How Many Worlds? 2011-12-14T14:51:26.602Z · score: 2 (17 votes)


Comment by smk on Open thread, Sep. 26 - Oct. 02, 2016 · 2016-09-26T23:50:14.983Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Has Sam Harris stated his opinion on the orthogonality thesis anywhere?

Comment by smk on Open Thread April 11 - April 17, 2016 · 2016-04-11T23:07:56.078Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Polyamory indeed, sorry to be unclear.

Comment by smk on Open Thread April 11 - April 17, 2016 · 2016-04-11T07:56:51.268Z · score: 15 (17 votes) · LW · GW

Just musing on how LW has had a profound impact on my life. It was a strong influence in my deconversion from theism, it's helped me make significant medical decisions, and I'm in love with someone I met at a LessWrong meetup, as well as another person whose first interaction with me was a Bayes theorem joke.

Comment by smk on How to deal with Santa Claus? · 2015-01-02T10:09:59.435Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Believing in Santa was not acceptable to my Christian fundamentalist parents. However, they also had the excuse of being immigrants, so they implied (and perhaps it's even true) that believing in Santa was not common in their culture: "The children in this country think that Santa is real. I don't know why their parents want them to believe in fairytales!" I was never told to hide the truth from other kids, and I don't recall if the subject ever came up in my interactions with other kids. We still had Christmas gifts, a tree, sang Christmas songs, and even took pictures sitting on Santa's lap at the mall. I just understood that it was all for the sake of participating in fun customs.

I think the main result of this was to teach me to feel comfortable with being different. But there were lots of other things in my upbringing as well that had this same effect.

Comment by smk on Is it immoral to have children? · 2013-10-25T09:50:03.238Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

My preferred transhumanist "eutopia" is one where people generally do not die, and new people generally are not created, but if for some reason people do have to be created, they are created with adult-level competencies such as I described above.

I think that the vast majority of people who currently have parental desires would not get to satisfy those desires in my eutopia, because their desires can only be satisfied in a world with a class of temporarily less-competent people. Are you suggesting that "people whose parental desires can only be satisfied in a world with a class of temporarily less-competent people" are dysfunctional, and not really the majority as I suspect? If so, then what state of affairs is required for the majority of parental desires be satisfied? Could they do it in my eutopia? If they could do it in my eutopia, then it seems like they could do that same thing in this world in a relationship with an adult, and not have to create a brand-new child at all.

Comment by smk on Is it immoral to have children? · 2013-10-24T19:44:01.022Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Of course I chose that word because it's vague. I guess, if I have to narrow it down, it's a feeling that something is disrespectful.

I think people's reasons for having kids usually fall into one of the following categories:

  1. It's what normal people do, so I'll just go with the flow.
  2. I have an emotional desire for a parent-child relationship.
  3. I want someone to take care of me when I'm old.
  4. I want an extension of myself to provide me with a kind of proxy immortality.

It might be more obvious why I find 1, 3, and 4 to be disrespectful? So I'll just talk about 2, which I suspect includes the kind of "liking kids" that you are talking about.

Imagine that, from now on, as soon as a baby is born, it will be instantly granted certain benefits. The baby is given the size, strength, and agility of an adult. They get the intellectual capacity of an adult. They get an assortment of knowledge and skills implanted into their minds, well-suited to independent living in their society, and proof of having those skills. They get the wisdom, rationality, and emotional skills of an adult. But they do not get any episodic memories implanted. They don't come pre-loaded with any emotional attachments to specific people, which is just fine, because they have great emotional and self-care skills to support them as they meet various people and decide who they want to form relationships with.

Does this even count as a child anymore? Would a relationship with this person satisfy the parental desire in #2? I bet it wouldn't. All because the person is no longer weaker or more incompetent than the "parent", and is free to form emotional attachments of their choice based on getting to know people. Liking kids, specifically as kids, usually amounts to liking the weakness and vulnerability of kids. I have heard some people say that what they like about kids is their "innocence" but I don't believe in this innocence thing, except as a euphemism for ignorance. I cannot think of a single thing about my child psyche which was better than my adult psyche. My child self was more trusting, which I bet many adults liked, but I think my current state of being less trusting is better, and therefore the fact that those adults liked that about me was disrespectful--it was liking my weakness. Some adults may have enjoyed teaching me things. That is a case of them enjoying my ignorance.

I'm not so put off by people wanting to adopt kids, because they see a need that they feel well-suited to fill. But creating a brand-new kid because you want a relationship specifically with a small, weak, ignorant person who is almost guaranteed to love you? Icky.

