Posts

Roko's Shortform 2020-10-14T17:30:47.334Z · score: 8 (1 votes)
Covid-19 Points of Leverage, Travel Bans and Eradication 2020-03-19T09:08:28.846Z · score: 91 (39 votes)
Ubiquitous Far-Ultraviolet Light Could Control the Spread of Covid-19 and Other Pandemics 2020-03-18T12:44:42.756Z · score: 76 (33 votes)
$100 for the best article on efficient charty - the winner is ... 2010-12-12T15:02:06.007Z · score: 21 (21 votes)
$100 for the best article on efficient charity: the finalists 2010-12-07T21:15:31.102Z · score: 5 (6 votes)
$100 for the best article on efficient charity -- Submit your articles 2010-12-02T20:57:31.410Z · score: 5 (6 votes)
Superintelligent AI mentioned as a possible risk by Bill Gates 2010-11-28T11:51:50.475Z · score: 7 (8 votes)
$100 for the best article on efficient charity -- deadline Wednesday 1st December 2010-11-24T22:31:57.215Z · score: 16 (15 votes)
Competition to write the best stand-alone article on efficient charity 2010-11-21T16:57:35.003Z · score: 15 (22 votes)
Public Choice and the Altruist's Burden 2010-07-22T21:34:52.740Z · score: 25 (31 votes)
Politicians stymie human colonization of space to save make-work jobs 2010-07-18T12:57:47.388Z · score: 11 (20 votes)
Financial incentives don't get rid of bias? Prize for best answer. 2010-07-15T13:24:59.276Z · score: 3 (12 votes)
A proposal for a cryogenic grave for cryonics 2010-07-06T19:01:36.898Z · score: 21 (20 votes)
MWI, copies and probability 2010-06-25T16:46:08.379Z · score: 18 (22 votes)
Poll: What value extra copies? 2010-06-22T12:15:54.408Z · score: 5 (10 votes)
Aspergers Survey Re-results 2010-05-29T16:58:34.925Z · score: 8 (10 votes)
Shock Level 5: Big Worlds and Modal Realism 2010-05-25T23:19:44.391Z · score: 24 (41 votes)
The Tragedy of the Social Epistemology Commons 2010-05-21T12:42:38.103Z · score: 44 (57 votes)
The Social Coprocessor Model 2010-05-14T17:10:15.475Z · score: 22 (34 votes)
Aspergers Poll Results: LW is nerdier than the Math Olympiad? 2010-05-13T14:24:24.783Z · score: 14 (19 votes)
Do you have High-Functioning Asperger's Syndrome? 2010-05-10T23:55:45.936Z · score: 19 (22 votes)
What is missing from rationality? 2010-04-27T12:32:06.806Z · score: 19 (24 votes)
Report from Humanity+ UK 2010 2010-04-25T12:33:33.170Z · score: 8 (9 votes)
Ugh fields 2010-04-12T17:06:18.510Z · score: 208 (193 votes)
Anthropic answers to logical uncertainties? 2010-04-06T17:51:49.486Z · score: 11 (11 votes)
What is Rationality? 2010-04-01T20:14:09.309Z · score: 14 (15 votes)
David Pearce on Hedonic Moral realism 2010-02-03T17:27:31.982Z · score: 7 (13 votes)
Strong moral realism, meta-ethics and pseudo-questions. 2010-01-31T20:20:47.159Z · score: 18 (21 votes)
Simon Conway Morris: "Aliens are likely to look and behave like us". 2010-01-25T14:16:18.752Z · score: 2 (9 votes)
London meetup: "The Friendly AI Problem" 2010-01-19T23:35:47.131Z · score: 6 (7 votes)
Savulescu: "Genetically enhance humanity or face extinction" 2010-01-10T00:26:56.846Z · score: 4 (13 votes)
Max Tegmark on our place in history: "We're Not Insignificant After All" 2010-01-04T00:02:04.868Z · score: 18 (21 votes)
Help Roko become a better rationalist! 2009-12-02T08:23:37.643Z · score: -6 (16 votes)
11 core rationalist skills 2009-12-02T08:09:05.922Z · score: 51 (54 votes)
Being saner about gender and rationality 2009-07-20T07:17:13.855Z · score: 15 (69 votes)
How likely is a failure of nuclear deterrence? 2009-07-15T00:01:28.640Z · score: 7 (16 votes)
Our society lacks good self-preservation mechanisms 2009-07-12T09:26:23.365Z · score: 12 (23 votes)
The enemy within 2009-07-05T15:08:05.874Z · score: 19 (22 votes)
Richard Dawkins TV - Baloney Detection Kit video 2009-06-25T00:27:23.325Z · score: 1 (6 votes)
Shane Legg on prospect theory and computational finance 2009-06-21T17:57:09.235Z · score: 13 (16 votes)
Cascio in The Atlantic, more on cognitive enhancement as existential risk mitigation 2009-06-18T15:09:57.954Z · score: 20 (21 votes)
Intelligence enhancement as existential risk mitigation 2009-06-15T19:35:07.530Z · score: 17 (20 votes)
The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Truth About Morality and What To Do About It 2009-06-11T12:31:02.904Z · score: 37 (59 votes)
Expected futility for humans 2009-06-09T12:04:29.306Z · score: 11 (16 votes)
Bioconservative and biomoderate singularitarian positions 2009-06-02T13:19:04.275Z · score: 10 (15 votes)
Changing accepted public opinion and Skynet 2009-05-22T11:05:08.878Z · score: 15 (20 votes)
Rationality, Cryonics and Pascal's Wager 2009-04-08T20:28:48.644Z · score: 17 (21 votes)
Supporting the underdog is explained by Hanson’s Near/Far distinction 2009-04-05T20:22:02.593Z · score: 23 (28 votes)

