Posts

Group rationality -- bridging the gap in a post-truth world 2016-11-18T13:44:40.118Z

Comments

Comment by rosyatrandom on Omicron Post #14 · 2022-01-14T10:17:17.176Z · LW · GW

I just wish the throat swabs didn't trigger my gag reflex.

 

I didn't even know I had a gag reflex until I took one, and it makes the swab pretty useless as I can't get near my tonsils without having to stop before I throw up.

Comment by rosyatrandom on What I'm about · 2022-01-10T15:48:06.042Z · LW · GW

Without other people, any existence would be

  • mind-numbingly dull
  • excruciatingly pointless
  • full of grief and loss; where are my loved-ones? My children?!
Comment by rosyatrandom on What I'm about · 2022-01-07T10:07:33.814Z · LW · GW

That's the only hope I have for escaping death,

Well... there is, of course, any variation of quantum immortality

Comment by rosyatrandom on What I'm about · 2022-01-07T10:05:31.603Z · LW · GW

I have a highly specific vision of a virtual reality heaven. Basically, I would be left alone for all eternity on my personal island

Funnily enough, you've just described, for me, a virtual reality hell

Comment by rosyatrandom on Omicron Post #12 · 2022-01-05T10:14:26.699Z · LW · GW

On quarantining/geo-boxing:

Even if the different regions have similar numbers of cases, is there an argument to be made for confinement in that it keeps variants more isolated?

Comment by rosyatrandom on Can solipsism be disproven? · 2021-12-06T10:27:44.626Z · LW · GW

Indeed, since there is no absolute distinction between the parts of reality that are 'you' and those that aren't, then solipsism isn't by itself a meaningful concept.

Comment by rosyatrandom on Covid 12/2: But Aside From That · 2021-12-03T11:45:29.861Z · LW · GW

I presume that such treatments are a threat to the narrative that people bring Covid-19 upon them by being irresponsible (read: sinful) and thus must make various Sacrifices to the Gods in the hopes of making this stop. Treatments aren’t a sacrifice, and aren’t a morality play. In addition, any mention of them, or any encouragement, would lead people to be less eager to get vaccinated or take other preventative measures, and we can’t have that.

I honestly have no idea what you think people are actually thinking here, except that it seems utterly ridiculous

Comment by rosyatrandom on Why don't our vaccines get updated to the delta spike protein? · 2021-11-26T15:02:32.718Z · LW · GW

It might be useful to draw up the happy pathway to developing mRNA vaccines against spike proteins, and examining all the issues along the way.

My (very limited). understanding:

  • Coronaviruses use spike proteins to enter target cells
  • The immune system can
    • learn to recognise these proteins as foreign, then
    • generate a response when it encounters them
  • mRNA vaccines can
    • cause host tissue to display identified spike proteins
    • initiate the same immune response mechanism above
  • Mutations to spike proteins can
    • occasionally increase/not-decrease virus fitness (transmissibility etc.)
    • evade existing immune responses as they are no longer recognised

So, what are the issues that prevent

  1. strain with distinct spike proteins identified
  2. mRNA vaccine altered to display new spike proteins and initiate immune recognition

Is it

  • identifying the new spike proteins
  • replicating them via mRNA with enough fidelity
  • getting the host cells to display them
  • getting the host immune system to identify them as foreign
  • getting the host immune system to mount a sufficient response
  • preventing false positives from arising, with the immune system targeting incorrect entities

Or other things?

On the face of it, it seems almost like a trivial problem... but this is biology, so of course it isn't.

Comment by rosyatrandom on Why don't our vaccines get updated to the delta spike protein? · 2021-11-26T14:05:38.859Z · LW · GW

It might be useful to draw up the happy pathway to developing mRNA vaccines against spike proteins, and examining all the issues along the way.

