Meetup : Edinburgh summer meetup 2012-07-09T13:31:26.337Z


Comment by scaphandre on Causal Reality vs Social Reality · 2019-06-25T00:39:06.926Z · LW · GW

I like this perspective.

I don't think society is blind to this distinction, but it is rarely drawn so cleanly.

In the world of social realities, there is well-known memetic protection advising away from being overdependent on the social reality alone. The children's tale "The Emperor's New Clothes" can be taken as an actor with social power asserting something bizarre, with many people entertaining/allowing this social reality, but this being obviously insufficient to change reality.

There are important inherently intersubjective concepts (like money, fun, and human value?) that seem more grounded in the social reality. That doesn't mean the all the power of the casual stance cannot be used in the study of these things there, but that their intersubjective social perspective origin should not be neglected.

Comment by scaphandre on Meetup : LessWrong Scotland · 2015-06-10T11:50:31.151Z · LW · GW

Sounds good!

Comment by scaphandre on Meetup : LessWrong Scotland · 2015-03-23T03:53:59.421Z · LW · GW

I considered finding a venue on Thomas Bayes Road, but perhaps that's a little too wanky.

Comment by scaphandre on Meetup : LessWrong Scotland · 2015-03-23T03:47:05.922Z · LW · GW

I'm up for going through Book 1 of the Rationality ebook.

I think the LW reading group is doing section A for that week.

Comment by scaphandre on Meetup : LessWrong Scotland · 2015-03-23T03:42:15.525Z · LW · GW

I'll be there!

I'll see if I can get Biblos to (quite rationally) offer us some free nachos...

Comment by scaphandre on Meetup : LessWrong Scotland · 2015-03-14T19:49:00.656Z · LW · GW

PM'd :)

Maybe get the 13:30 from Waverley?

It's an easy trip on the Glasgow Underground from near Queen St to Hillhead / Byres Rd.

Comment by scaphandre on Meetup : LessWrong Scotland · 2015-03-03T05:24:40.977Z · LW · GW


If anyone else is planning going through from Edinburgh, let me know.

Comment by scaphandre on Meetup : Glasgow (Scotland) Meetup · 2014-12-05T06:45:27.212Z · LW · GW

I also exist!

I saw this one too late, but I'm up for Edinburgh or central Glasgow in the future.

Comment by scaphandre on On Terminal Goals and Virtue Ethics · 2014-06-19T15:09:23.724Z · LW · GW

I think the 'terminal' in terminal goal means 'end of that thread of goals', as in a train terminus. Something that is wanted for the sake of itself.

It does not imply that you will terminate someone to achieve it.

Comment by scaphandre on Humans are utility monsters · 2013-08-27T16:32:58.479Z · LW · GW

Do you really think that is at all likely that a nematode might be capable of feeling more informed life-satisfaction than a human?

Comment by scaphandre on Humans are utility monsters · 2013-08-27T16:19:29.400Z · LW · GW

Nice post.

I disagree with the premise that humans are utility monsters, but I see what you are getting at.

I'm a little weary of the concept of a utility monster as it is easy to imagine and debate but I don't think it is immediately realistic.

I want my considerations of utility to be aware of possible future outcomes. If we imagine a concrete scenario like Zach's fantastic slave pyramid builders for an increasingly happy man, it seems obvious that there is something psychotic about an individual who could be made more happy by the senseless toil of other conscious beings. That is not the desired outcome of implementing their naive 'utilitarian ethics computer' genie.

I agree that that situation is repugnant. I think this is created from a poor implementation of their 'utilitarian ethics computer'.

Here's why humans in general are not repugnant: We are not using the suffering of others to increase solely our own happiness. At least not directly, deliberately and relentlessly.

I do agree that sometimes the life-satisfaction of squirrels is cut short by humans building dams (to follow your example).

Sometimes this could be morally right, sometimes not. Humans are imperfect utilitarians because we do a crappy job of counting the potential benefit and costs of all beings involved, with appropriate weights.

I don't see humans as repugnant monsters because I don't give humans infinitely more weight in this scaling.

Comment by scaphandre on To what degree do you model people as agents? · 2013-08-27T01:56:29.419Z · LW · GW

Agreed. But I'd place more value on searching for other agents when I know none.

From this thread we can see there is not a fixed concept of what meets the agent criteria. If I knew zero other agents, I'd be more inclined to spend more effort searching or perhaps be a little more flexible with my interpretation of what an agent might be.

Of course tricking yourself into solipsism or Wilson worship is a conceivable failure mode, but I don't think it's likely here.

