Posts

Brief thoughts on inefficient writing systems 2021-07-29T20:20:33.594Z
Unrefined thoughts on some things rationalism is missing vs religions 2021-06-06T17:04:51.358Z
Strength, not courage, is the second component of goodness 2021-06-01T03:32:07.488Z
Exploiting Crypto Prediction Markets for Fun and Profit 2021-03-13T02:31:30.493Z
How my school gamed the stats 2021-02-20T19:23:25.202Z
Large Gains from Small Choices 2020-12-28T19:34:51.748Z

Comments

Comment by Srdjan Miletic (srdjan-miletic) on Why did Europe conquer the world? · 2021-12-28T13:00:00.728Z · LW · GW

I think this post presents a plausible explanation for why Europe colonised the world. I think my problem is that there are numerous other explanations with a great deal of supporting literature and argumentation and I don't see much if any engagement with the alternative explanations in this post. In other words, I feel this post is trying to convince me of a certain answer without acknowledging the existence of other answers.

A few more specific thoughts:

Your model of why Europe wins:

  • Europe could choose when to fight by virtue of having long range ships = fights China.India at the most opportune times
  • Industrialisation => geographically separated empire => more industrialisation due to labour shortages and cheap raw resources
  • Christopher columbus = discovery of the new world = colonisation begins

I think there are a few problems with this model. First, long range ships and being able to devote enough resources to fight and win wars half way around the world are stupendous technological feats other civilizations were not capable of. I think you need an explanation for why Europe was first able to do these things while China/Arab states were not.

Secondly, the idea that a colonial empire speeds up industrialisation may or may not be true but a few things don't line up:

  • European states without empires also industrialised rapidly
  • Britain started industrialising well before it had a substantial empire. in 1740, the "empire" was basically some parts of the US and Canada with negligible economic output compared to the mainland.

Finally, the idea that Columbus was necessary for colonisation to happen is something I'm skeptical of. Yes no discovery of America = no colonization of America but I don't quite see why European colonization of other parts of the world was contingent on columbus.

Also, a few other popular explanations of why Europe pulled ahead:

  • Many competing states with a natural geography full of barriers stopping any single empire from forming and dominating = more competition/experimentation = more progress
  • Property rights and a strong trader/merchant class with a large degree of influence on government vs religious+millitary rule in the arab world. (Note this doesn't apply to all of europe, more to the UK and netherlands. Doesn't explain the success of other European nations)
  • Unique geographic features such as minimal natural disasters, large amounts of arable land, good climate, lots of large animals and good crops => higher pop density => more innovation and growth
  • European christianity being in a better state, somewhat de to the reformation, and that having ripple effects throughout society in terms of norms etc...
Comment by Srdjan Miletic (srdjan-miletic) on On Stateless Societies · 2021-12-28T12:20:03.785Z · LW · GW

I don't think the conclusion "stateless societies are not in a Hobbesian state of constant war" is warranted here. With stateless societies or those in a weak state, the war isn't between members of the group/family/clan/tribe. It's between different groups. Within a group people are still subject to rules, sanctions for bad behaviour etc...

Comment by Srdjan Miletic (srdjan-miletic) on Parenting: "Try harder next time" is bad advice for kids too · 2021-12-22T10:26:39.857Z · LW · GW

I'm not sure I agree.

Some class of errors/problems are due to taking the wrong approach. Trying harder here is indeed not effective and is bad advice.

Another class of errors are due to giving up too early, not putting in enough effort or not really caring about doing something well/properly. For this class of errors, "try harder" is legitimate feedback because the problem is indeed the amount of effort being put in.

An example from my time at secondary school. Some people would try to study but take the wrong approach and as a consequence not do that well. Telling them to study harder or longer would not have been good advice. Other people didn't really care, didn't study or pay attention in class and when they did it was only the bare minimum to avoid punishment. For the second group, telling them to try harder is good advice.

There's another question here over whether telling someone to try harder is often effective. The implicit assumption of the post is that no, its not. My experience in the real world is that in many situations you can motivate people to exert substantially more effort in an activity with "try harder" advice framed in the right way and with the right relationship with the person you're talking to.

Comment by Srdjan Miletic (srdjan-miletic) on Should I delay having children to take advantage of polygenic screening? · 2021-12-22T02:42:03.886Z · LW · GW

Are you already committed to a specific person to have children with?

