Rationality Quotes August 2014 2014-08-04T03:12:33.667Z
Pareto improvement in gym norms: Spread the word! 2013-07-28T02:04:48.937Z
Iterated Prisoner's Dilemma in software patents 2013-07-22T20:22:37.694Z
Meetup : Cincinnati: Financial optimisation 2013-07-18T04:37:29.652Z
Attempting to rescue logical positivism 2013-04-25T18:20:19.602Z
Meetup : Cincinnati near-Schelling day 2013-04-12T03:04:13.611Z
Meetup : Cincinnati February: Predictions 2013-02-14T04:01:18.709Z
Meetup : Ohio LessWrong in Cincinnati 2013-01-17T18:21:52.051Z
How to update P(x this week), upon hearing P(x next month) = 99.5%? 2013-01-04T21:09:23.413Z
How much to spend on a high-variance option? 2013-01-03T18:38:18.801Z
Meetup : Cincinnati/Columbus: Memorisation exercise (NB, time changed) 2012-11-14T20:38:32.516Z
Question about application of Bayes 2012-10-31T02:35:56.354Z
Request for sympathy; frustrated with Dark Side 2012-10-17T17:22:59.341Z
[LINK] Higher intelligence correlates with greater cooperation 2012-10-01T18:14:44.970Z
Completeness of simulations 2012-08-24T22:44:38.928Z
[META] Inbox icon behaving unexpectedly 2012-08-21T21:35:58.227Z
Idle speculation about anchoring and the Facebook IPO 2012-08-15T01:00:21.108Z
Meetup : Monthly Ohio meetup 2012-07-17T00:03:54.197Z
Ask an experimental physicist 2012-06-08T23:43:03.288Z
[Link] SMBC on choosing your simulations carefully 2012-06-06T17:41:58.133Z
A thought about Internet procrastination 2012-05-15T21:46:22.833Z
Faustian bargains and discounting 2012-01-29T05:10:43.655Z
Limits on self-optimisation 2012-01-20T21:58:05.271Z
Random thought: What is the optimal PD strategy under imperfect information? 2012-01-17T01:06:28.375Z
[Link] Cognitive bias modification as a treatment for depression 2011-11-19T05:11:20.102Z
A clever argument for buying lottery tickets 2011-11-04T23:19:08.225Z
Examples of mysteries explained *away* 2011-09-30T18:47:21.891Z
Bayesian exercise 2011-09-21T21:34:13.402Z
About addition and truth 2011-06-02T20:34:42.693Z
A poem for LessWrong 2011-01-28T20:40:54.215Z
META: Misleading error message on using wrong username 2010-11-27T22:07:52.104Z


Comment by RolfAndreassen on Why do patients in mental institutions get so little attention in the public discourse? · 2021-06-12T18:24:26.406Z · LW · GW

There's some sort of "out of sight, out of [their] minds" pun here.

That aside, isn't this the actual purpose of mental institutions? Like the attics of previous generations, they are where we stow people we prefer not to think about. And you have to admit they do that job very well indeed.

Comment by RolfAndreassen on Open thread, May 15 - May 21, 2017 · 2017-05-22T02:39:21.304Z · LW · GW

The free market can't be always pushing down the price of all goods (measured in other goods), that's a logical impossibility.

And yet that seems to be precisely what has happened.

However, supposing we hold tech progress and capital investment constant, then yes, we'll reach a steady state in which prices as a whole cannot fall further. But that still does not demonstrate that it is possible to maintain the sort of high-value-extraction transactions you outline for any great length of time. If the profit of bread is high then it will fall as people enter the market; this will, yes, slightly raise the profit of all other occupations, holding technology and capital steady. But the eventual equilibrium has all the profit rates being the same. Otherwise investment flows from the low-profit ones to the high-profit ones.

Comment by RolfAndreassen on Open thread, May 15 - May 21, 2017 · 2017-05-20T21:10:30.231Z · LW · GW

It seems like you have just reinvented the criticism "if you can extract almost all the value from each transaction (aka 'exploitation'), you will shortly be rich". Well, yes, but the point is that a market with competition generally prevents you from doing that. As someone pointed out, if you make 100 loaves then you have created 100 dollars of value; the question is how those 100 dollars are distributed. You construct an example where the baker is able to capture 99% of the value he created; good for him, but it relies on your construction of the price. Seeing the baker get rich, won't a bunch of other people decide that bread-making can't be that hard, make some loaves, and sell them for 98 cents? And so on until the price of bread is equal to the cost of production plus the smallest profit anyone is willing to live with, which in your example seems to be a penny.

