Mask wearing: do the opposite of what the CDC/WHO has been saying? 2020-04-02T22:10:31.126Z · score: 11 (5 votes)
Good News: the Containment Measures are Working 2020-03-17T05:49:12.516Z · score: 26 (6 votes)
(Double-)Inverse Embedded Agency Problem 2020-01-08T04:30:24.842Z · score: 25 (9 votes)
Since figuring out human values is hard, what about, say, monkey values? 2020-01-01T21:56:28.787Z · score: 36 (13 votes)
A basic probability question 2019-08-23T07:13:10.995Z · score: 11 (2 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: 2 (9 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: 32 (18 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: 16 (19 votes)
A simple exercise in rationality: rephrase an objective statement as subjective and explore the caveats 2015-04-18T23:46:49.750Z · score: 21 (22 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)


Comment by shminux on Causality and its harms · 2020-07-07T02:33:43.166Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW
If causation is understood in terms of counterfactuals — X would have happened if Y had happened — then there is still a difference between cause and effect. A model of a world implies models of hypothetical, counterfactual worlds.

Yes, indeed, in terms of counterfactuals there is. But counterfactuals are in the map (well, to be fair a map is a tiny part of the territory in the agent's brain). Which was my original point: causality is in the map.

Comment by shminux on Causality and its harms · 2020-07-06T01:58:00.328Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW
And yet, there is some underlying physical process which drives our ability to model the world with the idea that things cause other things and we might reasonably point to it and say it is the real causality, i.e. the aspect of existence that we perceive as change.

Hmm. Imagine the world as fully deterministic. Then there is no "real causality" to speak of, everything is set in stone, and there is no difference between cause and effect. The "underlying physical process which drives our ability to model the world with the idea that things cause other things" are essential in being an embedded agent, since agency equals a perceived world optimization, which requires, in turn, predictability (from the inside the world), but I don't think anyone has a good handle on what "predictability from inside the world" may look like. Off hand, it means that there is a subset of the world that runs a coarse-grained simulation of the world, but how do you recognize such a simulation without already knowing what you are looking for? Anyway, this is a bit of a tangent.

Comment by shminux on Causality and its harms · 2020-07-05T02:16:45.673Z · score: 7 (4 votes) · LW · GW

TL;DR: Causality is an abstraction, a feature of our models of the world, not of the world itself, and sometimes it is useful, but other times not so much. Notice when it's not useful and use other models.

Comment by shminux on How to decide to get a nosejob or not? · 2020-07-03T05:02:45.499Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The looks can be changed a lot with some judicial makeup. Consider watching some youtube videos on contouring, and trying it out, either by yourself or with some professional help. See if you notice any change in how others see you and relate to you.

Comment by shminux on Atemporal Ethical Obligations · 2020-06-27T03:11:21.409Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Then I'm guessing that you are explicitly or implicitly a moral realist...

Comment by shminux on Atemporal Ethical Obligations · 2020-06-27T00:21:12.813Z · score: 15 (7 votes) · LW · GW
JK Rowling isn’t even dead yet, and beliefs that would have put her at the liberal edge of the feminist movement thirty years ago are now earning widespread condemnation.

If you think that cancel culture is progress in morality, the future will judge you harshly, if acausally.

Comment by shminux on Probability interpretations: Examples · 2020-06-20T23:33:27.146Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Right, never mind, for a moment what your discourse style is. Disengaging.

Comment by shminux on Probability interpretations: Examples · 2020-06-20T22:30:45.628Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW
Determinism is defined in terms of inevitability, ie. lack of possible alternatives. We do not regard the future as undetermined just because it has not happened yet.

I don't argue with that, in fact, the statement above makes my point: there is no difference between an as-yet-unknown to you (but predetermined) digit of pi and anything else that is not yet known to you, like the way a coin lands when you flip it.

Comment by shminux on Probability interpretations: Examples · 2020-06-20T20:48:19.447Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The paradox only arises if you ignore the view I've been presenting. The 98,765th digit of π is a random digit in the same way that a 98,765th reading of rand() is. Until you do some work to measure it, it's not determined.