Comments

Comment by roko on Have the lockdowns been worth it? · 2020-10-18T22:35:24.290Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · LW · GW

A spreadsheet model I made investigates the trade-off between lost life-years from covid-19 deaths versus lost life-years from reduced quality of life being locked down. You can make a copy of it and play with the various parameters.

The spreadsheet uses real data about the mortality risk from covid-19 and the population structure (life expectancy, population pyramid) for the USA.

With the parameters that I chose, lockdowns of 1.25 years destroy about 0.25 life-years per person on net.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1wBcHkt9i_4hGSXRrqurr82j-R_X03nyr_Eds6YLjkzc/

Comment by roko on The Solomonoff Prior is Malign · 2020-10-15T10:21:38.566Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · LW · GW

adding execution/memory constraints penalizes all hypothesis

In reality these constraints do exist, so the question of "what happens if you don't care about efficiency at all?" is really not important. In practice, efficiency is absolutely critical and everything that happens in AI is dominated by efficiency considerations.

I think that mesa-optimization will be a problem. It probably won't look like aliens living in the Game of Life though.

It'll look like an internal optimizer that just "decides" that the minds of the humans who created it are another part of the environment to be optimized for its not-correctly-aligned goal.

Comment by roko on Fermi Challenge: Trains and Air Cargo · 2020-10-14T18:32:29.669Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Related to this question, I discovered a new rule for Fermi estimates.

If you want to estimate the mean value of a lognormally distributed random variable, giving the middle order of magnitude will be wrong as these are skewed.

There is a simple rule for getting this right that I discovered: take your middle order of magnitude (i.e. if you think it's between 10 and 100, the middle is 10^1.5) and add 1.15 times the square of your estimate of the standard deviation in log-space. So in this case that's something 1.5 +1.15 × 0.5^2. Then do 10 to the power that. This gives you about 60 - twice the answer you would have gotten with the middle order of magnitude.

This applies to things like "how big is a country" and "how many miles of track is there for a country of a given size" which might both be lognormally distributed.

https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/LEntkjvDSxStdGN39/shortform?commentId=soxf4Ynakr7aSjM3m

Comment by roko on The Solomonoff Prior is Malign · 2020-10-14T17:49:29.850Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

It seems to me that using a combination of execution time, memory use and program length mostly kills this set of arguments.

Something like a game-of-life initial configuration that leads to the eventual evolution of intelligent game-of-life aliens who then strategically feed outputs into GoL in order to manipulate you may have very good complexity performance, but both the speed and memory are going to be pretty awful. The fixed cost in memory and execution steps of essentially simulating an entire universe is huge.