My (very limited). understanding:

  • Coronaviruses use spike proteins to enter target cells
  • The immune system can 
    • learn to recognise these proteins as foreign, then
    • generate a response when it encounters them
  • mRNA vaccines can 
    • cause host tissue to display identified spike proteins
    • initiate the same immune response mechanism above
  • Mutations to spike proteins can
    • occasionally increase/not-decrease virus fitness (transmissibility etc.)
    • evade existing immune responses as they are no longer recognised

So, what are the issues that prevent

  1. strain with distinct spike proteins identified
  2. mRNA vaccine altered to display new spike proteins and initiate immune recognition

Is it

  • identifying the new spike proteins
  • replicating them via mRNA with enough fidelity
  • getting the host cells to display them
  • getting the host immune system to identify them as foreign
  • getting the host immune system to mount a sufficient response
  • preventing false positives from arising, with the immune system targeting incorrect entities

Or other things?

On the face of it, it seems almost like a trivial problem... but this is biology, so of course it isn't.

Comment by rosyatrandom on Use Tools For What They're For · 2021-11-24T10:02:23.336Z · LW · GW

No, not really, Richard, but at least you tried. 

If you tried harder, you might notice that my contempt did not actually bring with it any malice or schadenfreude, or even any mention of 'horse dewormer', which seems to be the entirety of your take. So... yeah, very well done there.

Comment by rosyatrandom on Use Tools For What They're For · 2021-11-23T12:34:19.878Z · LW · GW

Let's face it -- anything promoted by reactionary-moron-targeting snake-oil grifters, especially those with 'MAGA' in their names, can basically be written off immediately with little loss of value.

Comment by rosyatrandom on The Emperor's New Clothes: a story of motivated stupidity · 2021-11-22T10:03:33.800Z · LW · GW

I would expect the situation to be analogous to any situation that requires large socio-economic upheaval but 'punishes' individuals who try to start the ball rolling.

cough Climate Change Crisis cough

Myopic vested interests and inertia will scupper the needed changes, even if almost everyone acknowledges their necessity in principle.

Comment by rosyatrandom on Self-Integrity and the Drowning Child · 2021-11-08T13:07:42.184Z · LW · GW

We don't live in a world of clear perceptions and communications about abstract, many-times-removed ethical trade-offs. 

We're humans, with a tiny little window focused on the trivia of our day-to-day lives, trying to talk to other humans doing the same thing.

Sometimes, we manage to rise a little above that, which is wonderful, and we need to work out how to co-ordinate civilisation better in that direction.

But mostly we are just stumbling about in the mud, and don't pretend that ridiculous sophist exercises in philosophical equivalence have any relation to real people and real experiences.

People don't often get the chance to participate in real, close, and meaningful ethical dilemmas. A quite-possibly-drowning-child that you can save by simply taking obvious physical action would be one of them. And anyone who refuses to take that action is scum.

Comment by rosyatrandom on Self-Integrity and the Drowning Child · 2021-11-01T10:05:02.114Z · LW · GW

Coming late to this, and having to skim because Real Life, but I would modify:

Keltham is being coherent, said the Watcher.

Keltham's decision is a valid one, given his own utility function (said the Watcher); you were wrong to try to talk him into thinking that he was making an objective error.

However, the Watcher said, Keltham's utility function is also awful and Keltham should be shunned for it by any being with decent ethics.

I really don't care how valid your utility function is, or how rational you think you are, if it turns you into the sort of person who has to weigh the possibility of a child dying against materialistic concerns. In that case, you've sacrificed your soul for the sake of optimising something worthless.

Comment by rosyatrandom on Do you think you are a Boltzmann brain? If not, why not? · 2021-10-19T10:25:27.831Z · LW · GW

There's probably only one kind of fundamental abstraction: can A represent B if you squint real hard? Can 'nothing' represent 'something'*? If so, perhaps that's all you need to get 'everything'.

