Dissolving the Thread of Personal Identity 2014-05-25T06:36:18.024Z · score: 12 (15 votes)
MIRI Donation Collaboration Station 2014-04-29T14:11:15.791Z · score: 17 (22 votes)


Comment by skeptityke on Utility vs Probability: idea synthesis · 2015-03-28T17:31:58.761Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

"But the general result is that one can start with an AI with utility/probability estimate pair (u,P) and map it to an AI with pair (u',P) which behaves similarly to (u,P')"

Is this at all related to the Loudness metric mentioned in this paper? It seems like the two are related... (in terms of probability and utility blending together into a generalized "importance" or "loudness" parameter)

Comment by skeptityke on New paper from MIRI: "Toward idealized decision theory" · 2014-12-21T02:02:40.898Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Got it. Thank you!

Comment by skeptityke on New paper from MIRI: "Toward idealized decision theory" · 2014-12-21T01:27:35.120Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

What happens if it only considers the action if it both failed to find "PA+A()=x" inconsistent and found a proof that PA+A()=x proves U()=x? Do an inconsistency check first and only consider/compare the action if the inconsistency check fails.

Comment by skeptityke on New paper from MIRI: "Toward idealized decision theory" · 2014-12-21T00:19:20.655Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I had an idea, and was wondering what its fatal flaw was. For UDT, what happens if, instead of proving theorems of the form "actionx --> utilityx" , it proves theorems of the form "PA+actionx |- utilityx"?

At a first glance, this seems to remove the problem of spurious counterfactuals implying any utility value, but there's probably something big I'm missing.

Comment by skeptityke on 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2014-10-24T03:04:28.915Z · score: 46 (46 votes) · LW · GW


Comment by skeptityke on Baysian conundrum · 2014-10-13T15:14:13.420Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This is actually isomorphic to the absent-minded driver problem. If you precommit to going straight, there is a 50/50 chance of being at either one of the two indistinguishable points on the road. If you precommit to turning left, there is a nearly 100% chance of being at the first point on the road (Since you wouldn't continue on to the second road point with that strategy.) It seems like probability can be determined only after a strategy has been locked into place.

Comment by skeptityke on Open thread, Sept. 29 - Oct.5, 2014 · 2014-10-04T18:38:26.016Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Question for AI people in the crowd: To implement Bayes' Theorem, the prior of something must be known, and the conditional likelihood must be known. I can see how to estimate the prior of something, but for real-life cases, how could accurate estimates of P(A|X) be obtained?

Also, we talk about world-models a lot here, but what exactly IS a world-model?

Comment by skeptityke on [LINK] Article in the Guardian about CSER, mentions MIRI and paperclip AI · 2014-08-30T15:44:30.306Z · score: 15 (15 votes) · LW · GW

I'd call it a net positive. Along the axis of "Accept all interviews, wind up in some spectacularly abysmal pieces of journalism" and "Only allow journalism that you've viewed and edited", the quantity vs quality tradeoff, I suspect the best place to be would be the one where the writers who know what they're going to say in advance are filtered, and where the ones who make an actual effort to understand and summarize your position (even if somewhat incompetent) are engaged.

I don't think the saying "any publicity is good publicity" is true, but "shoddy publicity pointing in the right direction" might be.

I wonder how feasible it is to figure out journalist quality by reading past articles... Maybe ask people who have been interviewed by the person in the past how it went?

Comment by skeptityke on Persistent Idealism · 2014-08-28T05:34:20.187Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think there's an important distinction to be made between the different levels of earning to give. Really, there's a spectrum between "donate 5 percent of income" at one end, and "devote existence to resolving issue" at the other end. For humans trying to do the best they can, in fact, trying to scale up too fast can lead to severe burnout. So caring for yourself and having a good life and low stress is a good idea because it guards against burnout. It is better to donate a thousand dollars a month to resolve an issue than three thousand with an 80% chance of burnout. Slowly build up to higher points on the spectrum that don't give up quality of life.

Remember, the goal is to do that which works, not to win a "I'm way more hardcore about charity than you!" contest. If that which works leads to sacrifice and you can handle it without burnout risk, then sacrifice. If self-sacrifice doesn't work for solving the issue, then don't do it. And yes, aligning oneself with the people working on it and supplying them with resources is pretty much exactly what is required in many cases. Earning to give comes from the fact that the "supplying them with resources" step works much better with more resources, and working at high paying jobs is a good way to get resources.