The reason I ask is that who you have children with will have a drastically larger impact on the quality of children you get vs even 100% accurate polygenic screening. If waiting 10 years gets you better polygenic screening but makes finding a good partner (genetics + character/culture etc...) somewhat less likely, then the tradeoff may not be worth it.

(It's still smart to freeze eggs/sperm anyway)

Comment by Srdjan Miletic (srdjan-miletic) on Frame Control · 2021-11-29T01:01:32.213Z · LW · GW

Agreed but it seems to me that agreeableness/conflict-avoidance makes you far more susceptible to frame-control. Not that it's the only factor which matters or that a disagreeable person is immune.

Comment by Srdjan Miletic (srdjan-miletic) on Frame Control · 2021-11-29T00:52:56.863Z · LW · GW

This article gives me a strange feeling of looking through a mirror into a very different kind of world. I'm highly disagreeable. Vulnerability to frame control seems to stem from being agreeable/conflict-avoidant/unassertive. I personally find many of the situations where person A tries to frame control person person B and person B just silently takes it and doesn't say anything (at least in the initial stages) really weird and hard to imagine myself doing. Further, while rationally I know people behave like this, I really can't put myself in their shoes and see why. The reactions to situations just seem so different from what mine would be.

E.g:

  • The burning man example. If I made a point and another person suggested people just listen to me because I'm tall/eloquent/have other trait X, I'd immediately confront them. I can't imagine letting a shitty argumentative tactic like that slide, much less the insult it implies.
  • The student who asks the master a question, the master then responds by asking the student what motivates them to seek problems. Again, my response would be to pointedly confront the master and point out that they haven't answered my question.
Comment by Srdjan Miletic (srdjan-miletic) on Start with a Title · 2021-10-31T15:23:09.497Z · LW · GW

Counterpoint: Sometimes you don't have a clear title because you don't have a clear understanding of what you want to say. Starting by writing and iterating can help you clarify your thoughts and eventually lead to a clear title & article once you're clearer on what you're thinking/want to say.

Comment by Srdjan Miletic (srdjan-miletic) on How can one train philosophical skill? · 2021-10-20T20:22:32.367Z · LW · GW

Hard agree with the potential negative effects. Debating is essentially learning to be good at motivated reasoning. That can be very good if you choose to apply said motivated reasoning skill to deeply understand all positions on a topic, even those you disagree with. It's usually bad because most people just use their superior motivated reasoning skills to engage in confirmation bias more effectivley.

Comment by Srdjan Miletic (srdjan-miletic) on How can one train philosophical skill? · 2021-10-01T00:48:20.592Z · LW · GW

I think there are two parts to being good at philosophy: argumentative skill and cached knowldge.

Cached knowledge is knowing a given topic, the arguments around it and so on. Without cached knowledge you can't engage in a real discussion because you have to reinvent the wheel while other people are discussion the best design for a car. Getting cached knowledge is largely a matter of reading existing work and discussion with people who know the field

Argumentation is being able to argue well. This means spotting flaws in arguments, being able to distinguish between an argument being true and being important, finding the cruxe(s) of a discussion and so on. This is hard to learn and is more a skill. The best way to learn it in my experience is lots and lots of practice with short feedback cycles and direct, clear feedback. Competitive debating can help. So can the standard route of writing lots of papers and having someone who is good mark them and rip them apart when/where they're unpersuasive/unclear/imprecise.

Comment by Srdjan Miletic (srdjan-miletic) on Insights from Modern Principles of Economics · 2021-09-23T04:46:50.495Z · LW · GW

It's not necessarily clear that disaster relief is better handled by the government. A few things to keep in mind:

  • It's not a choice between markets or government. You can have both. (e.g: The army and rescue services organizing huge logistics efforts to resupply effected regions/clear roads. At the same time supermarkets are allowed to sell goods at inflated prices, incentivizing them to store a surplus in future cases where disasters may happen as they can make a profit large enough to offset the cost of keeping excess stock in inventory.)
  • The same incentive problems that apply to gov's generally also apply here. A shop owner, assuming price gouging is allowed, is incentivized to keep a small surplus of disaster items in stock even though they won't sell in normal times because of the small chance of an extraordinary profit if a disaster strikes. The government, even thought it should ideally keep track of and prepare for disasters, often won't due to it being in no individual's interests to do so. e.g: Lack of food stockpiling in New Orleans prior to Katrina.
Comment by Srdjan Miletic (srdjan-miletic) on Insights from Modern Principles of Economics · 2021-09-23T04:41:29.347Z · LW · GW

I recently finished reading the book with a small group of friends. One thing we all thought was that the micro half of the book was far better written then the macro half. We all came away from the micro half with a clear, intuitive understanding of most of most of the concepts explained. On the other hand the macro explanations seemed to be both more complex and also less persuasive. There were a number of times we thought up obvious objections to a macro explanation, expected the book to cover it only to find that it moved on.

