A basic probability question 2019-08-23T07:13:10.995Z · score: 9 (1 votes)
Inspection Paradox as a Driver of Group Separation 2019-08-17T21:47:35.812Z · score: 31 (13 votes)
Religion as Goodhart 2019-07-08T00:38:36.852Z · score: 21 (8 votes)
Does the Higgs-boson exist? 2019-05-23T01:53:21.580Z · score: 6 (9 votes)
A Numerical Model of View Clusters: Results 2019-04-14T04:21:00.947Z · score: 18 (6 votes)
Quantitative Philosophy: Why Simulate Ideas Numerically? 2019-04-14T03:53:11.926Z · score: 23 (12 votes)
Boeing 737 MAX MCAS as an agent corrigibility failure 2019-03-16T01:46:44.455Z · score: 50 (23 votes)
To understand, study edge cases 2019-03-02T21:18:41.198Z · score: 27 (11 votes)
How to notice being mind-hacked 2019-02-02T23:13:48.812Z · score: 16 (8 votes)
Electrons don’t think (or suffer) 2019-01-02T16:27:13.159Z · score: 5 (7 votes)
Sabine "Bee" Hossenfelder (and Robin Hanson) on How to fix Academia with Prediction Markets 2018-12-16T06:37:13.623Z · score: 11 (3 votes)
Aligned AI, The Scientist 2018-11-12T06:36:30.972Z · score: 12 (3 votes)
Logical Counterfactuals are low-res 2018-10-15T03:36:32.380Z · score: 22 (8 votes)
Decisions are not about changing the world, they are about learning what world you live in 2018-07-28T08:41:26.465Z · score: 30 (17 votes)
Probability is a model, frequency is an observation: Why both halfers and thirders are correct in the Sleeping Beauty problem. 2018-07-12T06:52:19.440Z · score: 24 (12 votes)
The Fermi Paradox: What did Sandberg, Drexler and Ord Really Dissolve? 2018-07-08T21:18:20.358Z · score: 47 (20 votes)
Wirehead your Chickens 2018-06-20T05:49:29.344Z · score: 72 (44 votes)
Order from Randomness: Ordering the Universe of Random Numbers 2018-06-19T05:37:42.404Z · score: 16 (5 votes)
Physics has laws, the Universe might not 2018-06-09T05:33:29.122Z · score: 28 (14 votes)
[LINK] The Bayesian Second Law of Thermodynamics 2015-08-12T16:52:48.556Z · score: 8 (9 votes)
Philosophy professors fail on basic philosophy problems 2015-07-15T18:41:06.473Z · score: 16 (21 votes)
Agency is bugs and uncertainty 2015-06-06T04:53:19.307Z · score: 10 (17 votes)
A simple exercise in rationality: rephrase an objective statement as subjective and explore the caveats 2015-04-18T23:46:49.750Z · score: 19 (21 votes)
[LINK] Scott Adam's "Rationality Engine". Part III: Assisted Dying 2015-04-02T16:55:29.684Z · score: 7 (8 votes)
In memory of Leonard Nimoy, most famous for playing the (straw) rationalist Spock, what are your top 3 ST:TOS episodes with him? 2015-02-27T20:57:19.777Z · score: 10 (15 votes)
We live in an unbreakable simulation: a mathematical proof. 2015-02-09T04:01:48.531Z · score: -31 (42 votes)
Calibrating your probability estimates of world events: Russia vs Ukraine, 6 months later. 2014-08-28T23:37:06.430Z · score: 19 (19 votes)
[LINK] Could a Quantum Computer Have Subjective Experience? 2014-08-26T18:55:43.420Z · score: 16 (17 votes)
[LINK] Physicist Carlo Rovelli on Modern Physics Research 2014-08-22T21:46:01.254Z · score: 6 (11 votes)
[LINK] "Harry Potter And The Cryptocurrency of Stars" 2014-08-05T20:57:27.644Z · score: 2 (4 votes)
[LINK] Claustrum Stimulation Temporarily Turns Off Consciousness in an otherwise Awake Patient 2014-07-04T20:00:48.176Z · score: 37 (37 votes)
[LINK] Why Talk to Philosophers: Physicist Sean Carroll Discusses "Common Misunderstandings" about Philosophy 2014-06-23T19:09:54.047Z · score: 10 (12 votes)
[LINK] Scott Aaronson on Google, Breaking Circularity and Eigenmorality 2014-06-19T20:17:14.063Z · score: 20 (20 votes)
List a few posts in Main and/or Discussion which actually made you change your mind 2014-06-13T02:42:59.433Z · score: 16 (16 votes)
Mathematics as a lossy compression algorithm gone wild 2014-06-06T23:53:46.887Z · score: 39 (41 votes)
Reflective Mini-Tasking against Procrastination 2014-06-06T00:20:30.692Z · score: 17 (17 votes)
[LINK] No Boltzmann Brains in an Empty Expanding Universe 2014-05-08T00:37:38.525Z · score: 9 (11 votes)
[LINK] Sean Carroll Against Afterlife 2014-05-07T21:47:37.752Z · score: 5 (9 votes)
[LINK] Sean Carrol's reflections on his debate with WL Craig on "God and Cosmology" 2014-02-25T00:56:34.368Z · score: 8 (8 votes)
Are you a virtue ethicist at heart? 2014-01-27T22:20:25.189Z · score: 11 (13 votes)
LINK: AI Researcher Yann LeCun on AI function 2013-12-11T00:29:52.608Z · score: 2 (12 votes)
As an upload, would you join the society of full telepaths/empaths? 2013-10-15T20:59:30.879Z · score: 7 (17 votes)
[LINK] Larry = Harry sans magic? Google vs. Death 2013-09-18T16:49:17.876Z · score: 25 (31 votes)
[Link] AI advances: computers can be almost as funny as people 2013-08-02T18:41:08.410Z · score: 7 (9 votes)
How would not having free will feel to you? 2013-06-20T20:51:33.213Z · score: 6 (14 votes)
Quotes and Notes on Scott Aaronson’s "The Ghost in the Quantum Turing Machine" 2013-06-17T05:11:29.160Z · score: 18 (22 votes)
Applied art of rationality: Richard Feynman steelmanning his mother's concerns 2013-06-04T17:31:24.675Z · score: 8 (17 votes)
[LINK] SMBC on human and alien values 2013-05-29T15:14:45.362Z · score: 3 (10 votes)
[LINK]s: Who says Watson is only a narrow AI? 2013-05-21T18:04:12.240Z · score: 4 (11 votes)
LINK: Google research chief: 'Emergent artificial intelligence? Hogwash!' 2013-05-17T19:45:45.739Z · score: 7 (16 votes)