And finally, about not understanding why someone would completely change their lifestyle to help as many as people as possible... Lifestyle changes tend to look really intimidating from the outside, not from the inside. In college, as an example, going "I'm taking >20 credits" makes people mightily impressed and worried about your inevitable lack of a social life, but once you actually start doing it, it doesn't feel extraordinary or hard from the inside. Dropping annual expenses from 60k to 15k is another thing that sounds intimidating, but from the inside, it isn't that difficult, and quality of life doesn't significantly change.

So that's one part of it, that it doesn't take as much of a sacrifice as you think. The second part of it is that if there is anything at all that you value more than the thing you would spend the money on instead, moving the money to the more highly valued thing is inevitable if you don't compartmentalize. I value ten lives more highly than purchasing a shiny new car, and I suspect that most people would agree with this. It's just a matter of acting on preexisting values and desires.

Comment by skeptityke on Persistent Idealism · 2014-08-28T01:44:46.665Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The reason to make lots of money to give it away is elaborated on here, in the paragraph about the lawyer who wants to clean up the beach.

Summary version: More charities are funding-limited than volunteer-limited, and if you are making a sufficient amount of money, working one extra hour and donating the proceeds from that hour gets more done, saves more people, than using that hour to volunteer. The important part is to actually save people.

Saving people is far more important than giving consistently (If the best way to save people is to give each month, I want to give each month, if the best way to save people is to donate large chunks infrequently, I want to donate large chunks infrequently), saving people is far more important than having a good attitude towards giving (If having a good attitude towards giving makes me donate more, I want to have a good attitude towards giving, if having a selfish attitude towards giving makes me donate more, I want to have a selfish attitude), and saving people is far more important than spiritually developing in the process (I trust you can complete the pattern). I'm not saying these things are bad, it's just that they are subgoals of the thing you are trying to accomplish, which is doing the most good. Making a great deal to give it away, and making sure you don't backslide into selfishness are things to do to ensure that the most people can be saved. Regular giving is secondary in importance.

The goal is not fitting conventional patterns of giving, the goal is to help as many people as possible. To try to get a high score in the LIVES IMPROVED statistics column of the game of life. If something helps in this quest, do it, if it doesn't help, stop doing it.

Comment by skeptityke on Avoiding doomsday: a "proof" of the self-indication assumption · 2014-08-20T18:32:47.807Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Just taking a wild shot at this one, but I suspect that the mistake is between C and D. In C, you start with an even distribution over all the people in the experiment, and then condition on surviving. In D, your uncertainty gets allocated among the people who have survived the experiment. Once you know the rules, in C, the filter is in your future, and in D, the filter is in your past.

Comment by skeptityke on MIRI's 2014 Summer Matching Challenge · 2014-08-16T01:23:22.276Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Just sent 40 bucks your way. Though I am a college student, I decided that I wanted to begin a donation habit so future me is less likely to go "All discretionary income will be used on me personally". Thus, this.

Comment by skeptityke on MIRI's 2014 Summer Matching Challenge · 2014-08-14T22:33:29.126Z · score: 9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

When I last looked at the bar, it had 99 donors and ~80k dollars donated, and now it has 104 donors and ~190k dollars donated. From this, I can deduce that somebody donated a whole hell of a lot of money.

Positive reinforcement for the donor! Group approval for the benefactor! High fives and internet hugs all around!

Comment by skeptityke on Open thread, August 4 - 10, 2014 · 2014-08-06T18:12:59.846Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Physics puzzle: Being exposed to cold air while the wind is blowing causes more heat loss/feels colder than simply being exposed to still cold air.

So, if the ambient air temperature is above body temperature, and ignoring the effects of evaporation, would a high wind cause more heat gain/feel warmer than still hot air?

Comment by skeptityke on MIRI 2014 Summer Matching Challenge and one-off opportunity to donate *for free* · 2014-08-06T01:02:50.823Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

6450 stellar sent. For some reason, it took several days to receive the stellar, and I did not receive the 1000 free stellar, instead I got 6500.

Comment by skeptityke on August 2014 Media Thread · 2014-08-02T19:22:04.113Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Further recommendations. Twice as many this time.

(remember, feedback on which songs were good and which ones sucked, possibly by PM, helps tailor recommendations to what you like.)