Comment by smk on Is it immoral to have children? · 2013-10-24T17:34:17.098Z · score: -1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Doing it to improve the world is maybe ok? Kind of still a bit icky though. But as this article suggests, it might not be such a good way of improving the world compared to other ways, and anyway I don't think it's a primary reason that most parents have. What non-icky reasons can you think of?

Comment by smk on Is it immoral to have children? · 2013-10-24T16:33:06.504Z · score: -3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Probably immoral, yeah. But why would you even want a child in the first place? All I can think of are really icky reasons.

Comment by smk on As an upload, would you join the society of full telepaths/empaths? · 2013-10-16T08:14:37.063Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I probably would not join, but I would try to research it to figure out why people who join usually like it. Depending on what I learned, I could change my mind.

What I would prefer is to have the option of sending/receiving thoughts/emotions/memories when and with whom I choose, with consent of those involved. Other mental abilities would of course have to be implemented as well, to allow this kind of telepathy to be manageable.

Comment by smk on Open Thread, October 13 - 19, 2013 · 2013-10-14T05:23:41.625Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Awhile back I posted a comment on the open thread about the feasibility of permanent weight-loss. (Basically: is it a realistic goal?) I didn't get a response, so I'm linking it here to try again. Please respond here instead of there. Note: most likely some of my links to studies in that comment are no longer valid, but at least the citations are there if you want to look those up.

Comment by smk on Policy Debates Should Not Appear One-Sided · 2013-10-14T05:02:36.415Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

how can anyone deserve anything?

They can't. The whole idea of "deserving" is... icky. I try not to use it in figuring out my own morals, although I do sometimes use the word "deserve" in casual speech/thought. When I'm trying to be more conscientious and less casual, I don't use it.

Comment by smk on More "Stupid" Questions · 2013-08-07T17:01:28.291Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

And someone people aren't either one. Polyamory isn't the only kind of non-monogamy, and of course there are those who don't do sexual and/or romantic relationships at all.

Comment by smk on Why Eat Less Meat? · 2013-07-27T00:55:22.128Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I don't particularly care about biodiversity, except if it offers some benefit to people. I suppose it might offer opportunities for increasing knowledge/understanding of biology/chemistry. Why do other people care about it?

Comment by smk on Why Eat Less Meat? · 2013-07-27T00:28:26.618Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think there's much we can do now to ensure successful colonization

Existential risk reduction charities?

Comment by smk on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 25, chapter 96 · 2013-07-26T23:47:51.873Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Being a transhumanist, and being good at the kind of mental gymnastics that allowed him to do partial transfiguration, Harry might be able to change his Patronus into any form he likes if he tries hard enough. We know mental stuff can change Patronuses in canon: Tonks' Patronus changed due to her feelings for Lupin, though she didn't do it on purpose.

Comment by smk on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 22, chapter 93 · 2013-07-07T08:10:03.209Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

The episodic nature of this story is wearing on me a bit. I'm not talking about wanting to know what happens and having to wait for that knowledge to be doled out bit by bit. That's pretty much fine. It's the feeling that there's a grand overarching plot that's being distracted from by Plots of the Month. Even if the PotM do contribute to the overall plot--and they probably do--it feels like they do so in a rather meandering, patchwork way. Where's my beloved "use science to figure out the nature of magic, and use that to cure death for everyone" plotline? Will we finally get back to it now that Hermione's dead?

Comment by smk on How to Write Deep Characters · 2013-06-18T10:20:24.716Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, shows like that are very popular, and I'm getting really sick of it. I don't understand it, but I don't really think that it's false sophistication. Or courageous self-examination.

Comment by smk on Open Thread, June 2-15, 2013 · 2013-06-06T10:35:34.415Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I was confused by the way he was using the term "non-determinism". Then I read this:

It's important to understand that computer scientists use the term "nondeterministic" differently from how it's typically used in other sciences. A nondeterministic TM is actually deterministic in the physics sense

-Theoretical Computer Science Stack Exchange

Assuming that person was correct, then it seems like Aaronson is responding to an argument that uses the physics sense of "non-determined", but replying with the CS sense--which I'm thinking makes a difference in this case. But that's just what it seems like to me--I must be misunderstanding something (probably a lot of things).

Comment by smk on Open Thread, June 2-15, 2013 · 2013-06-05T21:13:26.111Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'd really like it if someone could explain to me what Aaronson is saying here:

I've often heard the argument which says that not only is there no free will, but the very concept of free will is incoherent. Why? Because either our actions are determined by something, or else they're not determined by anything, in which case they're random. In neither case can we ascribe them to "free will."

