: "drink" the stuff by putting it in a (clean!) turkey baster, stick the turkey baster in the back of your throat, and squeeze. If you have a gag reflex problem, not so much, of course, but I'd sure be interested to find out how that works for people who have tried the diet and had it fail.


Comment by rlpowell on Epistemic Viciousness · 2009-04-08T19:16:03.429Z · score: 9 (13 votes) · LW · GW

This is sort-of true, but with one really, really big caveat that people seem to forget: any form of fighting that is controlled basically screws large portions of many styles.

If you go into an MMA tournament and deliberately break someone's arm, you aren't going to be asked back. Let alone if you break their neck. Furthermore, non-crazy martial artists don't even want to: there's too much respect for that. There are styles that are centered around causing maximum damage as quickly as possible, and they are entirely useless in MMA fights. You're never going to see a hard-style master being competitive in an MMA tournament, because 90% of what they know is irrelevant.