Comment by shminux on Probability interpretations: Examples · 2020-06-20T16:06:46.776Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

By "good" I mean (as always) "fitting the available observations and producing accurate predictions". In the OP's case of the 98,765th digit of π, the model is that "A randomly picked digit is uniformly distributed" and it is a "good" (i.e. accurate) one.

Comment by shminux on Intuitive Lagrangian Mechanics · 2020-06-14T05:05:45.702Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I've read the post a couple of times over, and I still don't have an intuitive understanding of why one would subtract potential energy from kinetic, despite having done graduate work in general relativity. Yes, extremizing action comes from the stationary phase approximation of the path integral, and yes, following a path with "low potential energy" makes you arrive to the destination younger, just like moving faster does (yet arriving at the same instant as those moving slower), but first, it's not obvious why the former is so, and second, why it would matter in non-gravitational physics, especially in classical mechanics. I would like to see an intuitive argument where the difference between kinetic and potential energies makes sense.

Comment by shminux on Intuitive Lagrangian Mechanics · 2020-06-13T19:19:13.719Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Your definition of "intuitive" is unlikely to match that of most participants here.

Comment by shminux on What does “torture vs. dust specks” imply for insect suffering? · 2020-06-09T03:48:28.052Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Maybe think of the insects and other organisms that would greatly overwhelm human suffering as one big utility monster.

Comment by shminux on [deleted post] 2020-06-08T15:31:36.385Z

Let me suggest a simpler "thought experiment":

There is a gun loaded as per Russian roulette rules, pointed at your head. Should you pull the trigger to find out "the truth" about its chamber?

My contention is that your other examples are no different.

Comment by shminux on Your abstraction isn't wrong, it's just really bad · 2020-05-27T04:23:38.480Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

CompSci and Programming: less that 100 years old. Math: over 3000 years old. Let's see if you get to redesign your programming languages in 3000 years.

Comment by shminux on Opposing a hierarchy does not imply egalitarianism · 2020-05-23T22:05:47.404Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Not sure who claims this innate egalitarianism, human groups nearly always naturally develop a hierarchy if one is not imposed on them.

Comment by shminux on How to avoid Schelling points? · 2020-05-14T23:39:43.203Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Seems related to the "guess 2/3 of the average" game.

Comment by shminux on Project Proposal: Gears of Aging · 2020-05-09T22:45:57.027Z · score: 11 (6 votes) · LW · GW
I think that the data required to figure out the gears of most major human age-related diseases is probably already available, online, today.

I find that wildly optimistic. My guess is quite opposite: while we see the symptoms of aging, and have some inkling of the underlying processes, like telomerase shortening, we have no clue at all about the underlying reasons for it, let alone about how this can be changed in a way that prolongs youth and delays the onset of aging.

Comment by shminux on Why there's an ethanol glut and sanitizer shortage (WSJ) · 2020-05-09T17:11:31.016Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW


Comment by shminux on What would you do differently if you were less concerned with looking weird? · 2020-05-07T23:35:32.997Z · score: 5 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I can't answer that without looking weird!

Comment by shminux on Maths writer/cowritter needed: how you can't distinguish early exponential from early sigmoid · 2020-05-06T21:52:46.812Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Sorry, forgot to replace one of the k with λ. I agree that identifiability and stiffness are different ways to look at the same phenomenon: sensitivity of the solution to the parameter values results to errors building up fast during numerical integration, these errors tend to correspond to different parameter values, and, conversely, with even a small amount of noise the parameter values are hard to identify from the initial part of the curve.

Comment by shminux on Maths writer/cowritter needed: how you can't distinguish early exponential from early sigmoid · 2020-05-06T15:40:05.218Z · score: 9 (5 votes) · LW · GW

You may want to look into stiff equations. The logistic equation y'=λy(1-y) is increasingly stiff with increase in λ, meaning, in particular, that the resulting curve depends very sensitively on small relative changes in λ when λ is large. That would give you the exact effect you observe, inability to predict the inflection point from noisy data.