Comment by shminux on Prokaryote Multiverse. An argument that potential simulators do not have significantly more complex physics than ours · 2019-08-18T05:03:16.930Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I reflexively downvoted this, so I feel obliged to explained why. Mostly because it reads to me like content-free word salad repeating the buzzwords like Solomonoff induction, Kolmogorov complexity and Occam's razor. And it claims to disprove something it doesn't even clearly define. Not trying to impose my opinion on others here, just figured I'd write it out, since being silently downvoted sucks, at least for me.

Comment by shminux on Distance Functions are Hard · 2019-08-17T02:23:09.058Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think I am following your argument. I am not sure what Pearl's causal networks are and how they help here, so maybe I need to read up on it.

Comment by shminux on Distance Functions are Hard · 2019-08-16T02:24:43.237Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I am not sure if labels help here. I'm simply pointing out that logical counterfactuals applied to the "real Lincoln" lead to the sort of issues MIRI is facing right now when trying to make progress in the theoretical AI alignment issues. The reference class approach removes the difficulties, but then it is hard to apply it to the "mathematical facts", like what is the probability of 100...0th digit of pi being 0 or, to quote the OP "If the Modularity Theorem were false..." and the prevailing MIRI philosophy does not allow treating logical uncertainty as environmental.

Comment by shminux on Distance Functions are Hard · 2019-08-14T03:39:22.348Z · score: 1 (2 votes) · LW · GW

"If Lincoln were not assassinated, he would not have been impeached" is a probabilistic statement that is not at all about THE Lincoln. It's a reference class analysis of leaders who did not succumb to premature death and had the leadership, economy etc. metrics similar to the one Lincoln. There is no "counterfactual" there in any interesting sense. It is not about the minute details of avoiding the assassination. If you state the apparent counterfactual more precisely, it would be something like

There is a 90% probability of a ruler with [list of characteristics matching Lincoln, according to some criteria] serving out his term.

So, there is no issue with "If 0=1..." here, unlike with the other one, "If the modularity theorem were false", which implies some changes in the very basics of mathematics, though one can also argue for the reference class approach there.

Comment by shminux on [deleted post] 2019-08-12T04:54:00.373Z

From what I understand about humans, they are so self-contradictory and illogical that any AGI that actually tries to optimize for human values will necessarily end up unaligned, and that the best we can hope for is that whatever we end up creating will ignore us and will not need to disassemble the universe to reach whatever goals it might have.

Comment by shminux on Weak foundation of determinism analysis · 2019-08-07T06:48:31.797Z · score: 4 (5 votes) · LW · GW

"There's no free will," says the philosopher;

"To hang is most unjust."

"There is no free will," assents the officer;  

"We hang because we must."

-- Ambrose Bierce

Comment by shminux on How would a person go about starting a geoengineering startup? · 2019-08-06T08:13:03.234Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Maybe consider starting something less ambitious first, but where you have a good handle on what you can achieve, a unique idea and an advantage over those who would want to compete against you and over political interests who would want to destroy you?