Setsugetsuka (Yukari) Another Yukari song since you seem to like those.

Lonesome Cat (Miku) Rock song about a cat. Funny.

Tori No Uta (IA) Cover of a song originally by the voice provider. Probably the best example of vocal tuning I've yet come across.

Cloud Rider (IA) Quite energetic, and one of the more prominent IA songs.

Smile Again (Miku, Gumi) I'm pretty sure this song needs to be classified as some sort of mood-altering drug.

And now for the electronic/dance/trance songs. They get more calming as you approach the bottom.

Twilight Star (IA) The first IA song I ever found. Still pretty nice.

Solosail Remix (Miku Dark Append) In a similar vein as Lost Memories and Idiolect. Feel free to let your impressions of those songs direct your interest in this one.

Unlimited Blue (Luka) It's always nice to see a non-Miku trance song. I mean, there are a lot of really good ones with Hatsune Miku, but the percentage is too high.

Starport (Yukari) Very calming and perfect at the end of a long day.

Planetarium (IA) The single most sleep-inducing Vocaloid song I know of. In a good way.

Oh, btw, for Yumemidori, this is the official upload of the creator which won't be taken down.

Comment by skeptityke on Fifty Shades of Self-Fulfilling Prophecy · 2014-07-23T16:58:12.974Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

This seems highly exploitable.

Anyone here want to try to use these bogus numbers to get a publisher to market their own fanfiction?

Comment by skeptityke on Top-Down and Bottom-Up Logical Probabilities · 2014-07-22T18:29:55.927Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I disagree strongly, but here is a prototype of one anyways.

There are top-down and bottom-up approaches to logical probabilities. Top-down approaches typically involve distributions selected to fit certain properties, and, while being elegant and easy to apply math to, are often quite uncomputable. Bottom-up approaches take an agent with some information, and ask what they should do to assign probabilities/find out more, leading to a more "hacky" probability distribution, but they also tend to be easier to compute. Interestingly enough, given limited computing resources, these two sorts of distributions have distinct similarities. They both involve a starting probability distribution modified by iterated consistency checks.

Did I get it mostly right?

Comment by skeptityke on Politics is hard mode · 2014-07-22T02:53:22.375Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW


Yes, we need to shift emphasis from "boo politics" to "politics is a much more difficult topic to discuss rationally than others".

But "hard mode" doesn't have nearly the emotional kick needed to dissuade the omnipresent Dunning-Kruger effect in politics. Running with the video game metaphor, I'm thinking something more along the lines of the feeling of great apprehension induced before playing I Wanna Be The Guy, Kaizo Mario, or the Zero Mercy Minecraft maps. But all the phrases used to refer to that particular cluster of challenges are either inapplicable to politics, or have the connotation of "foolish mortal, how dare you think you can challenge such an obviously impossible task bwahaha". (Like Nightmare Mode)

Is there a compact phrase which has the connotations of "Whoo boy, I'm probably getting in way over my head with this thing"?

Comment by skeptityke on July 2014 Media Thread · 2014-07-16T17:45:09.015Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Due to the preposterous number of Vocaloid songs out there, "best" in practice often means "personal favorites of the limited subset the person you are talking to has heard of". Vocaloid seems to follow Sturgeon's Law, as does everything else with low barriers to entry (like fanfiction), but fortunately, it doesn't take much time to check whether a given song is good, so hunting for hidden gems is a fairly fruitful activity as far as Vocaloid songs go. A useful site for this task is VocaDB

Endorsing Gwern's response below, here are five that I'd say are fairly decent.

Not is Destination The producer, Aerial Flow (that's his channel, by the way, poke around on it) is one of the best trance producers in the community, and there's quite a bit more stuff by him that I wanted to link but didn't.

Lost Memories A fairly nice Dark Append song that is tuned higher than the one you linked, but that I still suspect you may like. Not quite sure what to class it as.

Everlasting Love First song I listened to where I went "I like the vocal tuning on this one." Piano ballad.

Yumemidori Yes, it isn't Miku. Yes, it isn't electronic, it's guitar and drums. I'm still pretty enamored by it.

Idiolect Another popular techno song with the Dark Append.