From a numerical methods textbook:

If the value of λ is increased the transition from zero to one occurs much faster, and for large values of λ it looks almost vertical. Such rapid changes in the solution are characteristic of stiff equations, and what this means is that the logistic equation becomes stiffer as λ increases
Comment by shminux on [U.S. Specific] Criminal Justice Reform in the Time of Covid-19 · 2020-05-02T06:55:03.263Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Since you are interfering with the profits of the monopolies with virtually no oversight, my guess is that, once you are big enough to be noticeable, new rules will be introduced to shut you down.

Comment by shminux on Prolonging life is about the optionality, not about the immortality · 2020-05-01T22:57:56.848Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

TL;DR: Eternal youth + voluntary death = good.

Comment by shminux on Negative Feedback and Simulacra · 2020-04-29T06:03:45.410Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

In my experience no one ever operates on level 1, even, or especially, if they think they do. Every communication attempt has a motivation behind it, whether apparent to the person communicating or not. This fully applies to this comment, as well.

Comment by shminux on My Covid-19 Thinking: 4/23 pre-Cuomo Data · 2020-04-23T23:03:02.678Z · score: 7 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I'm still very much confused by what is going on in the US and elsewhere. Here is my basic estimate:

The US had 2000 deaths on April 7. if 1% people die 3 weeks after being infected, it means that around March 17 there were 200,000 new infections, almost 10 times the official count. The confirmed cases then increased at least 10 times two weeks later, around April 1. It should imply that the likely infection count was also up ten times, to maybe 2,000,000 cases a day. Which would mean 20,000 deaths 3 weeks after that, so right about now. Yet the official numbers are just over 2,000 deaths a day.

So, I do not understand what is going on. And I don't know which input numbers are off. Or which assumptions.

Comment by shminux on An Orthodox Case Against Utility Functions · 2020-04-16T06:22:03.070Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW
I definitely see it as a shift in that direction, although I'm not ready to really bite the bullets -- I'm still feeling out what I personally see as the implications. Like, I want a realist-but-anti-realist view ;p

Well, we all advance at our own pace. Accepting that reality, truth and existence are relative and often subjective notions is not an easy step :) Or that there are various degrees of existence.

Comment by shminux on What does the curve look like for coronavirus on a surface? · 2020-04-15T02:54:00.614Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Specifically "Both viruses exhibited exponential decay in virus titer across all experimental conditions". See the graphs on the last page for different surface types.

Comment by shminux on Is this viable physics? · 2020-04-14T21:39:05.885Z · score: 11 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I am a bit of a physicist, and I really really hope this can be a good step forward. It certainly has the feel of being new enough to have a snowball's chance in hell, at least. Some of his graph-based ideas match what I've also been pondering, not on anywhere near grand a level: how to relate cellular structures to Lorentz invariance:

This approach also purports to describe quantum mechanics, including the measurement process, and the general relativity in the same language, sort of. Which would be neat. My quick browse through the "technical introduction" didn't let me form a coherent opinion about the viability or quality of it. But, at least it's not Gisin's "let's just use intuitionist math instead of the standard math" approach. On the other hand, Scott Aaronson seems to be skeptical.

Ultimately, the real test will be the predictions that this approach makes that are outside of what QM and GR predict already. And how well they can be tested.

Comment by shminux on The World According to Dominic Cummings · 2020-04-14T19:01:19.220Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

One of the linked articles states that to make extraordinary progress, one needs to hire "Great connected people" and give them the freedom and finances to work on their passion, while removing the bureaucratic obstacles. It's not quite the Steve Jobs theory, but close. The same article also describes, time and again, how the results were achieved by either subverting or bypassing the existing bureaucracy. There is no way to reform it, there is no point in trying. The elected government is no better: these are people who optimize electability, not progress. The best one can do in absence of a severe crisis, when existing bureaucratic rules can be suspended, is to reduce the barriers for the great people wanting to do great things to work outside the existing bureaucracy. Elon Musk could not have achieve what he has in land- and space-transportation in, say, medicine, if his goal was to "cure cancer" or something, instead of going to Mars. Mostly because he would be thwarted at every step by the well-meaning yet stifling regulations.