Comment by shminux on Diagnosis: Russell Aphasia · 2019-08-06T07:54:26.341Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW
A culture that cannot tell the difference between "reporting" and "doxing" and merely considers it "doxing" when they do it, is a culture that cannot accurately talk about behavior anymore.

I'm yet to see a culture that can do it. Any examples?

Comment by shminux on Zeno walks into a bar · 2019-08-04T08:05:02.632Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Struggling to understand the point of this post.

Comment by shminux on [Site Update] Weekly/Monthly/Yearly on All Posts · 2019-08-02T06:49:37.939Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

These are not mutually exclusive, so why not make both calendar and duration options available.

Comment by shminux on Will autonomous cars be more economical/efficient as shared urban transit than busses or trains, and by how much? What's some good research on this? · 2019-07-31T02:25:23.780Z · score: 8 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I remember thinking through the potential evolution of autonomous transportation* some 10 years ago, and, barring the protectionist forces winning out and enshrining the "right to drive" in law, like the "right to bear arms", it's pretty clear where the transportation is going.

1. One- or two-person electric commute vehicles dominating city traffic, eventually leading to the whole swaths of urban areas being closed to human drivers, which would be deemed unsafe. Those areas will then expand outwards and merge, eventually spreading into the suburbs, and at some point major highways, first with HOV lanes, then taking over the rest lane-by-lane. Owning a car will become very expensive, and a human-driven car prohibitively so.

2. The huge parking lots will disappear, since uber-like electric commuters will be in use much more often and can be stored efficiently in much smaller spaces during off-peak times.

3. Everything will be routinely recorded, whether outside of the vehicle or inside it, limiting the type of activities one can indulge in while getting to the destination. Vandalism will virtually disappear, as well. Ride sharing will complete strangers will be as safe as walking along them on a busy street somewhere in central London.

4. Once there are no more human drivers, in the autonomous-only areas the vehicles themselves will be able to communicate and coordinate, and soon will be required to do so, forming a driving grid. Any vehicle not complying with the grid inclusion rules will not be allowed in, or forced to stop and get towed outside. Yes, the grid will eventually take control from the single vehicles.

5. Once that happens, the traffic lights will be largely obsolete. There will be pedestrian crossings, with the Walk/Stop signs, but no usual traffic lights, since there will be no human drivers to look at them.

6. The current alternating pattern of driving through the intersection will change: without pedestrian crossings cars will simply zoom in all directions, their movement perfectly choreographed by the grid. With pedestrian crossings there will be breaks for humans to cross on foot in all directions at once. Odds are, many crossings will be replaced with walkways above or below ground.

7. Congestion will be greatly reduced due to coordination. Worst case you'd have to wait to get your ride, as the grid will limit the number of vehicles to keep the system at peak efficiency. Traffic jams will be extremely rare, since most current causes of it will be eliminated, such as broken down cars, accidents, high volume traffic, power outages, road work (the grid will shape the traffic around any roadwork in progress).

8. The city architecture will change to accommodate the new transportation realities: there will be much less road space needed, so some of the wide busy streets will be repurposed for parks, living spaces, etc.

This is as much as I recall offhand, but there is definitely more.

Now, to answer your question, the costs will eventually go down orders of magnitude compared to the existing means of transportation. Which does not mean that price will go down nearly as much, as everything will be heavily taxed, like train and plane tickets now.

Edit: I expect this will happen first in places with high penetration of autonomous vehicles. Places like, say, Oslo. Also in the countries where the government can exert some pressure and ensure compliance and coordination, like, say, in China and maybe Japan. The US will be one of the last ones, and the most expensive ones, as is customary with most technological innovations lately.


* The language will evolve accordingly:

  • "self-driving car" will be a name for DIY driving, the opposite of what it is now.
  • self-driving will be reserved for antique car enthusiasts, who would tow their cars to a "driving range" and show off their skills in this ancient activity, sort of like horseback riding is now.

Comment by shminux on When Having Friends is More Alluring than Being Right (by Ferrett Steinmetz) · 2019-07-31T00:46:16.612Z · score: 16 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Instead of assuming, as the linked post does, that "I am right and those loonies are wrong", consider answering the question in the link, when applied to oneself:

“What if you got irrefutable proof that the Earth was round? You’d lose all your friends. Could you walk away from this culture you helped create?”


“What if I got irrefutable proof that [my belief X] contradicts evidence? I'd lose all my friends believing X. Could I walk away from this culture I helped create?”

where X can be "left-wing political values" or "Bayesian rationality" or "freedom of choice" or... you name a belief you hold dear and invested a lot of effort to create a group around.

Comment by shminux on Information empathy · 2019-07-30T02:37:19.989Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Reminds me of people getting mad at their partner for something said partner did in a dream the person had. Never underestimate human capacity of ignoring logic and evidence.

Comment by shminux on Arguments for the existence of qualia · 2019-07-29T03:17:08.773Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Right, I assumed as much. Postulating qualia as a primitive notion strikes me as not very useful though.