For me, the glaring fallacy in the argument lies in the implication Not Determined ⇒ Random. If that was correct, then we couldn't have complexity classes like NP---we could only have BPP. The word "random" means something specific: it means you have a probability distribution over the possible choices. In computer science, we're able to talk perfectly coherently about things that are non-deterministic, but not random.

Look, in computer science we have many different sources of non-determinism. Arguably the most basic source is that we have some algorithm, and we don't know in advance what input it's going to get. If it were always determined in advance what input it was going to get, then we'd just hardwire the answer. Even talking about algorithms in the first place, we've sort of inherently assumed the idea that there's some agent that can freely choose what input to give the algorithm.

-PHYS 771 Lecture

Comment by smk on Morality should be Moral · 2013-05-29T06:59:25.662Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

On #4, I'm fine with my morality existing for it's own sake. I don't need a justification for the things from which I derive justification.

Comment by smk on Physicists To Test If Universe Is A Computer Simulation (link) · 2013-04-23T07:45:46.193Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

In the absence of other evidence, could you not use some sort of complexity measure to estimate that, if our universe is being simulated, the simulating universe is more likely to have simpler laws than more complex ones? (And maybe even that having no simulating universe--meaning our universe is not a simulation--is even simpler, and therefore more likely?) But I have no idea what the actual difference in probabilities would be, if you could.

Comment by smk on [SEQ RERUN] Building Weirdtopia · 2013-02-10T02:51:19.693Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

You're right, cake would have been more appropriate. :) (Except I love pie way more.)

Comment by smk on [SEQ RERUN] Building Weirdtopia · 2013-02-10T02:45:01.105Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Well, people usually enjoy yummy food even if they have no, uh... co-eating attraction? to the person they're eating it with. Something like "co-eating attraction" could exist, maybe there are people out there who have that, where they experience an arousal of their gustatory desires in response to another person, but I don't think that's typical. (I hope it's clear that what I'm talking about is different from the quite common phenomenon of food being more enjoyable when other factors, such as the company, ambiance, etc. are also enjoyable.)

Sexual attraction, on the other hand, is a common thing, and people's enjoyment of sex is often strongly related to their attraction to the person they're having sex with. Of course, it's also possible for some people to enjoy sex without being at all attracted to the person they're having sex with, but that's not the typical scenario, is it? If I tried really hard for a long time, maybe I could learn to enjoy sex with a woman despite being exclusively androsexual, but I'm not at all confident that I could.

So yes, sex can be non-attractional like pie, but it's more commonly thought of as being strongly attractional. It's that attraction part that my weirdtopia doesn't have. People in my weirdtopia could still enjoy sex, but why would they when they've got pie, I mean wire-heading?

Comment by smk on [SEQ RERUN] Building Weirdtopia · 2013-02-01T16:45:19.772Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

My sexual weirdtopia is that the majority of people self-modify (using some sort of technology) to eliminate their sexual attractions and romantic attractions. They still feel other kinds of love and affection, and they still desire closeness with others. They might choose to enjoy pleasures* as intense as sex together with someone they love, but it's more like people eating delicious pie together; it's not driven by attraction. Sexual and romantic love only remain to a minority of people who chose not to follow the trend.

(*Intense pleasures delivered via a little light wire-heading, perhaps, but not to the level that would cause you to ignore the rest of life.)

Comment by smk on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 18, chapter 87 · 2013-01-03T03:05:12.348Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It seems to me that you need to do more than just prefer immortality for all. Harry's happy thought is not just that he wants people to stop dying, but that he has a great deal of hope--confidence, even--that it will happen, one day.

Comment by smk on LW Women- Minimizing the Inferential Distance · 2012-12-01T07:36:16.461Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Sometimes players like to feel they've stymied the DM, for instance by using a loophole to bypass a whole series of obstacles and jump straight to the win. As DM I would sometimes set up situations like that, hoping that they would think of the loophole, and then acting all chagrined when they did. :) But of course the win came with complications of its own, which led to the main plot I was actually trying to get to. (Or if they don't win, I'd have another way to get them there.) Anyway, the point is that it can be fun for the players to feel like they have a big impact on the plot. And hey, sometimes they actually do--players going off on tangents has led to some really cool plots that I had not planned for. Like when my plan was for them to defeat some druglords, but the swordmage decided to get addicted to the drug instead.