Comment by scaphandre on To what degree do you model people as agents? · 2013-08-26T01:09:08.466Z · LW · GW

I imagine it is probably emotionally taxing and isolating for a human to model themselves as the only true agent in their world. That's a lot of responsibility, inefficient for big projects (where coordinating with other 'proper' agents might be particularly useful) and probably kinda lonely.

I am all for personal responsibility and recognise that acting to best improve the world is up to me. I am currently implemented in a great ape – a mammal with certain operating requirements. Part of my behaviour in the world has to include acting to keep that great ape working well.

To avoid exposing that silly ape with the emotional weight of the being the only responsible agent in the system and to allow more fun agent-agent interactions, it might make sense to lower the mental bar for those you would call PCs?

Comment by scaphandre on Rationality Quotes July 2013 · 2013-07-29T03:44:46.059Z · LW · GW

In your life, salsa dancing ability is definitely not the sole metric you wish to be optimizing for.

Things you presumably want to optimize might be something like personal happiness, bettering the world or wherever you find meaning.

If one truly wanted to drop resources into optimizing salsa ability, I'd imagine filming the dance floor from a few cellphones every week, uploading the video to youtube and paying a few experts on a salsa forum to give the dancers a rating and feedback would give a somewhat valid metric that you could go about tracking, quantifying and optimizing.

But I presume that that is not the primary goal of most salsa-goers. I guess that people go to salsa dancing nights because they are fun, good exercise and you get to socialize with a group of guys and girls who want to dance with girls and guys.

Can you try tracking happiness? Sure, why not. Have a prompt to record happiness appear at random intervals, or write a journal to note big highs or lows. Then questions like "do things like salsa increase my happiness more than things like video games" or whatever become addressable in a slightly more informed way.

I agree with you that your mind should not be on contrived proxy goals while you are salsa dancing. Better to be enjoying the salsa. But I disagree with the implication that because many metrics are tangential to the 'true' goal, careful measurement is flawed. It it still the fun/happiness that you care about, just now you are doing a smarter job of tracking it.

Comment by scaphandre on System Administrator Appreciation Day - Thanks Trike! · 2013-07-27T04:03:14.950Z · LW · GW

It can't be easy to adapt Reddit code to run like users here demand. Kudos to Matt et al at Trike Apps for the time and effort on having this site looking smart, working and improving the world.

Comment by scaphandre on Gains from trade: Slug versus Galaxy - how much would I give up to control you? · 2013-07-25T13:04:47.912Z · LW · GW

I recognise that argument, but surely we can use consideration of utility function in models in order to make progress along thinking about these things.

Even if we crudely imagine a typical human who happens to be ticking all Mazlow's boxes with access to happiness, meaning and resources tending to be more towards our (current...) normalised '1' and someone in solitary confinement, in psychological torture, tending towards our normalised '0' as a utility point – even then the concept is sufficiently coherent and grokable to allow use of these kinds of models?

Do you disagree? I am curious – I have encountered this point several times and I'd like to see where we differ.

Comment by scaphandre on Polyphasic Sleep Support Group · 2013-07-23T15:57:20.803Z · LW · GW

On requesting to join, using a gmail account, I get:

"You do not have permission to join this forum"

Comment by scaphandre on Writing Style and the Typical Mind Fallacy · 2013-07-14T17:42:55.762Z · LW · GW

And if you have a Luke and a Eliezer both on board, surely not everyone needs to their own lesson building, literature sweeps and narrative weaving (in the situations where those might be particularly useful).

Use comparative advantage?

Comment by scaphandre on Writing Style and the Typical Mind Fallacy · 2013-07-14T17:39:53.492Z · LW · GW

I generally prefer the more direct {lesson, evidence}. I have on several occasions thought that Luke has implemented this well.

But - I think we have evidence that EY is a particularly good writer of narrative. While also getting the content across. The epiphany hit is pretty sweet too.

Embedding lessons in stories (like the Blue and Green) makes the mind labile to their content and makes it easier to hang on to the memory and to retell to others. I imagine it comes at the cost to extra thinking and writing time to package lessons so.

Is that cost worth the marginal effort? I'm pretty sure the answer is 'sometimes'.

Comment by scaphandre on Exercise isn't necessarily good for people · 2013-06-10T00:45:48.620Z · LW · GW

I agree blood pressure is a generally a poor predictor of health or mortality.

This is often measured because it is easy to measure, rather than it being particularly informative.

Aelephant - that's a good paper with data on this. I needed to edit that link to for the pdf download to work.

Comment by scaphandre on Open thread, May 17-31 2013 · 2013-06-02T01:41:40.993Z · LW · GW

Rather than an e-cig, I currently occasionally use a portable vaporiser, into which I place hand-rolling tobacco.