Comment by shminux on What is our evidence that Bayesian Rationality makes people's lives significantly better? · 2019-07-29T01:52:19.496Z · score: 5 (4 votes) · LW · GW
What evidence can I show to a non-Rationalist that our particular movement (i.e. our particular techniques for overcoming biases, studying decision theory, applying Bayesianism, learning CBT techniques, etc.) is valuable for making their lives significantly better?

Notice the typical mind fallacy/generalizing from one example: you assume that if your life got significantly better from learning the Gospel of Bayes, then so would everyone's. That is emphatically not so: there are many many happy religious people who feel happiness from living their life according to their understanding of their God's laws.

Maybe consider starting by identifying a subset of currently not very happy people who might benefit from learning about LW/CFAR-style rationality and focus on those.

Personally, I have enjoyed reading and learning what Eliezer wrote between 2009 and 2015 or so (fiction and non-fiction), and what Scott A has been writing, and an occasional other post, but I would be hard pressed to say that any of that made my life significantly better. If anything, learning to understand people's feelings, including my own, has had a far larger impact on my life.

Comment by shminux on Arguments for the existence of qualia · 2019-07-29T01:35:55.882Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Not sure what you mean by "primitive" here. If we assume that a human can be simulated, i.e. described as an algorithm, then there would be a sequence of state transitions or something like it that corresponds to a perception of a certain quale. These sequences are likely to be generalizable to "qualia sequences". Further, most humans and probably other animals, when modeled, would exhibit these sequences. In that sense qualia exist, as a model that accurately describes observations like "I see color red".

Comment by shminux on Just Imitate Humans? · 2019-07-27T02:53:46.982Z · score: 9 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Imitating humans is both hard and dangerous.

Let's talk about dangerous. Humans are reasonably benign in the situation where they do not have a lot of power or control compared to others. Once you look into unusual cases, people quickly become unaligned with other people, or even with the whole of humanity. Same applies to groups of people who gain power. I am guessing your intention is to try to imitate humans in the situations where they are mostly harmless, and then extrapolate this imitation by ramping up the computational power to make decisions using the same algorithms. If so, I would expect the group of "human-imitating artificial agents" to quickly become a clique that is hostile to the actual humans.

Now, about the hard part. Basic image recognition took 60 years to get anywhere close to human level, and it is still not there (cue a Tesla on autopilot plowing into road-crossing trucks, traffic cones, and other objects an alert human would never miss). Similarly, a lot of other tasks that look easy to humans are hard to put into an algorithm, even with an Alpha Zero neural net and such.

I suspect that instead of imitating human behaviors it would be much more useful to understand it first, and that seems to be one of the directions the AI alignment people are already working on.

Comment by shminux on On the purposes of decision theory research · 2019-07-26T02:45:07.869Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I know I sound like a broken record, but I don't believe that a lot of progress can be made in 1 and 3 until one starts to routinely taboo "true" and "free will", Try changing the wording from "true" to "useful" and from "free will" to "algorithm".

Comment by shminux on Metaphorical extensions and conceptual figure-ground inversions · 2019-07-24T07:23:22.196Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Also, the "everything is chemicals!" argument against organic food and such.

Comment by shminux on Experimental Open Thread April 2019: Socratic method · 2019-07-24T04:33:42.604Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Sadly, I don't think we are converging at all.

It seems to me, on the other hand, that our theories have steadily improved over those millennia (in terms of objectively verifiable metrics like their ability to predict the results of increasingly esoteric experiments)

Yes, definitely.

and that this is evidence in favor of an eventual theory of everything.

I don't see why it would be. Just because one one is able to march forward doesn't mean that there is a destination. There are many possible alternatives. One is that we will keep making more accurate models (in a sense of making more detailed confirmed predictions in more areas) without ever ending anywhere. Another is that we will stall in our predictive abilities and stop making measurable progress, get stuck in a swamp, so to speak. This could happen, for example, if the computational power required to make better predictions grows exponentially with accuracy. Yet another alternative is that the act of making a better model actually creates new observations (in your language, changes the laws of the universe). After all, if you believe that we are agents embedded in the universe, then our actions change the universe, and who is to say that at some point they won't change even what we think are the fundamental laws. There is an amusing novel about the universe protecting itself from overly inquisitive humans:

How can it be possible to achieve even partial accuracy at predicting something that is purportedly impossible to model?

I don't believe I have said anything of the sort. Of course we are able to build models. Without predictability life, let alone consciousness would be impossible, and that was one of my original statements. I don't know what is it I said that gave you the impression that abandoning the concept of objective reality means we ought to lose predictability in any way.


But to postulate that no such theory exists is, I think, not only unsupported by the evidence, but actually contradicted by it--unless you're interpreting the state of scientific progress quite differently than I am.*

I don't postulate it. You postulate that there is something at the bottom. I'm simply saying that there is no need for this postulate, and, given what we see so far, every prediction of absolute knowledge in a given area turned out to be wrong, so, odds are, whether or not there is something at the bottom or not, at this point this postulate is harmful, rather than useful, and is wholly unnecessary. Our current experience suggests that it is all models, and if this ever changes, that would be a surprise.