Comment by RolfAndreassen on Open thread, Apr. 17 - Apr. 23, 2017 · 2017-04-24T01:34:02.366Z · LW · GW

It's disrespectful to people who don't have any food to eat, much less play with. Food is important, and this fact is easily forgotten.

Comment by RolfAndreassen on 5 Project Hufflepuff Suggestions for the Rationality Community · 2017-03-04T04:48:53.013Z · LW · GW

Idea 2 seems very vague. Can you give an example of how I would use it?

Comment by RolfAndreassen on A great articulation of why people find it hard to adopt a naturalistic worldview · 2017-02-15T04:03:22.201Z · LW · GW

There seems to be some implicit premise along these lines: "When contemplating the 'arrow of time' we should not consider anything that doesn't explicitly appear in the laws of physics." but I don't see any reason to accept such a premise.

I would say "explicitly or implicitly", and then it seems to me that we have every reason to accept that premise, because where the Devil else are you going to look? Noting that entropy does not appear in the laws of physics even implicitly; it's a heuristic, not a derived quantity.

If I talked to a bunch of theoretical physicists -- a group whose intuition in such things I think we should probably trust more than that of either experimentalists like you or pure mathematicians like me [...]

I would rather phrase it as "micro-level time violation is the cause"; we're talking about weak parity violation only because that's much more easily measured, and implies time violation. That aside, yes, I would expect a poll of theorists to find at least a sizable minority who think micro-level time violation is the cause of macro-scale time asymmetry.

Comment by RolfAndreassen on A great articulation of why people find it hard to adopt a naturalistic worldview · 2017-02-12T03:24:54.733Z · LW · GW

I don't understand what, if anything, you would consider non-arbitrary.

I'm not sure this is actually an important disagreement; I'm ok with dropping it if you want. However, you are the one who suggested that entropy could be calculated in a non-arbitrary way; but I don't think you've offered an example of such a calculation.

And why does that conflict with what anyone says about the "arrow of time"?

It conflicts with the notion that entropy is a good way to consider the problem; entropy is a non-full-information heuristic that doesn't appear in the actual laws of physics.

neither of us is a quantum field theorist

Well, I'm not a theorist, no. I do have a PhD in experimental particle physics. I will admit that the QFT classes tended to fry my brain like an egg, which is one reason I went experimental.

so far as I know no one knows how to do the QFT calculations on anything like the scale required to understand what's happening when you fry an egg

That's true. I do think, however, that an intuitive understanding is sufficient to get a grasp of how a microlevel asymmetry can become macrolevel.

Do you have any actual evidence that it's so?

It seems that such evidence would have to be in the form of simulations or calculations, since you can't very well turn off the weak interaction and see what happens when you fry an egg without it. I am not aware of any such calculation, no. But, again, there's such a thing as a qualitative insight.

Comment by RolfAndreassen on A great articulation of why people find it hard to adopt a naturalistic worldview · 2017-02-11T06:46:27.631Z · LW · GW

Yes, a notion of entropy depends on some state of knowledge and observational ability. But that doesn't mean it depends on picking ours in particular, and there are not-so-arbitrary ways to do it.

I don't understand how your suggested calculation is non-arbitrary; you still seem to be picking some criterion and then doing math. My point is that the laws of physics don't do any such thing; they just apply the exact laws of motion to the exact particle locations at every time step. Picking a different criterion for the entropy doesn't help - it's still not going to be what actually happens.

Would you like to make your argument a little more explicit? Do you think that weak parity violation is responsible for the familiar macro-scale time asymmetries everyone notices?

Sorry, I will try to be less brief. The known CP violation occurs, as you point out, in the weak force. (Side note: There is also a large source of CP violation somewhere else in the laws of physics, otherwise we wouldn't observe the matter/antimatter asymmetry we do. But that doesn't change the argument since it must occur at high energies.) When you fry an egg, the interactions are basically electric.