Comment by smk on Bayes for Schizophrenics: Reasoning in Delusional Disorders · 2012-08-20T14:39:50.387Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Some strangely common childhood beliefs:
Everyone except you is a robot
Your life is like the Truman Show

Comment by smk on An Intuitive Explanation of Solomonoff Induction · 2012-08-09T09:14:33.385Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

In the "Probability" section, you say:

Suppose you start out 85% confident that the one remaining enemy soldier is not a sniper. That leaves only 15% credence to the hypothesis that he is a sniper.

But in the next section, "The Problem of Priors", you say:

In the example above where you're a soldier in combat, I gave you your starting probabilities: 85% confidence that the enemy soldier was a sniper, and 15% confidence he was not.

Seems like you swapped the numbers.

Comment by smk on In Defense of Tone Arguments · 2012-07-20T01:48:45.816Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Potential scenarios:

1: Alfred and Bob really do support the same agenda, but Alfred thinks Bob's tone makes him unpersuasive.

  1. Alfred pretends to support Bob's agenda, but is just a concern troll.

  2. Alfred is open about disagreeing with Bob's agenda, and directs his criticisms at Bob's tone rather than engaging with Bob's actual argument.

I interpret the opening sentence of that page as referring to scenarios 2 and 3, in that order:

sometimes by Concern trolls and sometimes as a Derailment

Here's some more stuff from that page which seems to describe scenario 3:

If you tread on someone's toes, and they tell you to get off, then get off their toes. Don't tell them to "ask nicely".


some men label any feminist thought or speech as hostile or impolite

On that page I don't see much reference to scenario 1, which is what you seem to be talking about.

In my experience scenarios 2 and 3 are where tone arguments most often come up and are objected to.

Comment by smk on In Defense of Tone Arguments · 2012-07-20T00:15:40.341Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

HonoreDB created a way to embed polls here instead of using karma.

Comment by smk on In Defense of Tone Arguments · 2012-07-20T00:03:20.875Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The scenario being imagined supposes that you and I both support the same agenda

That's not the scenario in which I have most often seen people objecting to tone arguments.

Comment by smk on A Protocol for Optimizing Affection · 2012-07-06T14:52:22.467Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I would guess so, yes. Not wildly unusual, but kinda, yeah. My perception might be skewed because I'm unusual in the other direction. You seem like one of those extra un-picky people, while I am extra picky.

Comment by smk on A Protocol for Optimizing Affection · 2012-06-14T07:50:11.520Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

It's pretty cool that you are a friendship slut platonically promiscuous less likely than average to reject someone approaching you for affection. Advertising this might reduce your status, but you'll probably get more hugs overall. I say, go ahead and publicly spell out your unusual openness (by telling people your rules, etc).

Comment by smk on In Praise of Boredom · 2012-06-13T13:04:04.744Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Maybe they meant that it doesn't continue getting less and less good. I dunno.

Comment by smk on Atkins Diet - How Should I Update? · 2012-06-13T09:42:17.475Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I was going to reply to you about the feasibility of weight loss in general (you haven't said you're interested in weight loss, but that's what people usually do Atkins for), but my comment really wasn't answering your question, so I posted in the open thread instead. Here it is if you're interested.

Comment by smk on Schelling fences on slippery slopes · 2012-06-12T18:05:31.507Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I tried to tell my husband about murder-Gandhi but I was laughing too hard.

Comment by smk on Open Thread, June 1-15, 2012 · 2012-06-12T16:38:42.282Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Liron's post about the Atkins Diet got me thinking. I'd often heard that the vast majority of people who try to lose weight end up regaining most of it after 5 years, making permanent weight loss an extremely unlikely thing to succeed at. I checked out a few papers on the subject, but I'm not good at reading studies, so it would be great to get some help if any of you are interested. Here are the links (to pdfs) with a few notes. Anyone want to tell me if these papers really show what they say they do? Or at any rate, what do you think about the feasibility of permanent weight loss?

Medicare's search for effective obesity treatments: Diets are not the answer.
Mann, Traci; Tomiyama, A Janet; Westling, Erika; Lew, Ann-Marie; Samuels, Barbra; Chatman, Jason
American Psychologist, Vol 62(3), Apr 2007, 220-233.
"In sum, the potential benefits of dieting on long-term weight outcomes are minimal, the potential benefits of dieting on long-term health outcomes are not clearly or consistently demonstrated, and the potential harms of weight cycling, although not definitively demonstrated, are a clear source of concern."

Meta-analysis: the effect of dietary counseling for weight loss.
Dansinger, ML; Tatsioni, A; Wong, JB; Chung, M; Balk, EM
Annals of Internal Medicine, 2007;147:41-50.
"All methods indicated that weight loss continued for approximately 6 to 12 months during the active phase of counseling and that participants steadily regained weight during the maintenance phase."
This meta-analysis did not include any low-carb diets, though it did mention a different analysis which did.