 

* Like how you can build numbers up from the empty set: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Set-theoretic_definition_of_natural_numbers

Comment by rosyatrandom on Do you think you are a Boltzmann brain? If not, why not? · 2021-10-19T10:22:08.694Z · LW · GW

And strings/digits themselves are just a bunch of bits in fancy clothes.

At some point, years ago, I decided that reality was basically just 'nothing', endlessly abstracted, and what can you do? :_D

Comment by rosyatrandom on Do you think you are a Boltzmann brain? If not, why not? · 2021-10-18T09:07:20.580Z · LW · GW

I'm not sure we're dealing with quantifiable abstractions here

Comment by rosyatrandom on Do you think you are a Boltzmann brain? If not, why not? · 2021-10-18T09:06:43.851Z · LW · GW

Oh yes, 'real' is a fuzzy concept once you allow Boltzmann/Dust approaches. Things just... are, and can be represented by other things that also just are...

Comment by rosyatrandom on Do you think you are a Boltzmann brain? If not, why not? · 2021-10-15T09:04:20.686Z · LW · GW

Yes, and also no.

 

That is, there are Boltzmann Brains that represent my current mental state, and there are also 'normal' universes containing 'normal' brains doing the same thing, and there are probably a bunch of other things too.

All of them are me.

Comment by rosyatrandom on Thinking of our epistemically troubled friend · 2021-08-18T09:33:33.970Z · LW · GW

I was already going to respond simply that your friend believes these things because they want to believe them. They have to want to be rational.

As for me, I don't put rationality above all things, because I think it can be something you delude yourself into both idolising and thinking you're attaining; you can become something like a paperclip maximiser because you've convinced yourself it's logical. After having been something of a virulent atheist rationalist many years back, I realised that many of the people on my 'side' were in fact narrow-minded and often heartless gits, and some of the religious folk were warm, funny, and very open-minded; faith for them was more of a matter of how they wanted the world to be, a matter of aesthetics and drive.

So, basically, if your heart's not in the right place, who cares how rational/right you think you are? That certainly applies to your friend.

Comment by rosyatrandom on What weird treatments should people who lost their taste from COVID try? · 2021-08-02T08:27:31.033Z · LW · GW

I just used whatever I had on the shelf -- the only recommendation I would make is to go for strong, personally-familiar scents. Pine tree, cinnamon, lavender, jasmine etc.

Comment by rosyatrandom on Cognitive Impacts of Cocaine Use · 2021-08-02T08:25:43.373Z · LW · GW

My observation: cocaine turns normal people into arseholes and arseholes into even bigger arseholes.

My conclusion: I would never recommend it to anyone, and certainly never try it again.

Comment by rosyatrandom on What weird treatments should people who lost their taste from COVID try? · 2021-07-30T12:01:52.670Z · LW · GW

Sniffing strong essential oils seems to have helped me regain at least some of my smell and taste

Comment by rosyatrandom on How can there be a godless moral world ? · 2021-06-23T10:54:06.078Z · LW · GW

Before I say anything else, a couple of quotes from Pratchett's Night Watch:


'You haven't killed your wife,' he said. 'Anywhere. There is nowhere, however huge the multiverse is, where Sam Vimes as he is now has murdered Lady Sybil. But the theory is quite clear. It says that if anything could happen without breaking any physical laws, it must happen. But it hasn't.[...]'

 

"He wanted to go home. He wanted it so much that he trembled at the thought. But if the price of that was selling good men to the night, if the price was filling those graves, if the price was not fighting with every trick he knew … then it was too high.


It wasn’t a decision he was making, he knew that. It happened far below the levels of the brain where decisions were made. It was something built in. There was no universe, anywhere, where a Sam Vimes would give in on this, because if he did then he wouldn’t be Sam Vimes, anymore."

And that, basically, is it. We are who we are, and our minds, our personalities, our very natures, our sense of morality and aesthetics... you cannot simply swap them out without changing who we are. 

Being human, and being you-in-particular, entails certain ways of looking at things; morality is part of that. Is morality part of reality, then? It's part of you, and you are part of reality.