At high energies, the electric and weak force unite into the electroweak force. Now, when you do the quantum-field-theory math encapsulated in Feynman diagrams, you are integrating over all the possible paths from initial to final state; including ones with extremely energetic particles in the intermediate states. (This appears to violate the conservation of energy; the usual explanation given to students is that you can do this because of a Heisenberg uncertainty relation between energy and time. If the time is sufficiently short, "the universe is not aware" that energy conservation was violated. Personally I find this explanation immensely unsatisfying, but I don't understand the underlying math; so I'm taking this on faith. Anyway it's the same phenomenon that causes Hawking radiation around black holes.) Well, with high-energy intermediate states, you can get weak particles in your electric interactions; and then you get time asymmetry. To be sure this is a third-order effect; but then, frying an egg takes several seconds, which is an immense amount of time relative to the characteristic timescale of the weak force. (Which is only 'weak' by comparison to the strong nuclear force.)

Comment by RolfAndreassen on A great articulation of why people find it hard to adopt a naturalistic worldview · 2017-02-09T05:57:02.374Z · LW · GW

I keep coming back to entropy because the asymmetry in entropy is one of the things that needs explaining

Again, why bother with entropy as such? Just say "the initial conditions need explaining" and be done.

Given any criterion for distinguishing macrostates, you can (in principle) compute entropy relative to that criterion.

I do not understand how these two paragraphs are a response to what I said. Can you elucidate?

So far as I am aware, there is no reason to think that weak parity violation is responsible for the familiar macro-scale time asymmetries everyone notices.

Electroweak unification. That aside, the original problem was "there is no asymmetry in the laws of physics that can cause [macrolevel asymmetry]; Newton's and Maxwell's (and Einstein's) laws are the same in either time direction". And then we realised that yes, there is an asymmetry in the laws of physics. Well then, that solves the problem; what more do you want, unfried egg in your barley-that-used-to-be-beer?

Comment by RolfAndreassen on A great articulation of why people find it hard to adopt a naturalistic worldview · 2017-02-07T05:19:14.243Z · LW · GW

If weak parity violation really explains anything here, I don't see what. Do you have any grounds for suspecting that weak parity violation explains why we see a very dense low-entropy universe in one direction and a very sparse high-entropy universe in the other? Do you have any grounds for suspecting that weak parity violation explains why smashing an egg is easier than putting it together?

So first let me note that the weak parity violations cannot explain the observed matter/antimatter asymmetry; it follows that there is a source of CP violation that we don't know about, and hence also a large T violation.

You keep coming back to entropy, but I think this is the wrong way to look at it. Entropy is a probabilistic framework using multiple states of the same energy, that we apply when we don't have all the information; but the universe does, and is deterministically evolving from one specific state of high density, to another specific state of low density. Humans look at the final state and say "there are a lot of hypothetical states with different specific arrangements, which look a lot like this one; therefore it is high entropy"; but so what? You can't get there from the actual initial conditions; inaccessible states can have no physical effect, and ought to have no philosophical one either. Asking for an explanation of "the evolution from low to high entropy" is meaningless; better to ask for an explanation of where the initial conditions come from.

As for "what does that have to do with frying eggs", I opine that once you have identified a microlevel asymmetry, your work is done; there is no need to go through the tedious steps of finding how it produces a macrolevel asymmetry.

Comment by RolfAndreassen on A great articulation of why people find it hard to adopt a naturalistic worldview · 2017-02-06T06:22:48.107Z · LW · GW

Reversed spatial particles look the same to us as unreversed

No they don't; the neutrinos would change their handedness. (So would our amino acids, but that wouldn't affect their functioning, so far as I know, since everything else would as well.) And chiral-reversed neutrinos don't interact with anything. The laws of physics are in fact just about as P-violating as they can possibly be!

and the names "matter" and "anti-matter" are arbitrary

The names are arbitrary, but the functions aren't; matter consists of particles favoured by the CP asymmetry in the laws. Flip everything to antimatter and after a sufficiently long time you have matter again.

Comment by RolfAndreassen on A great articulation of why people find it hard to adopt a naturalistic worldview · 2017-02-06T06:17:52.817Z · LW · GW

This seems to me to be moving the goalposts, and additionally to put a lot of work into that word 'simple'. Suppose the symmetry was CPXYZT instead, would required the CPXYZ transformation still be simple? Is there a criterion for deciding other than "Sean Carroll thinks so"?