But yes, the pure complexity prior certainly has some perverse and unsettling properties.

EDIT: This is really a special case of Mesa-Optimizers being dangerous. (See, e.g. https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/XWPJfgBymBbL3jdFd/an-58-mesa-optimization-what-it-is-and-why-we-should-care). The set of dangerous Mesa-Optimizers is obviously bigger than just "simulated aliens" and even time- and space-efficient algorithms might run into them.

Comment by roko on Roko's Shortform · 2020-10-14T17:30:47.724Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

One weird trick for estimating the expectation of Lognormally distributed random variables:

If you have a variable X that you think is somewhere between 1 and 100 and is Lognormally distributed, you can model it as being a random variable with distribution ~ Lognormal(1,1) - that is, the logarithm has a distribution ~ Normal(1,1).

What is the expectation of X?

Naively, you might say that since the expectation of log(X) is 1, the expectation of X is 10^1, or 10. That makes sense, 10 is at the midpoint of 1 and 100 on a log scale.

This is wrong though. The chances of larger values dominate the expectation or average of X.

But how can you estimate that correction? It turns out that the rule you need is 10^(1 + 1.15*1^2) ≈ 141.

In general, if X ~ Lognormal(a, b) where we are working to base 10 rather than base e, this is the rule you need:

E(X) = 10^(a + 1.15*b^2)

The 1.15 is actually ln(10)/2.

For a product of several independent lognormals, you can just multiply these together, which means adding in the exponent. If you have 2 or 3 things which are all lognormal, the variance-associated corrections can easily add up to quite a lot.

Remember: add 1.15 times the sum of squares of log-variances!

Comment by roko on Fermi Challenge: Trains and Air Cargo · 2020-10-14T10:26:36.002Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

A country with trains might have the equivalent of 3-10 times the length of the country worth of train tracks, and countries are roughly 600-3000 miles across, with perhaps 10-100 countries with a lot of trains that are also not far below the 600 mile size. The geometric means are approximately 5.5vlength , 1350 miles, 30 countries. Multiply all of these and you get 222,750 miles.

Q1 Answer: 222,750 miles.

Post-hoc edit: If you take these numbers and do the right math on them, you get a more accurate answer. The right math for this kind of thing is not just to multiply the geometric means. You want to take 50 draws from a random variable that's the product of size S times length multiplier L, which are lognormally distributed. If you do that you get about 600,000. If you do it for 30, you get 346,000. So, if you use the numbers I gave with some actual math, it's 346,000. But I looked at the correct answer before deciding to bother to do the math.

Air freight is perhaps 10%-30% of passenger travel since I see more passenger planes at airports than freight. Passenger travel is easier to estimate. Say that each of 1,000,000,000 people travel twice per year by air. 15 people plus their baggage is one metric ton. 2 × 17% × 1,000,000,000 / 15 = 22,000,000 metric tons.

Q2 Answer: 22,000,000 metric tons per year for both years.

Comment by roko on A Personal (Interim) COVID-19 Postmortem · 2020-07-07T08:57:24.198Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

But what about the ~3 months of lockdown and massive Economic disruption that we had to go through? Don't you that that could have been avoided by closing our borders tightly in January? Do we have evidence to either confirm or exclude that now?

Comment by roko on A Personal (Interim) COVID-19 Postmortem · 2020-07-06T15:36:37.091Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

So do you think that the actual travel restrictions that happened were just a waste of time, and we should have had fully open borders?

Or do you think that the restrictions that we had (late and partial) were the optimal disease-fighting policy (again, neglecting political considerations)?

Comment by roko on A Personal (Interim) COVID-19 Postmortem · 2020-07-05T14:41:07.584Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yes it has always been clear to me that shutting down travel from one specific place where you think the disease is is not going to work.

Here in Europe, I have had to postpone personal vacations because the borders have indeed been shut and are only now reopening. Given that Europe actually did close its borders, both external and internal, do you think that it would have been a good idea to go ahead and do that in January, assuming away the political problem?

Comment by roko on A Personal (Interim) COVID-19 Postmortem · 2020-07-04T18:26:53.480Z · score: 11 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Good post David!