Comment by skeptityke on Rationality Quotes July 2014 · 2014-07-07T15:12:34.040Z · score: 17 (17 votes) · LW · GW

The part after it was about how bad guys tend to be like people who have overspecialized in a less useful skill. You will never be able to beat them at what they do, but you don't need to. Said in the context of a very under-powered protagonist. Time for the rest of the quote, though it makes less and less sense as time goes on.

Everyone who will ever oppose you in life is a crazy, burly dude with a spoon, and you will never be able to outspoon them. Even the powerful people, they’re just spooning harder and more vigorously than everyone else, like hungry orphan children eating soup. Except the soup is power. I’ll level with you here: I have completely lost track of this analogy.

Comment by skeptityke on Rationality Quotes July 2014 · 2014-07-07T02:16:05.936Z · score: 13 (15 votes) · LW · GW

It wasn’t easier, the ghost explains, you just knew how to do it. Sometimes the easiest method you know is the hardest method there is.

It’s like… to someone who only knows how to dig with a spoon, the notion of digging something as large as a trench will terrify them. All they know are spoons, so as far as they’re concerned, digging is simply difficult. The only way they can imagine it getting any easier is if they change – digging with a spoon until they get stronger, faster, and tougher. And the dangerous people, they’ll actually try this.

-Aggy, from Prequel.

On the importance of looking for more efficient ways to do things.

Comment by skeptityke on An Attempt at Logical Uncertainty · 2014-06-30T16:16:05.550Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

To add to the hail of links, you might want to inspect the big official MIRI progress report on the problem here.

Also, though i know quite a bit less about this topic than the other people here (correct me if I'm wrong somebody), I'm a little suspicious of this distribution because I don't see any way to approximate the length of the shortest proof. Given an unproven mathematical statement for which you aren't sure whether it is true or false, how could you establish even a rough estimate of how hard it is to prove in the absence of actually trying to prove it?

Comment by skeptityke on Open thread, 23-29 June 2014 · 2014-06-25T18:33:33.472Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Silly question for people who work at MIRI: If you had the choice between receiving one flash drive from the 5-year-future MIRI employees, and acquiring one year's supply of NZT-48, which would you pick?

Comment by skeptityke on Open thread, 23-29 June 2014 · 2014-06-24T00:52:41.508Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

What do the physicists on here think of Sean Carroll's attempt at deriving the Born rule here?

Is it correct, interesting but flawed, wrong, or what?

Comment by skeptityke on Utilitarianism and Relativity Realism · 2014-06-22T04:49:47.201Z · score: 10 (12 votes) · LW · GW

Instead of measuring "bad events per unit of time measured from the other person's point of view", wouldn't "bad events per unit of subjective time" be a much better metric which doesn't fall prey to this paradox?

And why are you bothering to distinguish between "there is no true preferred rest frame" and "there is a true rest frame which is perfectly indistinguishable from all the other moving ones"? They both make the exact same predictions, so why not just fold them into one hypothesis? What does that little epiphenominal tag hanging off one of them get you? Just because relativity is derivable from some fairly basic starting conditions doesn't seem to imply that there is an indistinguishable true rest frame to me, though I may be missing something obvious.

Comment by skeptityke on June 2014 Media Thread · 2014-06-16T18:09:50.895Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The Universal Death Clock In short, this video displays a 43-part clock in Minecraft which pulses once every 1.3 googol years, and uses that to talk about universal heat death and deep time. It's somewhat chilling to watch, and provides a nice system of units to use for talking about really long times. 3 trillion years is 8 Death Clock Units (DCU's).

Also, figuring out how long energy could be generated in the universe is an interesting mental exercise. I think I figured out how to generate power until 15 DCU's.

Comment by skeptityke on Open thread, 9-15 June 2014 · 2014-06-13T18:31:07.215Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I was trying to figure out how big 3^^^3 was, which led to the following interesting math result. How high would a power tower of 3's have to be to surpass a googolplex raised to the googolplexth power? For what value of X is (3^^X)>(googolplex^^2)? I don't have the full answer, but an upper bound for X is 16. A power tower of 3's 16 high is guaranteed to be vastly larger than a googolplex raised to itself. And when you consider that 3^^^3 is a power tower 7.6 trillion 3's tall... it's way larger than I thought.

Comment by skeptityke on New organization - Future of Life Institute (FLI) · 2014-06-13T17:27:35.561Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

What would you say is the most effective organization to donate to to reduce artificial biology X-risks?