Comment by RolfAndreassen on A great articulation of why people find it hard to adopt a naturalistic worldview · 2017-02-05T10:36:37.413Z · LW · GW

Your second paragraph is simply incorrect: there is no known asymmetry in the laws of physics that might explain the arrow of time.

The laws of physics are CPT-invariant, as /u/gjm pointed out; CP symmetry is known to be broken; consequently T symmetry is also broken. The effect has been measured directly:

Comment by RolfAndreassen on A great articulation of why people find it hard to adopt a naturalistic worldview · 2017-02-05T10:30:36.988Z · LW · GW

[You can] reverse T without violating any laws providing you also (1) replace particles with antiparticles and (2) reverse all the spatial coordinates.

Well, yes, but we in fact have a universe with a bunch of particles in particular coordinates! Given the particles there is an arrow of time, that is, you can tell the difference between forward and backwards evolution.

Comment by RolfAndreassen on A great articulation of why people find it hard to adopt a naturalistic worldview · 2017-02-01T04:30:13.158Z · LW · GW

the arrow of time follows from the laws given a low entropy at the beginning of the universe.

That is not correct. Entropy is a statistical tendency over ensembles of states, which we use to make probabilistic predictions because we do not know the single true state with precision. But the actual physical world has exactly one state, and it evolves deterministically. There is no reason within Newton's and Maxwell's laws for the world to go from low to high entropy; it could just as well evolve in the other direction.

The correct answer is to notice that the laws of physics (which are not the same as the laws of Newton and Maxwell, or even Einstein, even though none of these names are forgotten) are not, in fact, symmetric in time, but have a T-symmetry-violating component accessible to sufficiently subtle experiment. Now you are done explaining the arrow of time.

Comment by RolfAndreassen on First impressions... · 2017-01-29T02:47:13.373Z · LW · GW

I think you are conflating "is overly rational and insufficiently pragmatic" with "doesn't do what ArisC wants, on demand, in the way they want it done".

Comment by RolfAndreassen on Link: Thoughts on the basic income pilot, with hedgehogs · 2016-05-21T04:58:04.728Z · LW · GW

All three things are quantised and should take 'fewer': Fewer pictures, fewer links, fewer words. Less is for things that aren't countable; less liquid, less wrong.

Comment by RolfAndreassen on Open Thread May 16 - May 22, 2016 · 2016-05-17T06:07:32.710Z · LW · GW

This is awesome. Please write Week Two.

Comment by RolfAndreassen on "3 Reasons It’s Irrational to Demand ‘Rationalism’ in Social Justice Activism" · 2016-03-30T04:44:53.400Z · LW · GW

To the extent that some SJWs seem to want to say “I really, really want X,” and leave their argument at that, then rationality is irrelevant to them.

Rationality is also irrelevant to my daughter, and for the same reason, as for example in this exchange:

Daughter: I want TV. Me: No more TV now. Daughter: But I want it!

This is rather a common 'argument' of hers; from the outside it looks like she models me as not having understood her preference, and tries to clarify the preference. To be sure, she has the excuse of being four.

Comment by RolfAndreassen on Open thread, Mar. 14 - Mar. 20, 2016 · 2016-03-19T21:21:53.849Z · LW · GW

Right, which is why I don't postulate a simulated universe as the explanation for existence.

Comment by RolfAndreassen on Open thread, Mar. 14 - Mar. 20, 2016 · 2016-03-16T05:40:25.792Z · LW · GW

Positing a hyper-powerful creative entity seems not that epistemologically reckless

How about epistemicologically useless? What caused your hyper-powerful creative entity? You haven't accomplished anything, you've just added another black box to your collection.

Comment by RolfAndreassen on Rationality Quotes Thread January 2016 · 2016-01-16T08:07:18.299Z · LW · GW

Cynical, but is it actually true? It seems to me that a lot of people are actually quite strongly committed to the cause of the environment, or defense against terrorists. They do not necessarily take effective action for those causes, but they would certainly vote for someone who signalled similar commitment.

Comment by RolfAndreassen on Open thread, Nov. 16 - Nov. 22, 2015 · 2015-11-17T06:23:18.806Z · LW · GW

How many slaves were there in the Paleolithic?