I applaud posts like this. It's a great tradition that we do them.

I believe the conversation about border closures was with me on Twitter?

Are we at a stage yet where we can answer counterfactual questions about what would have happened if all international flights had been shut off in January (Assuming away the political problem)?

Comment by roko on What is your internet search methodology ? · 2020-05-24T22:17:57.155Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It's probably only worth using ecosia if you think your time is virtually worthless. Tree planting is mostly a useless activity in the grand scheme of things, though one gets into a somewhat complicated calculation to show this.

Google claims there are 3*10^12 trees in the world, ecosia claims to have planted about 10^8. Trees are in an equilibrium with a bunch of stuff like atmospheric CO2 as well. Your personal contribution to the number of trees via ecosia is likely ~ a few trees (not clear whether they reach maturity though).

Do anything else useful with your time before this.

Comment by roko on The EMH Aten't Dead · 2020-05-22T19:58:01.781Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

There is a simple explanation to this: It turns out that being a good rationalist with access to an option trading account is actually an edge.

I also realized that the market was wrong and told friends to pull out of equities in mid-February. They didn't listen.

Comment by roko on Project Proposal: Gears of Aging · 2020-05-22T16:39:08.663Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

which animals?

Comment by roko on Covid-19 Points of Leverage, Travel Bans and Eradication · 2020-05-17T08:56:21.803Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

alarmist. Good Judgement's Dashboard has less than a 20% chance of over 350k deaths -

It's changed substantially since you wrote this BTW. It's now 54%

Comment by roko on Far-Ultraviolet Light in Public Spaces to Fight Pandemic is a Good Idea but Premature · 2020-04-24T13:15:36.910Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

yes!

https://www.biorxiv.org/

Comment by roko on Far-Ultraviolet Light in Public Spaces to Fight Pandemic is a Good Idea but Premature · 2020-04-21T17:13:20.243Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

There are definitely some materials that will resist it. There would be a one-off cost to replace materials, then mostly not much change.

Comment by roko on Alarm bell for the next pandemic, V.2 · 2020-04-19T08:04:05.746Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It would be very valuable to take a particular "Alarm" and see how many true positives, false positives, true negatives and false negatives it would have produced over the past 20 years.

Comment by roko on Far-Ultraviolet Light in Public Spaces to Fight Pandemic is a Good Idea but Premature · 2020-04-18T19:20:49.368Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW
sunburns

I don't think this would be a problem with sunburn unless your skin started peeling.

I generally only put a dressing on damaged skin if it's actually bleeding.

One should probably put a dressing on that in public places for general hygiene reasons anyway - both for your benefit and for the benefit of other people!

The total time x surface area of these events is probably not very large anyway, and in addition your cells are less affected due to their size, might be hidden under clothes, in shadow, etc etc etc. One would have to run the numbers on this and compare it to existing skin cancers from UVB - it could very plausibly be 3 orders of magnitude less.

abrasion from overuse

What's the time x surface area for people rubbing their own skin off? Probably not much!

Comment by roko on Discontinuous progress in history: an update · 2020-04-18T17:53:26.560Z · score: 8 (5 votes) · LW · GW

You should definitely try harder to connect with academic historians. They justify their existence by telling us they can help us learn from the past - this is a golden opportunity for it!

Comment by roko on Ubiquitous Far-Ultraviolet Light Could Control the Spread of Covid-19 and Other Pandemics · 2020-04-18T17:51:25.875Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

No, this Far-UVC stuff is very nasty. It is only ok for us on the outside because our skin stops it.

Exposing your blood to large amounts of Far-UVC is almost certainly going to lead to cancer IMO.

Comment by roko on Ubiquitous Far-Ultraviolet Light Could Control the Spread of Covid-19 and Other Pandemics · 2020-04-18T17:48:55.169Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

450nm blue light will not kill viruses in any reasonable time & power level.

Also, worry much less about fomites and much more about breathing the virus in.

Comment by roko on Far-Ultraviolet Light in Public Spaces to Fight Pandemic is a Good Idea but Premature · 2020-04-18T17:39:58.594Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

On Air vs Fomites: for this virus, a picture is emerging that fomites are basically irrelevant and air transmission via droplets or aerosols is what matters. But in general, there may be other pathogens where fomites are most important, e.g. norovirus and the like that spread via the fecal-oral route.