Comment by rosyatrandom on Biotech to make humans afraid of AI · 2021-06-18T10:57:12.073Z · LW · GW

Can we develop a drug that makes people afraid of people who suggest making drugs to make people afraid of something?

Comment by rosyatrandom on Can someone help me understand the arrow of time? · 2021-06-16T09:04:28.659Z · LW · GW

I'd say that the normal temporal dimension we impose on reality is related to, but not the same, as the kind of time that underpins our consciousness.

As you say, memory is a process, not a static snapshot; the act of being sentient cannot be usefully be broken down into a sequence of mind-states based at instances on the timeline.

But perhaps there can be something more like a dynamic snapshot; atomic slices of consciousness that span over normal time, and represent a combined state/process from which 'this moment, this thought, this feeling' can be abstracted. 

There's lots of ways to twist the kaleidoscope and interpret the underling structure, and they're all (of course!) related to each other

Comment by rosyatrandom on Why are young, healthy people eager to take the Covid-19 vaccine? · 2020-11-30T21:24:18.976Z · LW · GW

That wasn't an attack. It was a judgement.

Comment by rosyatrandom on Why are young, healthy people eager to take the Covid-19 vaccine? · 2020-11-23T11:56:31.456Z · LW · GW

they value safety of strangers higher than their own safety, and want to take the vaccine for the sake of all the people at risk in the society.

 

Quite apart from the actually low personal risk from taking a vaccine, why does this strike you as odd? This is perfectly normal and good human behaviour, and if you don't share it there is probably something quite a bit wrong with you.

Comment by rosyatrandom on Rationalists from the UK -- what are your thoughts on Dominic Cummings? · 2020-11-21T23:01:21.124Z · LW · GW

He's a smug little Tory shit who fucked around and got found out. 

That's my thoughts on him.

Comment by rosyatrandom on The point of a memory palace · 2020-06-24T09:30:10.266Z · LW · GW

That's basically lucid daydreaming, then?

Trying to do that reminded me of something I used to do as a kid: I would watch static on TV, and find myself constructing imagery from it. Usually, it would be like traveling over landscapes, or a rotating/panning view over some entity, and the quality of the visuals would be like line drawings.

The reason I remember that is because my mental visualisations have a very similar quality. After maybe a 'flash' of a fairly detailed scene -- or at least the suggestion of one -- it rapidly devolves into short-lived abstractions, and only where I'm mentally focusing.

Perhaps what I need is to look at some static again and see if it improves visualisation.


And I tried it. Didn't help :-/

Comment by rosyatrandom on The point of a memory palace · 2020-06-22T08:20:28.567Z · LW · GW

I have never taken the idea of attempting a memory palace seriously, as although I have a terrible, terrible, memory, I also am terrible at visualising things.

To me, using a memory palace to solve memory issues is like making a speedboat out of coconut husks to escape a desert island. Or, perhaps, the xkcd regex '2 problems' comic.

Comment by rosyatrandom on Can we always assign, and make sense of, subjective probabilities? · 2020-01-17T11:25:37.361Z · LW · GW

As, basically, an atheist, my response to the question 'Is there an all-powerful god?' is to ask: is that question actually meaningful? Is it akin to asking, 'is there an invisible pink unicorn?', or 'have you stopped beating your wife yet?'. To whit, a mu situation https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mu_(negative) .

There are a lot of different types of question, and probabilities don't seem to mean the same thing across them. Sometimes those questions are based on fuzzy semantics that require interpretation, and may not necessarily correspond to a possible state of affairs.

The possibility of a god existing doesn't equate, to me, to seeing if a possible thing exists or not, but rather whether the set of concepts are in any way possible. This is a question about the very nature of reality, and I'm pretty sure that reality is weird enough that the question falls far short of having any real meaning.