Comment by skeptityke on Group Rationality Diary, June 1-15 · 2014-06-13T17:17:56.516Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Actually, that gives me an idea. I've noticed that I have difficulty reducing goof-off internet time below about 90 min/day, so I'll only work on it to funge against internet time.

Comment by skeptityke on Group Rationality Diary, June 1-15 · 2014-06-04T05:07:23.117Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

I just made this decision about 5 minutes ago, so I'm posting it here as some form of commitment to stick to it.

A while ago, I decided to make a Minecraft adventure map. An embarrassing amount of time was invested into making it, but sizable progress was made in that time. That's what kept me going. The feeling of making progress on a big personal project.

But taking an outside view on it...

How much time will it take to complete? A whole hell of a lot more.

What could I do in that time instead? Make more friends, learn a programming language or two, plenty of stuff.

What will probably happen if it is completed? I will probably get a few dozen downloads of the map and that's it.

What benefits will accrue by completing it? Not enough to justify the time spent on it.

Somebody is calling this project an example of the Sunk Cost Fallacy. How would I respond? Hang my head in shame.

Is it fun? Somewhat, but much more fun things could probably be done with the time instead.

So I give up. It's a really huge sunk cost by this point, and it feels terrible that I used so much time on something I just abandoned halfway through, but every time I imagine what someone smarter than me would say, it is some variant of "Finally you realize it now." Time to walk away from Minecraft, permanently.

Comment by skeptityke on Dissolving the Thread of Personal Identity · 2014-05-26T02:06:45.112Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, the answer to that question is mind dependent. But this isn't really a big deal. If a person decides that there is an 80% probability that a banana will appear in front of them, their P(A banana will appear in front of me) is 0.8. If a Midwesterner decides that they are guaranteed not to be in Kansas after waking up from a coma, their P(I am in Kansas) is about 0. If I decide that I am definitely not a brain in a vat, my P(I am a vat brain) is about 0.

I suspect there is still some way to get non-stupid probabilities out of this mess from a series of observations by observer-moments, though I don't know how to do it. Intuitively, the problem with deciding that your P(I am a vat brain) is 0 is that your pre-existing series of observations could have been made by a vat brain.

Comment by skeptityke on Dissolving the Thread of Personal Identity · 2014-05-25T12:47:36.235Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Sure! I'll contribute some thoughts. Just send me a draft.

Comment by skeptityke on MIRI Donation Collaboration Station Redux: The Final Push (IMPORTANT) · 2014-05-08T06:02:53.695Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

MIRI did not win the 250k in upgrades. However, ~ 110k was raised total that day with ~50k worth of donations, and 21/24 2000 dollar golden tickets were picked up by them, which is pretty damn good. The group cooperation strategy was quite effective. Examine the sidebar on the left of this page.

Comment by skeptityke on Calling all MIRI supporters for unique May 6 giving opportunity! · 2014-05-07T02:50:56.100Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Sorry to respond here, but it's a bit important. We are actually behind first place by about 8 donors, so recruiting an extra 8+ people total may allow us to win the grand prize.

Comment by skeptityke on Calling all MIRI supporters for unique May 6 giving opportunity! · 2014-05-07T01:52:57.322Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

This is somewhat important:

We suspect that anonymous donations don't count towards the "unique donations" total, so if you are donating, please register your name to ensure that you are counted.

Thank you!

Comment by skeptityke on Calling all MIRI supporters for unique May 6 giving opportunity! · 2014-05-06T23:52:44.648Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Only 40 donations have been made this hour, so would anybody else mind chipping in? They would probably be very high value donations, since it seems to be a bit below the threshold required to win an hour.

Comment by skeptityke on Calling all MIRI supporters for unique May 6 giving opportunity! · 2014-05-06T16:27:42.773Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Miscellaneous thoughts:

It's very heartening to see so many of these golden tickets so far having gone our way. Go team! Yay for group cooperation! \(n_n)/

I am a bit confused about what happened at 3 and 4 AM, though. Since the early morning hours were being targeted specifically, did the other charities cooperate and focus their efforts specifically on those time slots, or were there just not enough people awake to win at those times?

EDIT: Apparently, the people running the fundraiser initially accidentally had it set up so that each organization was only capable of winning one hourly golden ticket, and after MIRI contacted them, they fixed it, permitting that 20-ticket winning streak.