That's all.

Comment by shminux on Where is the Meaning? · 2019-07-23T06:16:45.652Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Indeed, words don't mean things on their own, people use words to mean things. But with enough shared context, it's a reasonable approximation to say that words mean things. Up until they don't. Scott A expressed it rather well when discussing whether whale is a fish.

Comment by shminux on Do you fear the rock or the hard place? · 2019-07-21T00:40:42.761Z · score: 20 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Active listening is always a good start. One does not need to agree or express any opinion whatsoever, just empathize with the other person, by restating what they say in your own words, asking/naming the feelings they might have, and making them feel understood. In your example:

more gun control; Y = less gun control; R = people unable to defend themselves and having their rights taken away; H = increased risk of mass shootings, suicides, and children shooting themselves or others.

"I can see why gun control is important to you. Mass shootings, suicides and accidental deaths are terrible, and you are making a good point that easy availability of guns leads to more of these awful events. And you are saying that more gun control would make it harder to get guns and lower the odds of someone using them, especially accidentally or impulsively. Is that what you are saying? Please correct me if I missed or misstated something."

"The potential future you are describing, where law-abiding citizens are unable to defend themselves from armed criminals, or worse are unable to resist when their rights taken away by the government agencies, does sound pretty scary. Looks like your point is that more gun control would be a step toward such a future, and you find this possibility terrifying. Is this a fair summary?"

Before you can logic with someone, they need to feel safe with you emotionally. This applies to most people, whether aspiring rationalists or not. Active listening is a good way to cross this emotional distance. Your own views and opinions can be expressed after, and do not have to be forceful, more like a point to bring up and ask them to consider it and the arguments they can help you evaluate. There is no guarantee of them changing their mind, or you changing yours, or any convergence whatsoever, but at least you will remain friendly and can go for a beer together after.

Comment by shminux on Why artificial optimism? · 2019-07-20T02:36:16.537Z · score: 5 (2 votes) · LW · GW

My point, as usual not well articulated, is that the question "how to fix things?" is way down the line. First, the apparent "distortonary dynamics" may only be an appearance of one. The situation described is a common if metastable equilibrium, and it is not to me whether it is "distortionary" or not. So, after the first impulse to "fix" the status quo passes, it's good to investigate it first. I didn't mean to suggest one *should* take advantage of the situation, merely to investigate if one *could*. Just like in one of Eliezer's examples, seeing a single overvalued house does not help you profit on it. And if there is indeed a way to do so, meaning the equilibrium is shallow enough, the next step would be to model the system as it climbs out of the current state and rolls down one of many possible other equilibria. Those other ones may be even worse, but the metric applied to evaluate the current state vs the imaginary ideal state. A few examples:

  • Most new businesses fail within 3 years, but without new aspired entrepreneurs having a too rosy estimate of their chances for success (cf the Optimism bias mentioned in the OP) there would be a lot fewer new businesses and everyone would be worse off in the long run.
  • Karl Marx was calling for the freedom of the working class through revolution, but any actual revolution makes things worse for everyone, including the working class, at least in the short to medium run (years to decades). If anything, history showed that incremental evolutionary advances work a lot better.
  • The discussed Potemkin Villages, in moderation, can be an emotional stimulus for people to try harder. In fact, a lot of the fake statistics in the former Soviet Union served that purpose.
Comment by shminux on Normalising utility as willingness to pay · 2019-07-19T02:45:10.400Z · score: 5 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Hah, the auction interpretation of Quantum Mechanics! Wonder what restrictions would need to be imposed on the bidders in order to preserve both the entanglement and relativity.

Comment by shminux on Doublecrux is for Building Products · 2019-07-19T02:38:01.125Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks, all good points. Wish we all cared to apply modifications like that.

I also agree with off-the-shelf support advantages of Android, though the update mechanism outside of the play store seems to be nothing special. As for weighing the dimensions differently, there is definitely a significant difference: he puts premium on not rocking the boat, while mine is on delivering simple maintainable low-risk solutions. In general, simplicity is greatly undervalued. You probably can relate.

Comment by shminux on Doublecrux is for Building Products · 2019-07-18T07:20:48.752Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

1. I'm just removing an unnecessary assumption, to avoid the discussion about what it means to be right or wrong, and whether there is a single right answer.

2. I don't have the clout to change the boss's mind. Making suboptimal decisions based on implicit unjustified assumptions and incomplete information, and then getting angry when challenged is something most of humans do at some point.