Comment by Srdjan Miletic (srdjan-miletic) on Thoughts on Moral Philosophy · 2021-08-19T09:42:48.239Z · LW · GW

I think you may be confusing utilitarianism and consequentialism a bit. Your arguments for accepting utilitarianism past a certain scale (e.g: would you kill one person to save the world, no logical basis for act/omission distinction) are more arguments for consequentialism generally than they are for utilitarianism specifically. Your objections on the other hand are specific to utilitarianism.

Have you considered that you may be a consequentialist (you think the best principled course of action/universe is one where we maximise goodness) but not a utilitarian (consequentialism + the only thing we should care about it utility. No weighting for desert, justice, knowledge, etc...)

Comment by Srdjan Miletic (srdjan-miletic) on Brief thoughts on inefficient writing systems · 2021-07-31T18:20:42.967Z · LW · GW

I think these are all good examples of language reforms. I guess my issue is that I was over-fixating on english.

Comment by Srdjan Miletic (srdjan-miletic) on Brief thoughts on inefficient writing systems · 2021-07-29T22:36:26.174Z · LW · GW

I agree that there are many metrics on which you can judge a language. My post above was meant to be more about writing systems specifically than languages generally. (Sorry for the lack of clarity). Given a set language with a certain vocabulary, grammar etc.. I don't why a phonemic system of writing would lead to less communication bandwidth, expressiveness, ambiguity etc... than a non phonemic one. Ditto for logogramatic writing systems.

In essence my mental model is that you can say certain things in certain ways with a given language. Which writing system you use effects how hard or easy it is to change from verbal language to written language, but the writing system itself doesn't change the expressiveness, signalling, capacity fo intentional ambiguity etc...

Also, even if you think that ease of learning is not the only/most important metric, I still think it's worth taking into account and giving at least a fair amount of weight to. After all a language which is far harder to learn (e.g: chinese) will result in a far smaller pool of literate people and even the people who are literate will be comparatively less so than in an alternate world where their language use a easier to learn writing system.

Comment by Srdjan Miletic (srdjan-miletic) on Brief thoughts on inefficient writing systems · 2021-07-29T22:30:29.854Z · LW · GW

Two questions:

  1. Do you think there are significant things other than how phonetic/whether it's logogramatic that make a writing system significantly easier or harder to learn/use?
  2. In terms of language difficulty more generally, what do you think are the most important factors which determine difficulty?
Comment by Srdjan Miletic (srdjan-miletic) on Punishing the good · 2021-07-25T19:40:51.992Z · LW · GW

I think a fair bit of the confusion here arises from the difference between judging an act or package of acts as good/bad vs judging a person as a whole as good or bad.

Judging acts is simple. Are those actions or that combination of actions permissible and or desirable under your moral system.

Judging people is harder. Do we judge a person by their actions? Do we judge them by the actions they would have taken in a variety of hypotheticals? (Almost no one will steal/kill/rape when doing so is socially prescribed and likely to be harshly punished. The fact that a given individual doesn't do these things in an environment where doing so would be against their self interest says nothing about them). How do we account for moral ignorance? If a concentration camp guard honestly believes what they're doing is right because of indoctrination from birth, are they still morally culpable for their actions/beliefs?

Basically there are a large number of difficult questions you need to answer if you want to make the jump from judging acts to judging people.

Comment by Srdjan Miletic (srdjan-miletic) on Essentialness of Data · 2021-07-15T13:19:42.917Z · LW · GW

Thanks for this. This is the kind of post which seems obvious in retrospect but I didn't think/know beforehand.