UV light can help with fomites but a full solution to fomite problems requires other changes, such as copper surfaces, better ways of making large amounts of very hygienic food, etc.

On ventilation: ventilation won't eliminate droplets from sick people, it will dilute them somewhat over time. Airplanes already have ventilation via a compressor.

Far-UVC can zap droplets that are in the air before they get from person A to person B, which I think is the big win here.

Comment by roko on Far-Ultraviolet Light in Public Spaces to Fight Pandemic is a Good Idea but Premature · 2020-04-18T15:31:13.343Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Great article, @Kirby Sikes, thanks for taking the time to research this!

Public funding into this kind of research should be expanded in general, so that by the time the next pandemic hits we can know better what technologies are safe and effective.

I strongly agree with this conclusion.

In terms of disagreement, I mainly disagree on the "Community level concerns" section rather than the "Safety concerns for individuals" section which is an excellent piece of scholarship IMO.

You should consider publishing this as a preprint on BioArXiv.

Comment by roko on Better name for "Heavy-tailedness of the world?" · 2020-04-18T14:15:26.543Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Aberrancy vs normalcy maybe?

Comment by roko on Far-Ultraviolet Light in Public Spaces to Fight Pandemic is a Good Idea but Premature · 2020-04-18T08:58:57.494Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, but global virus pandemics cost an amount of money that's almost unfathomably large, so hardening the indoor environment in certain places would likely be a trivial cost.

Comment by roko on Far-Ultraviolet Light in Public Spaces to Fight Pandemic is a Good Idea but Premature · 2020-04-18T08:57:11.239Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Can you give an example of what could cause that?

We usually cover damaged skin with a dressing because it can be harmed by other threats, so I'm struggling to think of something.

Comment by roko on Far-Ultraviolet Light in Public Spaces to Fight Pandemic is a Good Idea but Premature · 2020-04-18T08:54:29.847Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

dose of 2.8 kJ /cm^2.

A dose of 2.8 kJ /cm^2 is 28 MJ /m^2, so a 100W-luminous-power blue LED would decontaminate 10 square meters (a small room) in 280,000,000/100 = 2.8 million seconds = 30 days.

For decontamination to be useful I think it needs to happen inside of 15 minutes. Certainly not multiples of a month.

I think we can reject blue light because the required power for rapid decontamination is far in excess of what we can provide.

Comment by roko on Far-Ultraviolet Light in Public Spaces to Fight Pandemic is a Good Idea but Premature · 2020-04-18T08:44:31.054Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The shadowed spaces probably don't matter.

The volume of air you are trying to sterilize is the region around people's heads, and to a lesser extent the surfaces that people touch a lot.

Comment by roko on Discontinuous progress in history: an update · 2020-04-14T15:10:38.519Z · score: 10 (6 votes) · LW · GW

It would be interesting to find some more discontinuities that are unrelated to Western Civilization.

For example, what about Zheng He's treasure voyages or the Great Wall of China? Or Mesoamerican civilizations?

Could you systematically contact relevant historians to farm this work out?

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zheng_He

Comment by roko on Ubiquitous Far-Ultraviolet Light Could Control the Spread of Covid-19 and Other Pandemics · 2020-04-10T21:44:33.160Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Apparently those slides contradict the studies cited in my article.

I don't know which to believe. The rational action is to urgently run more experiments to assess the risk from 200nm-220nm band.

It would be really great if those slides had a references section.

Comment by roko on Covid-19 Points of Leverage, Travel Bans and Eradication · 2020-03-28T08:43:36.001Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

If the drugs save 80% of critically ill people from dying, then even if the remaining 20% overload the hospital system it might still be worth not trying to flatten the curve, just to avoid the economic damage from the lockdowns.

One would have to do a detailed analysis, but right now I seem to be getting the impression that the drugs actually aren't that good.

Anyway I still stand behind the point that there is likely to be a strategy bifurcation where it's best to either go pretty all-in on containment or go pretty all-in on herd immunity/deliberate infection, depending on just how bad it would be.