Avoid the bureaucracy, don't try to reform it, if you want to get anything done.

Comment by shminux on Mathematical Intuitionism and the Flow of Time · 2020-04-14T17:39:24.973Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Let me reply to the last one first :)

The Einstein equation was singled out in the Quanta magazine article. I respect the author, she wrote a lot of good articles for Quanta, but this was quite misleading.

I don't understand your second last point. Are you talking about a mathematical algorithm or about a physical measurement? " no matter how many digits we observe following the law like pattern, the future digits may still deviate from that pattern" -- what pattern?

The biggest issue with it seems to be that in order to evaluate the evidence provided by empirical observations we must have a rational framework which includes logic and math. If logic and math themselves were simply observational, then we have no framework for evaluating the evidence provided by those observations.

No, we don't. And yes, they are. We start with some innate abilities of the brain, add the culture we are brought in, then develop models of empirical observations, whatever they are. 1+1=2 is an abstraction of various empirical observations, be in counting sheep or in mathematical proofs. Logic and math co-develop with increasingly complex models and increasingly non-trivial observations, there is no "we need logic and math to evaluate evidence". If you look through the history of science, math was being developed alongside physics, as one of the tools. In that sense the Noether theorem, for example, is akin to, say, a new kind of a telescope.

What is your epistemic justification for asserting such a guarantee of failure?

Because they are of the type that is "not even wrong". The standard math works just fine for both GR and QM, the two main issues are conceptual, not mathematical: How does the (nonlinear) projection postulate emerge from the linear evolution (and no, MWI is not a useful "answer", it has zero predictive power), and how do QM and GR mesh at the mesoscopic scale (i.e. what are the gravitational effects of a spatially separated entangled state?).

Comment by shminux on Coronavirus: Justified Key Insights Thread · 2020-04-14T06:13:23.548Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, it's been clear for some time that the IFR is about 0.5% and that about half the cases are asymptomatic. Give or take 30% on each. The reported variations are mainly due to testing or age/health condition bias.

Comment by shminux on The World According to Dominic Cummings · 2020-04-14T06:00:14.017Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · LW · GW

As usual, the descriptive part is good, the prescriptive part is suspect. Extraordinary progress is only achieved when extraordinary people end up in charge and have the power to control things. Basically "You cannot bullshit Steve Jobs". Sometimes "Steve Jobs" can be a group of people, like in the Manhattan project, or the Apollo program. Where the feedback on one's performance comes from achieving the stated goals, not (just) from how good you are with people.

Comment by shminux on Premature death paradox · 2020-04-14T05:49:00.652Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Math has nothing to do with it. It's the violated expectations. You expect that your elderly grandmother might get pneumonia and die some day soon. You expect an occasional young person to die after catching the flu. You don't expect the carnage that is going on now, with a lot of people dying before they reach their a priori life expectancy. In that way the deaths seem premature for a lot of people, as opposed to premature for some and overly mature for others, with the average being where you expect it.

Comment by shminux on Mathematical Intuitionism and the Flow of Time · 2020-04-14T05:15:09.935Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · LW · GW

First, intuitionist mathematics makes perfect sense to me, and has for some time. Not as a replacement for the conventional math, but as an alternative view.

Second, it has nothing to do with physics, so Gisin's musings (published work, not some popular interpretation of it:, are guaranteed to be not a step in any progress of the understanding of physics. Sorry.

Third, both are trying to get to an important point, but tend to miss it. The point is that it takes effort, time and resources to build useful models of observations. Thus, whether the gazillionth digit of pi is even or odd is not an absolute question (hence no law of excluded middle). It takes (agent-dependent) effort to calculate it, and until you yourself ascertain which it is, if any, it's neither, not for you. You can assign probabilities to it being even and it being odd, and these probabilities might even add to one, but it is still possible that something would prevent you from ever calculating it, so all you can say is "If I ever get to calculate it, the result will be either even or odd." Note that you do not make a statement about some objective gazillionth digit of pi, only about your result of calculating it. You might make a mistake somewhere, for example. Or you might die before. So, intuitionism doesn't go far enough, because it's still trying to be "objective" while giving up most of the objectivity of the traditional mathematics.