It raises the raw tobacco to around 250*C, so nicotine is carried in gas and can be inhaled. Nothing is combusted. It's slightly larger than a AA battery and it looks like this.

This gives more nicotine hit, much less lung cancer than smoking and uses cheaper consumable materials than e-cig (you can buy hand-rolling tobacco everywhere, need less than depleting possibly-expensive e-cig cartridges).

It is also likely that this vaporising gives more MAOI hit than e-cig, contributing to both the high and addictive properties. Wiki link

Subjectively, I enjoy this more than than a e-cig. I have actively promoted the use to this device to friends to try to get them off cigarettes.

Comment by scaphandre on [LINK] Antibiotic seemingly improves decision-making in the presence of attractive women. · 2013-05-07T14:40:57.725Z · LW · GW


I don't know the mechanism of action, but it seems unlikely that this is acting as an antibiotic to have this effect.

More likely that minocycline is acting directly as a stimulant-blocker, dopamine-blocker or oxytocin-blocker.

Next experiment: examine the effect of stepped doses of modafinil and nasal administered oxytocin to see if they might 'rescue' the sweetness of the honey trap.

Comment by scaphandre on Want to have a CFAR instructor visit your LW group? · 2013-04-20T11:31:20.736Z · LW · GW

+1 for 'Cat is awesome'.

I was just speaking to her on Facebook. Couch space already being prepared in Edinburgh, UK!

Comment by scaphandre on Neuroscience basics for LessWrongians · 2012-08-20T07:55:45.569Z · LW · GW

Not quite a community forum, but I find comments at can be interesting.

There is also and - but they are both fledgling and susceptible to popsci.

Comment by scaphandre on Meetup : Edinburgh summer meetup · 2012-07-10T18:03:49.655Z · LW · GW

Cool. Don't worry - it seems there are several with similar interest in an Edinburgh meetup.

Once I'm back from the minicamp I would be keep to have another meetup, perhaps sometime 6-11th August.

When would you like to have one? I could imagine there might be interest in one before then. Why not be the agentyness you wish to see in the world? :)

I know a few coming on Friday - I will report back with any thoughts for future meetings.

Comment by scaphandre on Meetup : Edinburgh summer meetup · 2012-07-10T14:27:48.357Z · LW · GW

NOTE - slight change of plan.

It seems Aspen Bar and Grill is temporarily closed.

Instead - let's go to Biblos.

It's the restaurant on the corner of Chambers St and South Bridge. I've got us a big table upstairs booked, along with some nachos and 35% off all food.

See you there!

Comment by scaphandre on Meetup : Edinburgh summer meetup · 2012-07-10T04:35:10.169Z · LW · GW

Cool - I am away at the LW July minicamp in California, but I think I get back in Edinburgh around the 5th August.

I would be up for a meetup then.

Comment by scaphandre on Meetup : Edinburgh summer meetup · 2012-07-10T04:33:13.616Z · LW · GW

I am glad to see there is interest, even if you can't make this one.

I'm happy with outside 9-5, but I know some would-be regulars have other events on several weekday evenings. How about Sundays?

Aspen is unlikely to be too crowded on a Friday lunchtime and I think will be happy to have any custom from our group. I am open to alternatives, but it has the advantages of: public place, free entry, big group tables, bright, cheap-ish food and coffee, (hopefully) uncrowded.

I am happy to host in future, but I thought a public place is better to start with.

Comment by scaphandre on How does long-term use of caffeine affect productivity? · 2012-04-14T17:30:00.514Z · LW · GW

I'm aware that my caffeine use might have little benefit to total productivity over the course of a week.

I do attach value to using caffeine to choose to be less susceptible to tiredness for the next few hours.

Does that make sense?

Comment by scaphandre on Minicamps on Rationality and Awesomeness: May 11-13, June 22-24, and July 21-28 · 2012-03-30T03:01:51.451Z · LW · GW

Ah - I found some details for the Eliezer's potential Center for Modern Rationality:

Comment by scaphandre on Minicamps on Rationality and Awesomeness: May 11-13, June 22-24, and July 21-28 · 2012-03-30T02:42:58.965Z · LW · GW

Thanks for putting this together - I am intrigued by a mini-camp.

One of the questions in the application form is tickbox for "Interested in potentially working for CMR".

Could someone give some more detail on that question?

A google of " CMR" didn't give me anything useful.

Comment by scaphandre on Meetup : Edinburgh Weekday LW Meetup · 2011-09-21T11:23:52.340Z · LW · GW

Thanks for posting this, Sark. I'll be there.

See you there.