Comment by rosyatrandom on [deleted post] 2020-01-14T14:47:10.059Z

I'm glad someone else thinks so, too. I'd also go so far as to say that our notions of rationality are also largely aesthetic.

Comment by rosyatrandom on What is Success in an Immoral Maze? · 2020-01-10T14:16:34.768Z · LW · GW

Most of civilisation right now seems to be one giant gas-lighting immoral maze, where any effort to point out or mitigate the massive problems we have is sneered at or ignored.

Comment by rosyatrandom on Illness anxiety disorder: how to become more rational? · 2020-01-06T10:27:53.073Z · LW · GW
Yesterday, I managed to make an appointment for an ultrasound. However, I'm broke, and it turns out that the particular doctor is really expensive and has really bad reputation online

This is tangential, but part of the problem here is that your healthcare system is evil.

You should be able to see doctors for worries of this magnitude, and get the treatment/checks/referrals that you need, without this bullshit.

Comment by rosyatrandom on Simulation Argument: Why aren't ancestor simulations outnumbered by transhumans? · 2019-09-30T09:12:28.031Z · LW · GW

It's only a problem if you want it to be a problem.

There doesn't *need* to be anyone doing the interpreting, because all possible representations (and the interpreters/ees within) exist for free. I'm comfortable with that. There's no need to invoke special privilege to make reality more complicated, just because you want it to be. Fundamental reality *should* be simple, on some level, don't you think? The complexity is all internal.

Comment by rosyatrandom on Looking for answers about quantum immortality. · 2019-09-09T09:33:33.654Z · LW · GW

I used to be heavily into this area, and after succumbing somewhat to an 'it all adds up to normality' shoulder-shrugging, my feeling on this is that it's not just the 'environment' that is subject to radical changes, but the mind itself. It might be that there's a kind of mind-state attractor, by which minds tend to move along predictable paths and converge upon weirdness together. All of consciousness may, by different ways of looking at it, be considered as fragments of that endstate.


Comment by rosyatrandom on Peter Thiel/Eric Weinstein Transcript on Growth, Violence, and Stories · 2019-09-02T10:06:29.677Z · LW · GW
Even though they pin-point varies issues in society such as radical leftism

Oh, no, is LessWrong becoming one of those places?

Comment by rosyatrandom on Simulation Argument: Why aren't ancestor simulations outnumbered by transhumans? · 2019-08-29T09:57:05.757Z · LW · GW

I don't believe that that is a necessary assumption at all; the conscious state is still an abstractable representation, and if it maps to a dynamic process that itself can map to a temporally-connected collection of brain-states, then that is just more layers of abstraction.


The Boltzmann Brain could easily be not a brain-state representation, but a conscious-state representation.

Comment by rosyatrandom on Simulation Argument: Why aren't ancestor simulations outnumbered by transhumans? · 2019-08-23T13:37:19.237Z · LW · GW
In fact, why not discard physical reality entirely and rest in the thought of everything existing in abstract math space?

Well, yes, that's kind of the implication here. The minimum reality required to contain everything is, basically, nothing. Any more is entirely superfluous and reducible back to that bedrock.

Well, why not jump from a bridge for fun then? You will continue to exist no matter what you do.

You're talking about quantum immortality/suicide, and it's another corollary. Whether you find it ridiculous or not, I find the idea of an arbitrary 'physical' reality far more absurd.

Comment by rosyatrandom on Simulation Argument: Why aren't ancestor simulations outnumbered by transhumans? · 2019-08-23T09:08:06.492Z · LW · GW
Furthermore, if you're convinced by the simulation argument, why not believe that you're a Boltzmann brain instead using the same line of argument?

Why not both?

Confession: my entire metaphysical worldview has been strongly shaped by reading Greg Egan's Permutation City, so I kind of subscribe to something like the Dust Theory/Max Tegmark's Mathematical Multiverse.