Comment by shminux on Doublecrux is for Building Products · 2019-07-17T08:13:09.711Z · score: 8 (4 votes) · LW · GW

A few points. I am currently in the situation where the company I work for has been wasting millions, slipping schedule and increasing risk due to picking a wrong environment for the project (Android instead of Linux. Android is necessary for apps, but terrible beyond belief for IoT, where one does not need the playstore.) The owner of the company drank the Android Kool Aid and the project manager refuses to tell him what this marketing gimmick ending up costing. It would be impolitic for me to challenge the two of them, and it's not my money that is wasted. We have an occasional "this would be so much easier on Linux" moment, but it goes nowhere, because the decision has been made and any change in the course, even if projected to save money, would be perceived as risky and would expose someone's incompetence. So we are stuck at the "agree to disagree" stage, and the project manager makes the call, without any interest in discussing the merits and getting angry at any mention of an alternative.

Re your set of attitudes. I find that one does not need to believe in anything like "objective reality is real" to use the technique. So, let me modify your list a bit

Epistemic humility: "maybe I'm the wrong one" -> "Maybe my approach is not the optimal one"
Good faith "I trust my partner to be cooperating with me"
Belief that objective reality is real -> Belief that better approaches are possible
"there's an actual right answer here -> "there is a chance of a better answer, where "better" can be agreed on by all parties" , and it's better for each of us if we've both found it"
Earnest curiosity
Comment by shminux on Wolf's Dice · 2019-07-17T02:05:13.619Z · score: 12 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I'm confused about something. In reality there are no perfect dice, all dice are biased in some way, intentionally or not. Thus wouldn't a more realistic approach be something like "Given the dataset, construct the (multidimensional) probability distribution of biases." Why privilege the "unbiased" hypothesis?

Comment by shminux on Nutrition is Satisficing · 2019-07-17T00:28:14.867Z · score: 5 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Good points! Also helps one avoid the Goodhart trap, optimizing for a wrong thing. Also applies to savings: Dilbert's 9-point financial plan is one of satisficing, not optimizing:

Dilbert creator Scott Adams claims this is "everything you need to know about personal investing":

  1. Make a will
  2. Pay off your credit cards
  3. Get term life insurance if you have a family to support
  4. Fund your 401k to the maximum [Or your local equivalent employer contribution matching]
  5. Fund your IRA to the maximum [Or your local equivalent of tax-deductible investment and/or tax-free interest growth]
  6. Buy a house if you want to live in a house and can afford it
  7. Put six months worth of expenses in a money-market account
  8. Take whatever money is left over and invest 70% in a stock index fund and 30% in a bond fund through any discount broker and never touch it until retirement
  9. If any of this confuses you, or you have something special going on (retirement, college planning, tax issues), hire a fee-based financial planner, not one who charges a percentage of your portfolio
Comment by shminux on Why artificial optimism? · 2019-07-15T21:49:54.481Z · score: 12 (6 votes) · LW · GW
This model raises an important question (with implications for the real world): if you're a detective in the kingdom of the gullible king who is at least somewhat aware of the reality of the situation and the distortonary dynamics, and you want to fix the situation (or at least reduce harm), what are your options?

I suspect that is not the first question to ask. In the spirit of Inadequate Equilibria, a better initial question would be, "Can you take advantage of the apparent irrationality of the situation?", and "What fraction of the population would have to cooperate to change things for the better?" and if there is no clear answer to either, then the situation is not as irrational as it seems, and the artificial optimism is, in fact, the best policy under the circumstances.

Comment by shminux on What are we predicting for Neuralink event? · 2019-07-13T07:16:11.418Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

No idea what they will show off, but, however much I would like to have the internet at my nerve tips, it is unlikely to be that.

Comment by shminux on The AI Timelines Scam · 2019-07-12T06:51:12.817Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · LW · GW

why is the above comment so badly downvoted?

Comment by shminux on Religion as Goodhart · 2019-07-12T02:50:11.359Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I guess my point got lost in the shuffle. It's right there in the OP, though. The adaptation is looking to an external higher power for answers. Initially it would have been where to hunt, but eventually Goodharted into praying and so on.

Comment by shminux on The AI Timelines Scam · 2019-07-11T05:04:42.687Z · score: 17 (11 votes) · LW · GW

I see clear parallels with the treatment of Sabine Hossenfelder blowing the whistle on the particle physics community pushing for a new $20B particle accelerator. She has been going through the same adversity as any high-profile defector from a scientific community, and the arguments against her are the same ones you are listing.

Comment by shminux on What's state-of-the-art in AI understanding of theory of mind? · 2019-07-11T05:02:29.170Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Humans are trivial to kill. Physically, chemically, biologically or psychologically. And a combination of those would be even more effective in collapsing the human population. I will not go here into the details, to avoid arguments and negative attention. And if your argument is that humans are tough to kill, then look into the historic data of population collapse, and that was without any adversarial pressure. Or with, if you consider the indigenous population of the American continent.

Comment by shminux on Experimental Open Thread April 2019: Socratic method · 2019-07-10T20:48:04.600Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW
t seems, based on what you're saying, that you're taking "reality" to mean some preferred set of models.