Again, mathematical proofs are as much observations as anything else. Just because they happen in one's head or with a pencil on paper, they are still observations. Repeatable, given the right equipment (including the right brain, such as the one capable of proving some theorems), and so reliable under some conditions.

The above means that some of your example are better than others. Once you have the tools for manipulating infinite numbers, you don't have to expend a lot of effort doing so. The difficulty of calculating a far-away digit in the decimal expansion of pi has nothing to do with pi itself: you can perfectly well define it as the ratio of circumference to diameter, or as a limit of some series, or as 2*arcsin(1), or something else. You can even build a base-pi system of counting. Then you can complain how hard it is to find the umpteenth digit of decimal 1 in base pi! It doesn't mean that 1 is more complex or simpler than pi, all it means that certain calculations are harder than others, and the hardness depends on many things, including on who is doing the calculation and what tools they are using.

So the point is how hard to measure something, and that includes how much time it takes. Not any kind of correspondence with counting numbers taking longer.

Fourth, the idea that Einstein's equations are somehow unique in terms of being timeless is utterly false. Electromagnetism is often written in a covariant form as []A=J and dA=0, where A and J are spacetime quantities. Similarly, the Einstein equation can be cast as an initial value problem, with the time evolution being explicit, and it is done that way in all black hole collision simulations. Similarly, quantum mechanics can be written as a path integral, where time is just one of the variables.

So, Gisin attempts to use intuitionist math for physics are bound to be forgotten, as they add nothing to our understanding of either math or physics. Sadly, he missed the point.

Comment by shminux on Ethernet Is Worth It For Video Calls · 2020-04-12T03:29:49.075Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Back in 2001 I was working on an 802.11a implementation, and the standard made a huge deal of supporting guaranteed quality of service. I don't think any of these features ended up being used by most consumer-grade base stations or subscriber stations, hence the spikes of latency and marginal streaming properties.

Comment by shminux on What is the subjective experience of free will for agents? · 2020-04-12T03:24:07.939Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Thank you for taking your time to think about this approach, and I am happy it makes sense. I like your summary. Feel free to message me if you want to discuss this some more.

Comment by shminux on An Orthodox Case Against Utility Functions · 2020-04-08T03:39:44.338Z · score: 6 (5 votes) · LW · GW

First, I really like this shift in thinking, partly because it moves the needle toward an anti-realist position, where you don't even need to postulate an external world (you probably don't see it that way, despite saying "Everything is a subjective preference evaluation").

Second, I wonder if you need an even stronger restriction, not just computable, but efficiently computable, given that it's the agent that is doing the computation, not some theoretical AIXI. This would probably also change "too easily" in "those expectations aren't (too easily) exploitable to Dutch-book." to efficiently. Maybe it should be even more restrictive to avoid diminishing returns trying to squeeze every last bit of utility by spending a lot of compute.

Comment by shminux on Life as metaphor for everything else. · 2020-04-05T19:51:15.356Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

It makes sense to me that our views on consciousness are akin to Pasteur's views on vitalism, because the gap between what we observe (apparently conscious beings) and what we can explain (some simple interactions between neurons) is just so vast and murky.

Comment by shminux on What is the subjective experience of free will for agents? · 2020-04-05T19:43:01.578Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW
how do I talk about how someone makes a decision and what a decision is from outside the subjective uncertainty of being the agent in the time prior to when the decision is made.

I am confused... Are you asking how would Omega describe someone's decision-making process? That would be like watching an open-source program execute. For example, if you know that the optimization algorithm is steepest descent, and you know the landscape it is run on, you can see every step it makes, including picking one of several possible paths.

Comment by shminux on What is the subjective experience of free will for agents? · 2020-04-05T19:22:18.050Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Feel free to let me know either way, even if you find that the posts seem totally wrong or missing the point.