(Also, DAMN do the matching funds run out fast. Yeah, that makes going for the 2000 dollar tickets rather than the matching funds a much better strategy than I expected. I didn't realize that the matching fund pool was for all charities combined.)

(And even though MIRI almost certainly would have come up with this strategy without the previous post on the matter, I’m still getting fuzzies by proxy for feeling like I helped raise awareness/strategize.)

Comment by skeptityke on MIRI Donation Collaboration Station · 2014-04-30T03:09:26.591Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not sure, but I don't think we will have access to the number of people who donated for all the other charities. And I suspect that something may be wrong in the math, because that strategy of "donate every minute until 2000 donations occur total" would lead to badly overfilling that hour with donations if, say, 1800 donations were made on behalf of all the other charities.

That math looks like you are calculating the expected value of a raffle ticket randomly awarded to one donor with a value of 2000$.

But instead, the 2000$ is awarded to the charity that received the most donations in one hour. So we just have to donate more times than the second most-donated-to charity.

The opportunity cost bound, with the information that Alexi gave, is 200 donations of 10$. If it ever takes more than 200 donations to get the 2000$, more money could have been earned during the 1-1 dollar matching hour.

So I suspect a good strategy would be to pick a set of off-peak hours where few people are donating, and split up the donations during those times to secure multiple 2000$ prizes with a low(ish) number of donations. Maybe use the success or failure of X number of donations during one off-peak hour to estimate how many donations to do during the next off-peak hour?

Of course, all this assumes that the behavior of the other donors conforms to the normal human diurnal cycle. If they are sufficiently crafty, the multiple charities that have this idea and people willing to wake up at 3 AM may make those hours prohibitively expensive.

I doubt it though. Maybe the European Less Wrong readers could donate during those times so those on the west coast don't have to wake up at terrible hours?

And does anyone want to set up a prediction market to estimate the number of donors for the second-largest charity during the 1-6 window?

EDIT: Assuming we do 100 donations of 10 dollars each per hour for those 5 hours, and no other charity can muster 100 donations per hour.... (If we can get the prize for less than 100 donations in one hour, the expected value is greater than donating during the 2-1 matching hour) it should only take ~$5000 earmarked for that time period to get 5 2000 dollar prizes. That looks doable.

Comment by skeptityke on MIRI Donation Collaboration Station · 2014-04-30T00:14:36.369Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It seems like one of the biggest issues will be making sure donors know what other donors are doing during this time period, to prevent overfilling of matching funds, to make sure the right number of people try to spike the donation box at 5, and to coordinate Tyler's "split up donations" idea during non-peak hours. Maybe there could be a single comment here that is being edited through the day so donors know what the best thing to do at that time is? (preliminary idea)

Comment by skeptityke on Open Thread April 16 - April 22, 2014 · 2014-04-16T17:42:03.541Z · score: 8 (10 votes) · LW · GW

What are the most effective charities working towards reducing biotech or pandemic x-risk? I see those mentioned here occasionally as the second most important x-risk behind AI risk, but I haven't seen much discussion on the most effective ways to fund their prevention. Have I missed something?

Comment by skeptityke on Making LessWrong notable enough for its own Wikipedia page · 2014-03-14T05:26:40.792Z · score: 11 (13 votes) · LW · GW

I'd be quite cautious about seeking greater media coverage without a plan to deal with an "Eternal September" on Less Wrong.

Comment by skeptityke on Habitual Productivity · 2014-01-10T04:06:58.179Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

One of my keys for productivity/unproductivity is that when I get interested in something, I become completely locked in on it. I have noticed that trying to stop a timewaster is rather futile while it is in progress, so I've developed a strong aversion towards taking on new distractions, obligations, or anything that will waste my time, because not starting in the first place is my point of greatest control over what I will be doing. This is one of the few areas where procrastination actually can help. If somebody tells me about some interesting thing I should be playing/watching/doing, I will either not care at all and quickly forget about it, find an excuse to avoid it, intentionally ignore it, summon my inner critic to repeatedly point out how much of a waste of time it is, or think "I'll follow up on this later, after some Minecraft." and never do so. Extreme laziness in the face of time-wasting obligations (which video games and shows count as) is a useful thing to cultivate for me, and my definition of time-wasting is quite a bit broader than that of my friends, though narrower than So8res definition.