Depending on the meaning of the word preferred. I tend to use "useful" instead.

my belief in an external reality, if we phrase it in the same terms we've been using (namely, the language of models and predictions), can be summarized as the belief that there is some (reachable) model within our hypothesis space that can perfectly predict further inputs.

It's a common belief, but it appears to me quite unfounded, since it hasn't happened in millennia of trying. So, a direct observation speaks against this model.

I expect that (barring an existential catastrophe that erases us entirely) there will eventually come a point when we have the "full picture" of physics, such that no experiment we perform will produce a result we find surprising.

It's another common belief, though separate from the belief of reality. It is a belief that this reality is efficiently knowable, a bold prediction that is not supported by evidence and has hints to the contrary from the complexity theory.

If we arrive at such a model, I would be comfortable referring to that model as "true", and the phenomena it describes as "reality".

Yes, in this highly hypothetical case I would agree.

Initially, I took you to be asserting the negation of the above statement--namely, that we will never stop being surprised by the universe, and that our models, though they might asymptotically approach a rate of 100% predictive success, will never quite get there.

I make no claims one way or the other. We tend to get better at predicting observations in certain limited areas, though it tends to come at a cost. In high-energy physics the progress has slowed to a standstill, no interesting observations has been predicted since last millennium. General Relativity plus the standard model of the particle physics have stood unchanged and unchallenged for decades, the magic numbers they require remaining unexplained since the Higgs mass was predicted a long time ago. While this suggests that, yes, we will probably never stop being surprised by the -universe- (no strike through markup here?) observations, I make no such claims.

It is this claim that I find implausible, since it seems to imply that there is no model in our hypothesis space capable of predicting further inputs with 100% accuracy--but if that is the case, why do we currently have a model with >99% predictive accuracy?

Yes we do have a good handle on many isolated sets of observations, though what you mean by 99% is not clear to me. Similarly, I don't know what you mean by 100% accuracy here. I can imagine that in some limited areas 100% accuracy can be achievable, though we often get surprised even there. Say, in math the Hilbert Program had a surprising twist. Feel free to give examples of 100% predictability, and we can discuss them. I find this model (of no universal perfect predictability) very plausible and confirmed by observations. I am still unsure what you mean by coincidence here. The dictionary defines it as "A remarkable concurrence of events or circumstances without apparent causal connection." and that open a whole new can of worms about what "apparent" and "causal" mean in the situation we are describing, and we soon will be back to a circular argument of implying some underlying reality to explain why we need to postulate reality.

Now, perhaps you actually do hold the position described in the above paragraph. (If you do, please let me know.) But based on what you wrote, it doesn't seem necessary for me to assume that you do. Rather, you seem to be saying something along the lines of, "It may be tempting to take our current set of models as describing how reality ultimately is, but in fact we have no way of knowing this for sure, so it's best not to assume anything."

I don't disagree with the quoted part, it's a decent description.

If that's all you're saying, it doesn't necessarily conflict with my view (although I'd suggest that "reality doesn't exist" is a rather poor way to go about expressing this sentiment). Nonetheless, if I'm correct about your position, then I'm curious as to what you think it's useful for? Presumably it doesn't help make any predictions (almost by definition), so I assume you'd say it's useful for dissolving certain kinds of confusion. Any examples, if so?

"reality doesn't exist" was not my original statement, it was "models all the way down", a succinct way to express the current state of knowledge, where all we get is observations and layers of models based on them predicting future observations. It is useful to avoid getting astray with questions about existence or non-existence of something, like numbers, multiverse or qualia. If you stick to models, these questions are dissolved as meaningless (not useful for predicting future observations). Just like the question of counting angels on the head of a pin. Tegmark Level X, the hard problem of consciousness, MWI vs Copenhagen, none of these are worth arguing over until and unless you suggest something that can be potentially observable.

Comment by shminux on If physics is many-worlds, does ethics matter? · 2019-07-10T19:36:24.441Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

As I mentioned there, Jessica was apparently pissed and uncharacteristically uncharitable in her reply. The upvote count in this case seems to reflect tribal affiliations more than anything.

Comment by shminux on If physics is many-worlds, does ethics matter? · 2019-07-10T19:34:29.002Z · score: 2 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I said "a" not "the". Yes, you could also quote Tegmark and Deutsch. I tend to favor a pragmatic approach to science, same as Sabine. You don't have to, but it helps to realize that untestable models still "add up to normality", to quote The Founder, and so have no bearing on your ethics.

Comment by shminux on If physics is many-worlds, does ethics matter? · 2019-07-10T15:50:24.034Z · score: -19 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Consider reading a real physicist's take on the issue: Why the multiverse is religion, not science.

Comment by shminux on Religion as Goodhart · 2019-07-10T15:16:10.610Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

You got it backwards. Faith never recommends randomization, it justifies it. Like trusting the tea leaves to predict the future.

randomness in physics is cheap, and nature uses randomization in many rock-paper-scissors games without requiring religion or even brains.