Comment by Srdjan Miletic (srdjan-miletic) on How do you keep track of your own learning? · 2021-06-11T09:58:28.362Z · LW · GW

It's worth noting that assessing your own learning is far easier in domains where there are practical tasks gated by knowledge. E.g: When learning.a programming language, I can measure the learning by my ability to do tasks of increasing complexity with it.

I imagine that for textbook learning you could try exams. That certainly works for maths although it has a failure mode in that it only verifies that you've memorized passwords whereas what you want to do is to develop a deep and intuitive understanding.

Comment by Srdjan Miletic (srdjan-miletic) on Strength, not courage, is the second component of goodness · 2021-06-10T22:56:53.819Z · LW · GW
  • Wholeheartedly agree that having the capacity to cause good outcomes is important. I'm not sure it's part of being a good person. Let's say you have two people. Both have the same personal amount of Wisdom and Courage. Both choose to do good. One person is born poor and the other is born with 100 billion dollars in inheritance. The richer person is undoubtedly more powerful and can do more good but does that mean they're a better person?

  • Maybe "ability" or some other word is better here than power. For me power implies being able to force other agents to do/not do things. Ability suggests being able to do something, even when that something doesn't involve other agents.

Comment by Srdjan Miletic (srdjan-miletic) on Unrefined thoughts on some things rationalism is missing vs religions · 2021-06-08T01:50:25.126Z · LW · GW

Putting it forward as a religion-substitute would probably turn people off

I agree this is a risk. Both due to culty vibes and people not wanting a religion. I'm not sure in practice whether growing rationalism as a core identity would lead to less or more rationalists. I'm also not sure how far non-core and core identity rationalism are mutually exclusive. (Just like a lot of people are vaguely christian without belonging to a church, so maybe a lot of people would be vaguely interested in rationalism without wanting to join their local temple)

Third, we should ask ourselves (and I'd be curious to hear your answer) what kind of future we're planning for in which the religion-ification of rationalism becomes relevant

I don't think there needs to be a specific, world-altering plan in order for a rationalist religion to be something worth pursuing. If you believe as I do that rationalism makes people better human beings, is morally right and leads to more open, free, just and advanced societies, then creating and spreading it is good pretty much irrespective of social circumstances.

At some point (perhaps already past), all of those people who can be persuaded will be. This will only comprise a small fraction of the population, but they will cling to the "rationalist community" with a near-religious zeal

So I think I depart quite strongly from the lesswrong consensus here. Lesswrong has about, what, 200 active members? The broader group of people who would consider themselves rationalists or rationalist adjacent is probably less than 10'000. The world has a population of 600 Billion people. Even assuming only a tiny proportion of people are naturally inclined towards rationalism, I really don't think we're anywhere close to addressing the full market. A few things to bear in mind:

  • Rationalist content is mostly in english. Most people don't speak/read english. Even those that do as a second language don't consumer primarily english sources
  • Rationalism is niche and hard to stumble upon. It's not like christianity or left/right ideology in the west. Whereas those ideologies are broadcasted at you constantly and you will know about them and roughly what they represent, rationalism is something you only find if you happen to just luck out and stumble on this weird internet trail of breadcrumbs.
Comment by Srdjan Miletic (srdjan-miletic) on Unrefined thoughts on some things rationalism is missing vs religions · 2021-06-06T23:58:08.299Z · LW · GW

I feel a similar way to you in that rationalism is part of my core identity. Why do you think talking about rationality/rationalism will make you loose social status? I've often broached the topic with people in work, my friendship groupm, debating etc and have never had any problems.

Comment by Srdjan Miletic (srdjan-miletic) on Curated conversations with brilliant rationalists · 2021-06-01T03:28:16.453Z · LW · GW

Wonderful. Thanks for creating this. One small tip: when doing remote interviews consider sending your guests a cheap mic or headset. Even a $30 mic/headset can drastically improve sound quality and would really improve listening experience for some of your episodes.

Comment by Srdjan Miletic (srdjan-miletic) on Networks of Trust vs Markets · 2021-06-01T03:07:54.444Z · LW · GW

So I think it's interesting that the market seem so expensive for these tasks. It makes sense for the carpenter case due to the information asymmetry but I don't see what there aren't more affordable moving companies in your nation.