The corollary for me is that if I can force myself to do something interesting and difficult for about a week or two, it can turn into a fairly strong passion.

Comment by skeptityke on December Monthly Bragging Thread · 2013-12-05T05:25:26.806Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

First thing that comes to mind that I just did tonight...I stumbled across a probability "paradox", noticed that it had an infinity in it, got suspicious, expressed it in a form with finite population size, and took the limit as the population size went to infinity, and what do you know... the paradox vanished in a puff of canceling fractions.

Comment by skeptityke on Lotteries & MWI · 2013-11-19T05:07:31.964Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

This is another website that may be of use. Just fire it up for a while, pause the stream of numbers, and do what you will with them. It is guaranteed to be quantum-random.

Comment by skeptityke on Decoherence as Projection · 2013-11-03T19:10:33.385Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Well, it isn't quite that, but I made an analogue of it prompted by that exact same thought. Movie 3-d glasses are polarized (the two slightly different images on the screen have orthogonal polarizations, so each image only goes through one lens), so if you can sneak two or more pairs of 3-d glasses out of a movie theater, you can pop the lenses out of one pair, and tape them on the other pair (rotated so that almost all light is canceled out.) The resulting cross-polarized improvised glasses are so dark, that if you made them just right, it is possible to stare straight at the sun and see sunspots. However, this makes them quite useless for most other purposes.

Comment by skeptityke on Group Rationality Diary, November 1-15 · 2013-11-03T18:21:34.186Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I've been keeping it up for about 2/3rds of a month by now, so it seems to have worked quite well: I have made my first major step towards being productive. I did it with several tricks.

One: At the end of every day, make a to-do list for tomorrow, and set it as my computer background. Now, every time I get on the computer, I am reminded of which task I am supposed to do.

Two: Logging where all my time goes. I can look at the weeks and identify productive and non-productive times, have ready outside view information available on how long something will take, etc.

Three: (Well, I'm still in the process of forming this habit. Not solidified yet.) I set things up so that every time I get on the internet, an online timer pops up. It forces me to precommit to how long I want to be on. If it rings and I am not doing important work, I get off immediately. Plus, it forces only checking important sites.

Four: Having an imaginary friend to brainstorm future plans with, bounce new ideas off of, stare judgmentally at me if I am doing some outrageously useless thing, give advice, provide helpful daily reminders, and talk about feelings with. Very effective in getting me to switch from "This sucks" mode into "What can be done about this?" mode.

Something I've noticed about productivity: It only provides a marginal speedup in getting work done. The total amount of things to do remains the same. The main advantage is that it turns all the little "procrastination breaks" through the day into an hour or two of free time all in one big chunk. It consolidates non-used time so something cool can be done with it. And I now rarely have to stress about deadlines. I have only had to use caffeine once in the past month.

Comment by skeptityke on Change the labels, undo infinitely good improvements · 2013-11-02T23:53:43.560Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It doesn't work for all problems, but the provided problems become much more manageable when you look at the magnitude and number of utility changes, rather than the magnitude and number of utilities. I could be horribly wrong, but looking at the set of utility changes rather than the set of utilities seems like it could be a productive line of inquiry.

Comment by skeptityke on Living in Many Worlds · 2013-09-29T19:34:55.979Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

If you are ever interested in actually using quantum randomness to base a decision off of, whether you are up against a highly accurate predictor, can't decide between two fun activities for the day, or something else where splitting yourself may be of use, then there is a very helpful quantum random number generator here. Simply precommit to one decision in case the ending digit is a 0, and another if the ending digit is a 1, and look at this webpage. Right Here.

Comment by skeptityke on Open thread, August 19-25, 2013 · 2013-08-31T17:20:15.746Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Um... In the HPMOR notes section, this little thing got mentioned.

"I am auctioning off A Day Of My Time, to do with as the buyer pleases – this could include delivering a talk at your company, advising on your fiction novel in progress, applying advanced rationality skillz to a problem which is tying your brain in knots, or confiding the secret answer to the hard problem of conscious experience (it’s not as exciting as it sounds). I retain the right to refuse bids which would violate my ethics or aesthetics. Disposition of funds as above."

That sounds like really exciting news to me, TBH. Someone seriously needs to bid. There are less than 7 hours left and nobody has taken him up on the offer.