A 0.1% chance of death is worth about 1-3 months of lockdown, but age-weighting of deaths towards older people and lockdown damage skews this.

Without any change in the numbers I definitely still support containment.

Comment by roko on COVID-19 transmission: Are we overemphasizing touching rather than breathing? · 2020-03-26T23:24:26.932Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah but someone in the government would have to organise that, and they would take the blame if even one tiny thing went wrong.

Telling people to wash their hands is very safe and requires no effort. It is also helpful advice because some people actually have poor hand hygiene.

Comment by roko on Ubiquitous Far-Ultraviolet Light Could Control the Spread of Covid-19 and Other Pandemics · 2020-03-26T22:12:56.616Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

thanks!

Comment by roko on Ubiquitous Far-Ultraviolet Light Could Control the Spread of Covid-19 and Other Pandemics · 2020-03-26T22:11:19.415Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

As I said, Far-UVC from 200-220nm is supposed to be safe to humans because of our layer of dead skin. This is kind of the whole point of the post and is in the references.

254nm has less energy per photon but it penetrates further through skin, meaning that 254nm is definitely dangerous.

Comment by roko on Ubiquitous Far-Ultraviolet Light Could Control the Spread of Covid-19 and Other Pandemics · 2020-03-26T22:07:44.959Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

the number of photons per second per watt of power is a lot greater for UVC than for gamma radiation.

Comment by roko on COVID-19 transmission: Are we overemphasizing touching rather than breathing? · 2020-03-24T21:37:58.381Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW
Are we overemphasizing touching rather than breathing?

I suspect that governments are favoring actionable advice over accuracy.

The west in general ran out of masks due to government incompetence and complacency, therefore they told us that masks don't work, because telling people that masks work but oops we don't have any would contribute to panic and discontent.

The virus spreads mostly through the air, but people can't easily stop that, so they emphasize hand-washing because it is actionable and gives people something to do and thereby reduces their anxiety. It is probably also slightly helpful - people already don't wash their hands enough and a bit more hand-washing has a low cost.

It's happened before. In WWII, they told people to collect various materials for the war effort, at least some of which were totally useless.

Comment by roko on Covid-19 Points of Leverage, Travel Bans and Eradication · 2020-03-23T21:38:55.531Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

But I mean do we know what fraction of Wuhan Healthcare Workers were rendered useless by exhaustion and/or disease? It looked pretty bad, and I imagine it would have been much worse if the *whole* of China was going through the same thing as there would have been no outside help.

It's almost a shame that some country isn't doing mitigation because I would like to see just how much of a clusterf**k is turns into and how optimistic assumptions are crushed by reality. Of course in reality I don't want that because I think it would be very bad

Comment by roko on Covid-19 Points of Leverage, Travel Bans and Eradication · 2020-03-23T21:36:22.216Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

So the downside of this approach is that if everyone below 40 gets the disease you are entering a situation where the disease is all over the place, and it will be hard to keep the 40+ people fully safe. For example many older people need to be _in a hospital_ for various reasons, which is exactly where the virus is.

In addition you might be inflicting death and long-term disability on quite a lot of those under-40-year-olds.

And I think at the end of it, under 40s immune might not even be enough for herd immunity. You need something like 80% I think.

Comment by roko on Ubiquitous Far-Ultraviolet Light Could Control the Spread of Covid-19 and Other Pandemics · 2020-03-23T16:51:26.652Z · score: 8 (4 votes) · LW · GW

The idea of Far-UVC is that it is supposed to be safe due to the dead skin layer. Until we know for sure it's difficult to make the tradeoffs.


re (2), I suspect that melanin is not effective against UVC.

re (3), it's an interesting line of thought, but my suspicion is no.

Comment by roko on The Hammer and the Dance · 2020-03-22T19:13:09.244Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW
I would love to see a more quantitative analysis of what this dance would look like in a western country.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KfpeDzcsd1s

No, I mean being serious there is a danger here of being scared into not telling people the right answer because they won't listen. But that's wrong. Tell people the right answer, and then when 5 million people die, tell them to listen to you next time.

Comment by roko on Covid-19 Points of Leverage, Travel Bans and Eradication · 2020-03-21T19:35:15.113Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It depends on the test.