To return to your question: if your mind can be construed as existing within many different contexts, be they simulations, Boltzmann Brains, or boring old meatsacks in cosmoses... does it make any sense to say 'I am in _this_ one'? You're in all of them, so long as those contexts can be said to 'exist'. And what is stopping them from 'existing'?

Comment by rosyatrandom on Quantum Mechanics, Nothing to do with Consciousness · 2018-11-28T03:15:54.696Z · LW · GW

If that sort of order is helpful to developing consciousness somewhere down the line, then that is the link

Comment by rosyatrandom on Boltzmann Brains, Simulations and self refuting hypothesis · 2018-11-28T03:14:12.273Z · LW · GW

Consistency seems to be the only real fallback

Comment by rosyatrandom on Boltzmann Brains, Simulations and self refuting hypothesis · 2018-11-27T06:39:30.331Z · LW · GW

Why is it assumed that we are only in *one* of these options? Does it not make no difference, to the point that you can say we exist in all of them to the extent that they are possible? That a BB may not coherently exist further down its own timestream doesn't matter at all, because temporal contiguity is not necessary.

Comment by rosyatrandom on Quantum Mechanics, Nothing to do with Consciousness · 2018-11-27T06:36:55.398Z · LW · GW

My quick take on it, via the Weak Anthropic Principle: consciousness is likely to be linked to QM, because we find ourselves in a QM-based world. If it's not *required*, odds are that QM-based realities are amenable
to containing conscious entities.

Comment by rosyatrandom on Help Me Refactor Myself I am Lost · 2018-11-09T04:23:33.994Z · LW · GW

> according to some personality tests I am an INTJ I don't know whether this is considered science but from what I've read about the personality type it's literally a copy paste of who am I so I believe in them .

I know this is tangential to your question, but that is _not_ a scientific/rational approach you are taking w.r.t. Myers-Briggs.

Comment by rosyatrandom on The Evil Genie Puzzle · 2018-07-25T09:24:31.742Z · LW · GW

Simple cheat solution:

"the Council of Genies has created new, updated rules which ban any unwanted side-effects for the person who makes the wish or any of their loved one's. "

I would argue that I love everyone, by default, especially people in this kind of cruel situation. Therefore this would count as an unwanted side-effect.

Comment by rosyatrandom on Attention! Financial scam targeting Less Wrong users · 2016-03-03T10:28:33.422Z · LW · GW

I'm not sure whether people thinking I was being serious means I was being too dry, or exactly dry enough :D

Comment by rosyatrandom on Attention! Financial scam targeting Less Wrong users · 2016-03-02T09:31:43.964Z · LW · GW

Surely, as rationalists, we should do a controlled test to determine if these are scams? This will require some blindly chosen users to respond in a variety of different ways, some of whom should go through with the possible scam, and report the results.

EDIT: I think it's time to come clean. No, I am not the scammer, but this post wasn't serious. I'm rather surprised anyone thought it could be, to be honest!

Comment by rosyatrandom on Hedonium's semantic problem · 2015-04-09T14:31:09.866Z · LW · GW

Even if the Boltzmann brain is completely chaotic, internally it contains the same structures/processes as whatever we find meaningful about Napoleon's brain. It is only by external context that we can claim that those things are now meaningful.

For us, that may be a valid distinction -- how can we talk to or interact with the brain? It's essentially in it's own world.

For the Boltzmann!Napoleon, the distinction isn't remotely meaningful. It's in it's own world, and it can't talk to us, interact with us, or know we are here.

Even if the internal processes of the brain are nothing more than randomised chance, it maps to 'real', causal processes in brains in 'valid' ontological contexts.

The question is -- do those contexts/brains exists, and is there any real distinction between the minds produced by Boltmann!Napoleon, Virtual!Napoleon, etc.? I would say yes, and no. Those contexts exist, and we are really discussing one mind that corresponds to all those processes .

As to why I would say that, it's essentially Greg Egan's Dust hypothesis/Max Tegmark's Mathematical Universe thing.