Comment by shminux on Implications of the Doomsday Argument for x-risk reduction · 2020-04-03T23:22:15.908Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Right. Either way, it's not a good argument to base one's decisions on.

Comment by shminux on Implications of the Doomsday Argument for x-risk reduction · 2020-04-03T23:05:06.068Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · LW · GW
What are your stances on the Doomsday Argument?

The doomsday argument strikes me as complete and utter misguided bullshit, notwithstanding the fact that smart and careful physicists have worked on it, including J. Richard Gott and Brandon Carter, whose work in actual physics I had used extensively in my research. There are plenty of good reasons for x-risk work, no need to invoke lousy ones. The main issue with the argument is the misuse of probability.

First, the argument assumes a specific distribution (usually uniform) a priory without any justification. Indeed one needs a probability distribution to meaningfully talk about probabilities, but there is no reason to pick one specific distribution over another until you have a useful reference class.

Second, the potential infinite expectation value makes any conclusions from the argument moot.

Basically, the Doomsday argument has zero predictive power. Consider a set of civilizations with a fixed number of humans at any given time, each existing for a finite time T, randomly distributed with a distribution function f(T), which does not necessarily have a finite expectation value, standard deviation or any other moments. Now, given a random person from a random civilization at the time t, the Doomsday argument tells them that their civilization will exist for about as long as it had so far. It gives you no clue at all about the shape of f(t) beyond it being non-zero (though maybe measure zero) at t.

Now, shall we lay this nonsense to rest and focus on something productive?

Comment by shminux on What is the subjective experience of free will for agents? · 2020-04-02T21:33:06.428Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It's a great post, just doesn't quite go far enough...

Comment by shminux on What is the subjective experience of free will for agents? · 2020-04-02T19:51:23.402Z · score: 7 (4 votes) · LW · GW

My answer is a rather standard compatibilist one, the algorithm in your brain produces the sensation of free will as an artifact of an optimization process.

There is nothing you can do about it (you are executing an algorithm, after all), but your subjective perception of free will may change as you interact with other algorithms, like me or Jessica or whoever. There aren't really any objective intentional "decisions", only our perception of them. Therefore there the decision theories are just byproducts of all these algorithms executing. It doesn't matter though, because you have no choice but to feel that decision theories are important.

So, watch the world unfold before your eyes, and enjoy the illusion of making decisions.

I wrote about this over the last few years:

Comment by shminux on Two Alternatives to Logical Counterfactuals · 2020-04-01T23:35:16.962Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm trying t understand where exactly in your approach you sneak in the free will...

Comment by shminux on Necessity and Warrant · 2020-04-01T05:03:27.536Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Another great post. I hope you elaborate on these Principles in your subsequent posts.

Comment by shminux on How special are human brains among animal brains? · 2020-04-01T04:59:59.597Z · score: 12 (6 votes) · LW · GW

According to this SSC book review, "the secret of our success" is the ability to learn culture + the accumulation of said culture, which seems a bit broader than ability to learn language + language that you describe.

Comment by shminux on Categorization of Meta-Ethical Theories (a flowchart) · 2020-03-30T18:35:03.491Z · score: 7 (4 votes) · LW · GW

*** Warning *** the link is a non-free Medium content, counts toward your 3 free articles per month. To work around it, use incognito mode.

Comment by shminux on How many people have died in China from Covid-19? · 2020-03-30T04:50:50.695Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Take anything RFA (and all RF* propaganda-focused reporting) says with a grain of salt and seek independent sources (instead). From wikipedia:

In 1999, Catharin Dalpino of the Brookings Institution, who served in the Clinton State Department as a deputy assistant secretary deputy for human rights, called Radio Free Asia "a waste of money." "Wherever we feel there is an ideological enemy, we're going to have a Radio Free Something," she says. Dalpino said she has reviewed scripts of Radio Free Asia's broadcasts and views the station's reporting as unbalanced. "They lean very heavily on reports by and about dissidents in exile. It doesn't sound like reporting about what's going on in a country.