Comment by robert-miles on Coming Back to Biking · 2020-03-12T01:18:06.424Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Sorry if you know this, but it may be helpful to others: If cycling gives you joint pains that's sometimes because the bike isn't set up right for you. There are obviously different sizes of bike and also a few different adjustments that can be made to fit your particular dimensions, and not all of them are obvious or easy to get right, so it might be worth taking the bike to a good shop and asking them to set it up to fit you.

Comment by robert-miles on How does electricity work literally? · 2020-03-04T15:12:49.417Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

50-60Hz is not too low to be heard:

It's not really too high to be seen either, lights that flicker at mains frequency can be pretty unpleasant on the eyes, and give some people headaches.

Comment by robert-miles on How does electricity work literally? · 2020-03-04T14:02:16.483Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I recall seeing something about a very low-powered (and cheaply made) LED lightbulb which could never be turned off. With the light switch on, it was bright, and with the light switch off it was much more dim, but not actually off. It turned out this was because in certain common house wiring configurations, electrical field effects between nearby wires allow enough power through to light the bulb

Comment by robert-miles on How to Frame Negative Feedback as Forward-Facing Guidance · 2020-02-18T16:58:19.686Z · score: 8 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Level 2 is to automatically apply this technique to negative feedback directed at you.

Comment by robert-miles on Criticism as Entertainment · 2020-01-28T13:02:52.499Z · score: -1 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not sure the reason, but there doesn't seem to be the same kind of nitpicky "everything wrong with X" type criticism out there for games (or at least it's not as popular, because I haven't seen it). There are lots of 'this game sucks' reviews, but they don't tend to be a giant laundry list of tiny inconsistencies, design choices etc. I think games are held to a much much lower standard on things like plot, acting etc, and maybe the fact that everyone's experience of a game is unique makes this style of criticism less viable?

Comment by robert-miles on Have epistemic conditions always been this bad? · 2020-01-28T12:54:20.254Z · score: 15 (9 votes) · LW · GW

I didn't know the norm was different here. I like the old norm, for reasons that are a little hard to express. I guess political discussion is much more engaging than the stuff we usually talk about, so if it's allowed I fear it will become a large proportion of overall discussion, to the cost of other topics. I don't want people for whom Politics is their main hobby to feel like this place is of any interest at all to them. If such a person wanders across this place and finds a lot of discussion of theoretical computer science and decision theory, they will keep wandering. Having a load of discussions about what may or may not be wrong with people's Politics feels to me like calling up something that we don't know how to put down.

Comment by robert-miles on Why Do You Keep Having This Problem? · 2020-01-21T15:28:08.448Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

My first impression was that this is much too obvious to be worth talking about, but my second thought is that I've found it very useful to have these language based triggers that act as a "summon sapience" spell. Triggers that make you stop and think. They don't push you to make any particular choice, but just to notice that this is a situation where there is a choice to be made.

I wonder if it would be worth putting together a list of "words and phrases which, when you hear them, should make you stop and think". "Why does this keep happening?" belongs on that list for sure.

Comment by robert-miles on On the Chatham House Rule · 2020-01-14T16:31:43.876Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

This makes me think of the Creative Commons Licences. They're neatly named to show what is and isn't allowed. If I see that a piece of work is marked "CC BY-NC", I can easily see that it's published under a creative commons licence (CC), I'm free to share it as long as I give attribution so people know who the work is by (BY), and it's used only for non-commercial purposes (NC). Perhaps we could design a set of rules like that, with the various optional parts separated out and clearly labelled. "This event is CH NA-AL", or whatever.

Comment by robert-miles on Criticism as Entertainment · 2020-01-14T11:33:41.966Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Zero Punctuation is a good contrasting example, but from a different medium. Perhaps Jenny Nicholson is a good example for film criticism?

Comment by robert-miles on AI Alignment Open Thread August 2019 · 2019-08-27T16:27:40.529Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, nuclear power is a better analogy than weapons, but I think the two are linked, and the link itself may be a useful analogy, because risk/coordination is affected by the dual-use nature of some of the technologies.

One thing that makes non-proliferation difficult is that nations legitimately want nuclear facilities because they want to use nuclear power, but 'rogue states' that want to acquire nuclear weapons will also claim that this is their only goal. How do we know who really just wants power plants?

And power generation comes with its own risks. Can we trust everyone to take the right precautions, and if not, can we paternalistically restrict some organisations or states that we deem not capable enough to be trusted with the technology?