Dietary Therapy for Obesity: An Emperor With No Clothes.
Mark, Allyn L
Hypertension, 2008; 51: 1426-1434.
"Over 5 decades, it has been demonstrated repeatedly that dietary therapy fails to achieve weight loss maintenance."
This paper talks a lot about leptin.

Long-term weight-loss maintenance: a meta-analysis of US studies
Anderson, James W; Konz, Elizabeth C; Frederich, Robert C; Wood, Constance L
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, November 2001; vol. 74 no. 5:579-584.
"Five years after completing structured weight-loss programs, the average individual maintained a weight loss of >3 kg and a reduced weight of > 3% of initial body weight."
This is the most optimistic one. It compares VLEDs (very low energy diets) to HBDs (hypoenergetic balanced diets) and concludes that VLEDS are significantly better. After an average of 4.5 years, those who used VLEDs were still an average of 15.5 lbs lighter than their initial weight, while those who used HBDs were an average of 4.4 lbs lighter than initially.

Comment by smk on Polyhacking · 2012-06-11T13:47:08.978Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think the OP said they wanted to be top priority for all their partners.

Comment by smk on Polyhacking · 2012-06-11T13:27:14.759Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I suppose that's why pnrjulius put "utility function" in quotes.

Comment by smk on Low Hanging Fruit- Basic bedroom decorating · 2012-06-06T09:43:49.473Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

do you think anyone would complain about actual people smelling gender-inappropriately?

I've never heard anyone complain about someone else's scent being gender-nonconforming, but I have noticed a few men being careful that their own scented products conform. Not that often, though. Actually it's more common in my experience for people to worry that someone else (like, someone they're buying a gift for) won't want to wear other-gender-associated scents. For example, my mother-in-law gave us some floral-scented fabric softener while implying that my husband might not like it used on his clothes (in fact he likes it).

Comment by smk on Low Hanging Fruit- Basic bedroom decorating · 2012-06-06T09:21:43.194Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

My guess is it means that the room looks like the white wall color is an intentional and well-chosen part of a cohesive design.

Comment by smk on A Protocol for Optimizing Affection · 2012-05-30T04:56:19.715Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Nope, just heard of them.

Comment by smk on A Protocol for Optimizing Affection · 2012-05-30T02:25:02.355Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Reminds me of cuddle parties, and also #7 and #8 here.

Comment by smk on Over-applying rationality: Indefinite lifespans · 2012-05-26T07:30:30.734Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I guess your post isn't really suited for this context because it's basically just telling us what your preferences are. Oh, well, I find it interesting to see what people's preferences are. And it gives me an excuse to tell you mine. I would prefer a world in which existing people did not die and new people were not created. If for some strange reason new people simply had to be created, they definitely would not be created as utterly dependent creatures who gradually develop personhood. Imagining a world with few children gives you a feeling of wrongness? Well, thinking about childhood gives me a feeling of wrongness. I really hope we get rid of childhood someday.

Comment by smk on Fake Morality · 2012-05-24T00:22:42.779Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

What Omega is.

Comment by smk on Open Thread, April 16 - 30, 2012 · 2012-04-19T02:41:47.546Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Are most people here transhumanists? If you are, do you have some specific transhumanist wishes? What about transhumanist possibilities that you want to avoid?

Comment by smk on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 14, chapter 82 · 2012-04-04T21:08:45.999Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW · GW

So Draco will have to build political power without the benefit of growing up in Slytherin. I wonder if Lucius will try to influence other families to pull their kids out of Hogwarts too?

Comment by smk on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 14, chapter 82 · 2012-04-04T20:57:52.343Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

It's posted in the author's note due to FFN being unresponsive:

Comment by smk on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 14, chapter 82 · 2012-04-04T13:33:19.264Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Seems kind of like rehashing old ground covered by Spider Robinson, to me.

Comment by smk on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 13, chapter 81 · 2012-03-30T05:24:41.782Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

In Ch 45, Harry thinks:

I comprehend your nature, you symbolize Death, through some law of magic you are a shadow that Death casts into the world.

If this is true, it's possible that as long as death exists (for wizards, anyway), it will continue to cast its shadows, and so the dementors can never be all destroyed. Maybe they'll just respawn or something. In fact, maybe when Harry destroyed that one in Ch 45, a dementor respawned back at Azkaban without anyone noticing. Do the guards keep a count of dementors?