If you had an instant test with a very low false negative rate, and in quantities such that you could test every traveler, then there would be no reason to ban travel because you have created a situation where the virus cannot move, but using tests instead of banning human travel.

My impression is that you could do something almost as good with well-managed quarantine that lasted long enough for you to be sure about the test results.

Most travel is not worth the hassle of a 7-14-day quarantine though

Comment by roko on Ubiquitous Far-Ultraviolet Light Could Control the Spread of Covid-19 and Other Pandemics · 2020-03-21T16:28:00.544Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I agree with this, plus note that UVC is actually more dangerous than radiation for bacteria, because the number of photons per watt is significantly greater and the energy per photon is already enough to do damage.

Comment by roko on Ubiquitous Far-Ultraviolet Light Could Control the Spread of Covid-19 and Other Pandemics · 2020-03-21T16:26:33.467Z · score: 7 (4 votes) · LW · GW

no, definitely not. UVC is highly carcinogenic, and furthermore your lungs are a fractal which makes it impossible to shine light into all of the surface.

Comment by roko on March Coronavirus Open Thread · 2020-03-20T19:30:13.554Z · score: 5 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I agree with this analysis completely.

There is a strategy bifurcation: Either you lock down hard and contain/eradicate, or you just accept the losses and tell people to go on as normal, with isolation of the vulnerable.

The middle path is not favorable. You take both the human damage and the economic damage.

Comment by roko on Covid-19 Points of Leverage, Travel Bans and Eradication · 2020-03-20T08:16:00.553Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

If Wuhan was a worst case scenario, how come Italy has now overtaken it in deaths? (3400 Vs 3200)

Comment by roko on Covid-19 Points of Leverage, Travel Bans and Eradication · 2020-03-19T22:05:00.960Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

No, because the Chinese are being smart and driving the disease to 0. That's whey they dismantled their temporary hospitals.

Comment by roko on Covid-19 Points of Leverage, Travel Bans and Eradication · 2020-03-19T18:59:34.406Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Can we look at what happened in Wuhan, but subtract away any outside help they got?

Comment by roko on Covid-19 Points of Leverage, Travel Bans and Eradication · 2020-03-19T17:20:06.612Z · score: 7 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Even across a single country there will be variation in the effectiveness of local measures. When you have this dispersion in R0 what happens is most places go to 0 like you hoped, but some places don't.

Since that dispersion is unavoidable, you need a fractal system of borders - strong borders around countries, medium borders around states and cities, and weaker social distancing measures locally. Then the problem areas don't spread much, and they can be defeated in detail.

Look at the map of South korea after the superspreading event: https://imgur.com/l7RD345

98 cases in Seoul (pop: 10 million) and frickin' 4000 in Daegu (pop 2 million).

Comment by roko on Covid-19 Points of Leverage, Travel Bans and Eradication · 2020-03-19T17:15:57.276Z · score: 14 (8 votes) · LW · GW
true claims that are irrelevant to decision-making

I think these true claims are highly relevant even if there is a very high chance that none of the authorities will follow them.

Covid-19 is a comparatively mild test of humanity's capacity to fight dangerous diseases. It's not the "real thing", the disease X that could kill hundreds of millions of people or bring our civilization crashing down.

As such I think it's very important for rationalists to build up a track record of making the right calls.

My only regret is that I didn't express a strong opinion even earlier in January.

Comment by roko on Covid-19 Points of Leverage, Travel Bans and Eradication · 2020-03-19T15:17:25.272Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW
even though we'll run out of Remdesivir quickly, production will be ramping up. Chloroquine will be made available widely as well.

True, these things will limit the damage in lives if all goes well.

But I think there is a bit of a strategy bifurcation here: if the drugs allow the damage from covid-19 to be minimized to such an extent that we're happy with the "flatten" strategy - meaning a partial lockdown that helps to slow the virus down but still lets it go through the whole population, then at that point we should probably take some extra casualties and just allow the virus to go through the population as quickly as possible, thereby avoiding months and months of costly lockdowns.

If we are not happy with doing that, we should probably go for eradication.

I don't see a middle ground where a rational decision-maker would want to run the "flatten" strategy, though we may muddle through to there through indecision and incompetence.