AI coordination probably has these kinds of problems to an even greater degree.

Comment by robert-miles on Stories of Summer Solstice · 2018-07-12T06:43:40.686Z · score: 7 (4 votes) · LW · GW

My experience of that sudden abrupt silence at the exact instant that the very last sliver of sun dropped below the horizon wasn't a hushed and numinous rapture, so much as it was like "Holy Shit, that WORKED? Did we really all just stop dead silent at the exact same moment?" I've been in orchestras that struggle to do that.

Comment by robert-miles on Idea: OpenAI Gym environments where the AI is a part of the environment · 2018-04-14T13:12:57.452Z · score: 9 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The "Whisky and Gold" environment is particularly relevant

Comment by robert-miles on The Steampunk Aesthetic · 2018-03-08T23:31:03.777Z · score: 17 (5 votes) · LW · GW

If you would like to see this lifestyle/philosophy lived out fully in real-time, you can watch Jamie Mantzel's YouTube channel:

He is living on an island in Panama, in a concrete building he built single-handedly, using a solar powered bulldozer he designed and built himself, collecting materials and components from the mainland on a solar-powered cargo boat he built himself, etc etc.

Comment by robert-miles on set of cards · 2018-03-07T16:37:46.375Z · score: 13 (3 votes) · LW · GW

This idea reminds me very much of Oblique Strategies. I guess the idea of that set of cards is to help with creative work - you draw a card when you're feeling stuck or uninspired, and the cards say something oblique like "not building a wall, making a brick", allowing you to give your thoughts a big shove in a pretty arbitrary direction in thought-space, which can push you out of a local optimum and get things moving again.

Inspired by this, I've thought about trying to do exactly what you're doing, and I can share the list I wrote down (with no claims whatsoever about their quality or suitability):

  • Compare the outside and inside views
  • Has this problem been solved before?
  • Is this the right problem to solve?
  • Have you tried the obvious things?
  • Ask someone else for obvious things to try
  • Your future self visits to tell you your plan failed. What went wrong?
  • Who would be better at this than you? Pick a specific person. What would they do?
  • Stop and make a list or two
  • Consider the opportunity costs
  • What are you avoiding thinking about?
  • Be more specific
  • Name three examples
  • Come up with a concrete example
  • Why are you drawing a card? Ask yourself "why?" to the response, 4 more times.
  • What would convince you that you are wrong?
  • What assumptions are you relying on?
  • What other problem is this most similar to?
  • Do a Fermi calculation
  • Go meta
  • Separate the parts of you that disagree, and let them have a conversation
  • Break the problem into smaller sub-problems
  • Take the contrapositive
Comment by robert-miles on Confidence Confusion · 2018-02-16T11:39:18.857Z · score: 18 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Perhaps the principled way is to try representing your probability to the same number of significant figures as a probability, as a log probability, as odds, and as log odds, and then present whichever option happens to fall closest to your true estimate :p

Comment by robert-miles on "Just Suffer Until It Passes" · 2018-02-12T13:26:25.992Z · score: 26 (9 votes) · LW · GW
a lot of problems aren't huge problems in-and-of themselves, and it's the flight to distraction and stimulation that compound the problem and create bad ongoing habits

This reminds me of a technique I use sometimes called Doing Nothing, described in this blog post, where instead of what you call 'flying to distraction' , you just don't do anything at all. You say "I don't have to write this paper right now, but I'm also not going to do anything else". You have the freedom to sit there blankly doing nothing at all for as long as you want, and generally it's not long before you stumble upon some new ideas or motivation to carry on.

Comment by robert-miles on Moloch's Toolbox (2/2) · 2017-11-20T12:22:11.011Z · score: 10 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The reason you can't just vote to change the voting system actually seems a lot simpler to me, based on my experience of the UK AV referendum. The system actually worked well enough to get the idea of switching to a basically sane voting system put to a public referendum. Then look at how that referendum goes. Who stands to benefit?

  • The public (but they don't know that)
  • The small political parties (who lack funding and are unable to mobilise large numbers of voters almost by definition)

Who stands to lose out

  • The major political parties (who have vast, well funded propaganda machines, good contacts, expertise etc)

So the red party told red voters that using a sane voting system would be bad for the red party, and the blue party told blue voters that using a sane voting system would be bad for the blue party, and the referendum came out as a 'No'.