Comment by RolfAndreassen on Non-communicable Evidence · 2015-11-17T06:17:40.773Z · LW · GW

Unfortunately I cannot communicate why I think Christianity is true; it's a gestalt thing - it just makes sense, it can't be any other way in the light of all the evidence.

-- Any number of quite successful CEOs, neurosurgeons, writers.

Comment by RolfAndreassen on Open thread, Nov. 09 - Nov. 15, 2015 · 2015-11-14T21:10:54.826Z · LW · GW

Surgery to replace the bones with rubber things.

Oh wait, you had some constraints on the problem?

Comment by RolfAndreassen on Open thread, Nov. 09 - Nov. 15, 2015 · 2015-11-14T20:57:35.611Z · LW · GW

Downvoted for being a stream of consciousness.

Comment by RolfAndreassen on Fiction Considered Harmful · 2015-10-09T04:57:25.740Z · LW · GW

There are two options: Either we have terminal goals that include "having a good time" and "living enjoyable lives", so that a pleasant life is good in itself. Or else we have terminal goals that are finitely achievable, and when we've achieved them we should shut down humanity as useless. In the latter case, we can throw out anything that doesn't advance us towards those finite goals; not in the former.

I think one may hold the first belief without advocating wireheading, in that our terminal goal may be "enjoy a wide variety of pleasant things that exist outside your skull".

Comment by RolfAndreassen on Open Thread - Aug 24 - Aug 30 · 2015-08-31T05:30:37.456Z · LW · GW

Yes, but it may be true without being provable.

Comment by RolfAndreassen on Open Thread - Aug 24 - Aug 30 · 2015-08-31T05:30:20.207Z · LW · GW

But if it's true that there doesn't exist a proof that it halts, then it will run forever searching for one.

No; provable and true are not the same thing. It may be the case that the program halts, but it is nevertheless impossible to prove that it halts except by "run it and see", which doesn't count.

Comment by RolfAndreassen on AI, cure this fake person's fake cancer! · 2015-08-31T04:08:46.148Z · LW · GW

I admit I was using the word 'torture' rather loosely. However, unless the AI is explicitly instructed to use anesthesia before any cutting is done, I think we can safely replace it with "extended periods of very intense pain".

As a first pass at a way of safely boxing an AI, though, it's not bad at all. Please continue to develop the idea.

Comment by RolfAndreassen on AI, cure this fake person's fake cancer! · 2015-08-26T04:39:36.060Z · LW · GW

If the excellent simulation of a human with cancer is conscious, you've created a very good torture chamber, complete with mad vivisectionist AI.

Comment by RolfAndreassen on Bragging thread August 2015 · 2015-08-19T06:37:54.311Z · LW · GW

I sold out to the Dark Side in 2014. This was a move between industry jobs. But, actually, the new one is somewhat more in the direction of data-gathering than the old one was.

Comment by RolfAndreassen on Rationality Quotes Thread August 2015 · 2015-08-06T04:39:19.003Z · LW · GW

Nu, but a method that has already been used on five problems seems to be pretty good at converting problems into nails. :)

Comment by RolfAndreassen on Rationality Quotes Thread August 2015 · 2015-08-04T04:56:46.357Z · LW · GW

Not sure that generalises outside of math. Is it really better to solve one problem really, really thoroughly, than to have a good-enough fix for five? Depends on the problems, perhaps - but without knowing anything else, I'd rather solve five than one.

Comment by RolfAndreassen on Rationality Quotes Thread July 2015 · 2015-08-03T02:12:30.371Z · LW · GW

Bentham is using Enlightenment shorthand; he means "good, just, natural-law-following legislation". He's not talking about the actual sausages that we get from real legislatures.

Comment by RolfAndreassen on Bragging thread August 2015 · 2015-08-02T05:39:42.585Z · LW · GW

I got a new job! Which pays better than the old one.

Comment by RolfAndreassen on Open Thread, Jul. 27 - Aug 02, 2015 · 2015-07-29T02:15:28.979Z · LW · GW

I opine that you are equivocating between "tends to zero as N tends to infinity" and "is zero". This is usually a very bad idea.