Yes, randomness in physics is cheap, but I have a hard time finding examples of, say, a uniform or exponential distribution in the behaviors of higher animals. Just because something is cheap at a lower levels (e.g. quantum processes), it does not mean that it is cheap at the higher levels. I welcome examples of higher-levels rock-paper-scissors type of behavior.

Comment by shminux on Are there easy, low cost, ways to freeze personal cell samples for future therapies? And is this a good idea? · 2019-07-10T05:19:45.695Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW might be similar to what you are looking for. They only deal with baby teeth though.

Comment by shminux on Thoughts on The Replacing Guilt Series⁠ — pt 1 · 2019-07-06T00:45:37.113Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Ah. I guess a link to the source would be useful.

Comment by shminux on Thoughts on The Replacing Guilt Series⁠ — pt 1 · 2019-07-05T23:17:57.266Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I couldn't figure out how your post is related to the subject of your title, guilt.

Comment by shminux on Why America Prefers a Weak and Peaceful Europe · 2019-07-05T21:02:05.559Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Not sure I agree with the framing. You are assuming that America prefers weaker Europe, which is not self-evident.

Comment by shminux on What's state-of-the-art in AI understanding of theory of mind? · 2019-07-05T20:06:01.087Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Not sure what you are asking and how it is relevant to the general patterns that could trigger an adverse AI response. Also, how much of your stance is triggered by the "humans are special" belief?

Comment by shminux on What's state-of-the-art in AI understanding of theory of mind? · 2019-07-05T19:56:44.968Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Every behavior is complex when you look into the details. But the general patterns are often quite simple. And humans are no exception. They expand and take over, easy to predict. Sometimes the expansion stalls for a time, but then resumes. What do you think is so different in overall human patterns from the natural phenomena?

Comment by shminux on What's state-of-the-art in AI understanding of theory of mind? · 2019-07-05T01:28:06.441Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I am not sure that a theory of mind is needed here. If one were to treat humans as a natural phenomenon, living, like the tuberculosis bacillus, or non-living like ice spreading over a lake in freezing temperatures, then the overt behavioral aspects is all that is needed to detect a threat to be eliminated. And then it's trivial to find a means to dispose of the threat, humans are fragile and stupid and have created a lot of ready means of mass destruction.

Comment by shminux on What would be the signs of AI manhattan projects starting? Should a website be made watching for these signs? · 2019-07-03T14:22:46.160Z · score: 15 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Probably sudden reduction in profile or outright disappearance from the public view of the prominent experts in the area, as they are recruited to work on the more clandestine research.

Comment by shminux on The Right Way of Formulating a Problem? · 2019-07-02T16:02:02.232Z · score: 12 (3 votes) · LW · GW

A symptom of this missing reformulation is often when people focus on a particular solution to a problem that is implicit in their mind, often without realizing it. I often have an interaction like this at work, which can be summed up as "What problem is this solution for?":

Technical lead: "What would it take to implement X?"

Me: "Why do you want to do X?"

TL, visibly frustrated: "To achieve Y"

Me: "What is a goal of having Y?"

TL, even more frustrated: "There is a customer request for Z, and Y is how we can implement it"

Me: "What problem is the customer trying to solve?"

TL, now exasperated: "I don't know for sure, but the customer service asked for Z"

Me: "My guess is that what triggered a request for Z is that they have an issue with A, B or maybe C, and, given their limited understanding of our product, they think that Z will solve it. I am quite sure that there are alternative approaches to solving their issue, whatever it is, and Z is only one of them, likely not the best one. Let's figure out what they are struggling with, and I can suggest a range of approaches, then we can decide which of those make sense."

TL: "I need to provide an estimate to the customer service so they can invoice the customer"

Me: "As soon as we figure out what we are implementing, definitely. Or do you want me to just blindly do X?"

TL: "Just give me the estimate for X." sometimes accompanied by "Let me run the reports and see what's going on"

Me: "N weeks of my time" [well padded because of the unknowns]

Occasionally some time later, after some basic investigation: the real problem they seem to be facing is actually P, and it has multiple solutions, of which X is one, but it requires more work than X' or X'' and interferes with the feature F for other customers. Let's run the latter two by the customer, with a cost and timeline for each, and see what happens.

In the above pattern there were multiple levels of confusing problems with solutions:

  • The customer asked for Z without explaining or even understanding what ails them
  • The customer service people didn't push back for clarification, and just assumed that Z is what needs to be done
  • The TL decided that Y will solve Z and that X is a way to implement Y

This may or may not be related to the question you are asking, though. Here is a classic example from physics after the null result of the Michelson-Morley experiment that showed that the speed of light is constant: "What happens to the medium that light propagates in?" vs "What if we postulate that light propagation does not need a medium?"

Comment by shminux on Research Agenda in reverse: what *would* a solution look like? · 2019-06-27T00:52:41.337Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Exactly. You explained it better than I could :)