As for markets vs trust a few thoughts:

  • You seem to be of the view that most consumers (irrationally) go to markets for most of their transactions when they could be relying on trust instead. Is that really true? Many of the goods I get, relationships, conversations, essay feedback, sex, childrearing, etc... I get through non-market trust based mechanisms. Isn't it the case that we just don't think of non-traded things as goods?
  • You seem to be of the opinion that trust is massively more cost effective than markets in many cases? Again I'm somewhat sceptical. I think your selection procedure is to take things you do on the market and find the few of them that are far more effective when done outside of the market. This leads to a biased sample because you're selecting specifically for things the market does badly.
  • Another thing to consider is the cost of trust based networks vs markets. Specifically, you're limited to in-network people and hence to only a very small subset of goods/services.

(By the way, still think the "trust can really help with transactions" gist is super interesting and useful. Even outside of laws and just in terms of cultural norms, living/working in a low-trust culture can be a shocking experience to anyone accustomed to a western european country)

Comment by Srdjan Miletic (srdjan-miletic) on The Fall of Rome, III: Progress Did Not Exist · 2021-04-27T23:16:52.616Z · LW · GW

So I think that the explanations for the gradual spread of ever more intense agriculture are:

  • The population growth explanation: people gradually adopted more intense agriculture because population density rose, meaning they had to or they would starve.
  • The technological diffusion model: intensive agriculture was highly complex and non-obvious. The tech for it was developed in a few places and then gradually diffused. The causal link between pop and intensive agriculture is that intensive agriculture caused higher, more concentrated populations rather than being caused by it.

Why do I tend towards the latter hypothesis? A few reasons:

  • In pre-modern civilizations, population growth is exponential or at least very rapid. This means that if it indeed was pop density growth driving agriculture, we would expect to see far rapider adoption of it in, say, non costal europe where it took close to a thousand years after the greeks had it.
  • Related to the above, most pre modern societies were at the malthusian limit due to unrestrained population growth. Famines were common and starvation was a real risk most people would face multiple times in their lives. Hence I don't think people in these societies lacked an incentive to grow more food more efficiently, even if doing so was hard. I think they just couldn't.
Comment by Srdjan Miletic (srdjan-miletic) on The Fall of Rome, III: Progress Did Not Exist · 2021-04-25T21:47:59.712Z · LW · GW

This sequence was incredibly interesting while also being very short and to the point. Thanks a great deal for writing it.

Generally speaking i think your hypothesis is interesting and plausible.

A few questions

  • For the narrow vs wide glass metaphor for population, does it really line up with the multi-century timelines involved? If populations can grow 2x every 20 years in these societies, wouldn't europe have filled up with people much faster? Isn't the fact that it didn't down to a lack of technology (complex agriculture and settled states able to defend agriculture)?
  • How much evidence is there that concrete production fell due to lack of fuel as opposed to, say, economic collapse and constant civil wars drastically reducing demand for very expensive high-grade building materials?
  • Your model of intensive agriculture seems to be "everyone knows what it is but people won't do it until it's necessary". Is this true? Isn't intensive agri a super advanced tech which took centuries to develop and diffuse? Isn't every pre-industrial society pretty much permanently at the malthusian limit, meaning everyone would already have an incentive to do intensive agriculture if possible.
  • Do you think the greeks developed so quickly because they were land bound and hence had to resort to intensive agriculture? Why not other hypothesis like them being next to the sea = hugely more mobility + trade = hugely more wealth = higher pop densities and more specialization in complex good creation.
Comment by Srdjan Miletic (srdjan-miletic) on The EMH is False - Specific Strong Evidence · 2021-04-25T21:22:26.293Z · LW · GW

Out of curiosity, why a US tracker fund instead of a global one like FTSE all-world?

Comment by Srdjan Miletic (srdjan-miletic) on The EMH is False - Specific Strong Evidence · 2021-04-25T21:21:08.064Z · LW · GW

Hmmm. So I don't think more global exposure = more diversified. What you should be aiming for is investing in each country/region in proportion to it's share of the market.

Consider the following situation

  • The USA is 30% of global markets
  • A global index fund invests in world equities, putting 30% of it's money in the US market
  • The US market is actually also 50% invested abroad
  • Hence the index fund is really only putting 15% (30/2) in the US and is underweighted towards the US
Comment by Srdjan Miletic (srdjan-miletic) on Anger · 2021-04-25T21:17:18.636Z · LW · GW

I'm not sure I've ever felt anger in the way it seems to be described here. As in, anger as an uncontrolled emotional response to disliking something/someone. I have felt something close to violence-instinct where I thought that a person was a danger/bad and it was time to hurt them but that seems different.