Comment by RolfAndreassen on Open Thread, Jun. 29 - Jul. 5, 2015 · 2015-07-02T21:22:34.193Z · LW · GW

You take the probability of A not happening and multiply by the probability of B not happening. That gives you P(not A and not B). Then subtract that from 1. The probability of at least one of two events happening is just one minus the probability of neither happening.

In your example of 23% and 48%, the probability of getting at least one is

1 - (1-0.23)*(1-0.48) = 0.60.

Comment by RolfAndreassen on Can You Give Support or Feedback for My Program to Alleviate Poverty? · 2015-06-28T07:31:07.336Z · LW · GW

Repeating MattG's question: What do you expect to do that MTurk and the others don't already do? Why is your project an improvement on what already exists?

Comment by RolfAndreassen on Open Thread, Jun. 8 - Jun. 14, 2015 · 2015-06-09T05:16:28.264Z · LW · GW

Magical powers is not the same as powers divinely granted by a being that has your best interests at heart and whose servants have no agenda of their own. And, going genre savvy for a moment, the incident you refer to is pretty strong evidence that Mellie's powers tend to the less-luminous side.

Comment by RolfAndreassen on The lymphatic system is found to connect to the Central Nervous System · 2015-06-06T04:29:08.306Z · LW · GW


The lymph node is connected to the... central nervous system! The central nervous system is connected to the... brain lobes! The brain lobes are connected to the... Descartian ghost! Doing the consciousness dance!

Comment by RolfAndreassen on Is Determinism A Special Case Of Randomness? · 2015-05-04T02:58:58.712Z · LW · GW

If mathematicians measure randomness with probability, then there must be some things that have a 100% occurrence probability

Er... what? I think you need to state your train of thought in more detail; at the moment it doesn't seem precise enough to engage with.

Comment by RolfAndreassen on High impact from low impact · 2015-04-18T03:56:02.469Z · LW · GW

Therefore it is reduced impact to output the correct x-coordinates, so I shall.

This seems to me to be a weak point in the reasoning. The AI must surely assign some nonzero probability to our getting the right y-coordinate through some other channel? In fact, why are you telling the X AI about Y at all? It seems strictly simpler just to ask it for the X coordinate.

Comment by RolfAndreassen on Even better cryonics – because who needs nanites anyway? · 2015-04-09T04:46:32.920Z · LW · GW

I'll observe that cold vessels fail gradually; pressure vessels may fail catastrophically.

Comment by RolfAndreassen on Open thread, Apr. 01 - Apr. 05, 2015 · 2015-04-03T03:40:52.174Z · LW · GW

There may be a better one; Moldbug's financial ideas are spread over so many words that I gave up on finding the perfect link and just posted one that at least gestures in the right direction.

Comment by RolfAndreassen on Open thread, Apr. 01 - Apr. 05, 2015 · 2015-04-01T20:26:36.973Z · LW · GW

On the assumption that there's some overlap between LW and readers of Mencius Moldbug, this report on how to improve the monetary system, commissioned by the government of Iceland, might be interesting. It seems the author has been reading some Moldbug; his favoured suggestion, the "Sovereign Money Proposal", is closely related to Moldbug's suggestion that fractional-reserve banking with a lender of last resort might just as well be replaced with a sovereign lender of first resort, and banks that do not issue demand deposits.

Comment by RolfAndreassen on Open thread, Mar. 16 - Mar. 22, 2015 · 2015-03-17T03:50:37.974Z · LW · GW

None currently known. But I suggest that this is not a very high-priority problem at the moment; if you solve the more pressing ones, you'll have literally billions of years to figure out an escape path from the universe.

Comment by RolfAndreassen on Money threshold Trigger Action Patterns · 2015-02-20T05:44:01.474Z · LW · GW

instead people quietly assume that fair is each paying ~1/n, which of course completely fails utilitarian standards.

Indeed, every utilitarian must necessarily love the thought of giving people an incentive to lie about their wealth - alternatively, to produce their tax returns - every time a restaurant bill is to be split.

Comment by RolfAndreassen on Open thread, Feb. 16 - Feb. 22, 2015 · 2015-02-18T21:38:07.048Z · LW · GW

The supply of IQ-145 partners is limited. That aside, I don't think I understand your point.

Comment by RolfAndreassen on Innate Mathematical Ability · 2015-02-18T20:55:50.777Z · LW · GW

Yep, I also got this.