While I tend to agree with you that anger is bad an should be avoided that seems like an extension of the general rule of "You should decide what you feel' rather than letting feelings just randomly happen to you as if they're something external to you like the weather over which you have no control.

One point of disagreement, "If you cannot diffuse the situation then fight as a last resort". I'm not sure this is the correct approach. Let's say a bad person walks up to you and demands you apologize for a perceived slight. Should you do so if the alternative is violence? I realize many people here would say yes but to me giving in to evil/injustice in that way seems intuitively deeply wrong and I would rather choose to fight.

Comment by Srdjan Miletic (srdjan-miletic) on The Inefficient Market Hypothesis · 2021-04-25T21:10:53.008Z · LW · GW

I think there are two ways to read this article. "Markets are inefficient and you can often beat them" or "most systems are fairly broken and you can usually outperform the average person a lot by just using your brain".

I think the second hypothesis is true. I think the first hypothesis is probably not. Most people can't generate market beating returns and are better off investing in index funds.

Comment by Srdjan Miletic (srdjan-miletic) on Preventing overcharging by prosecutors · 2021-04-07T14:03:14.703Z · LW · GW

While I think there are some flaws with this proposal, my biggest question is "Why not do other things that are done abroad and we know work?"

The US system for deals is really strange. In the UK and many european countries there's no such thing as a deal. The police can charge you with a crime. The earlier in the process you admit guilt, the bigger % a sentence reduction you get. This seems to solve the overcharging problem, a prosecutor can't charge you with crime X and then give you a deal for crime Y, and aligns incentives better as prosecutors can't fear people into taking plea deals as easily. It also preserves much of the benefit of plea bargaining by still allowing suspects to confess when the evidence is overwhelming and hence save lot's of time and money.

Comment by Srdjan Miletic (srdjan-miletic) on The EMH is False - Specific Strong Evidence · 2021-03-21T06:46:32.960Z · LW · GW

It doesn't cost that much. i put some funds in polymarket and my total costs were around 18$, Use metamask and wait for a low=price time of day to send money. Alternately, use matic or something similar to get fees which are less than a dollar

Comment by Srdjan Miletic (srdjan-miletic) on The EMH is False - Specific Strong Evidence · 2021-03-21T06:41:16.574Z · LW · GW

I think it's worth noting that there are often both fixed and percentage fees associated with crypto which it's important to be aware of/minimize in order for the trades you mentioned to be profitable. Specifically:

  • Most exchanges charge a hefty %fee on trades. To get around this you want to buy on the pro exchanges (coinbase pro, kraken etc...)
  • Polymarket charges a 2% fee
Comment by Srdjan Miletic (srdjan-miletic) on The EMH is False - Specific Strong Evidence · 2021-03-21T06:39:33.910Z · LW · GW

One argument is that the US stock market already contains a lot of global exposure as many/most large US firms are internationally diversified themselves. Buying global funds means you're actually under-investing in the USA relative to the world as 40% of your "US companies" are actually global companies.

I don't vouch for this argument, it's just something I've heard which sounds somewhat plausible.

Comment by Srdjan Miletic (srdjan-miletic) on AI x-risk reduction: why I chose academia over industry · 2021-03-14T18:52:09.811Z · LW · GW

I think one thing to consider is that the two paths don't have an equal % chance to succeed. Getting a tenure track position at a top 20 university is hard. Really hard. Getting a research scientist position is, based on my very uncertain and informal understanding, less hard.

Comment by Srdjan Miletic (srdjan-miletic) on Exploiting Crypto Prediction Markets for Fun and Profit · 2021-03-14T16:44:40.055Z · LW · GW

That's a good point. I'lll update the post to mention it. There is another trump market offering 5% (so 3% after the fees) but it's far smaller. https://polymarket.com/market/will-donald-trump-be-president-of-the-usa-on-may-31-2021

Comment by Srdjan Miletic (srdjan-miletic) on What are some real life Inadequate Equilibria? · 2021-03-14T00:55:42.511Z · LW · GW

1: Nuclear Power Currently we (the developed world except France) rely mostly on fossil fuels for energy with some usage of renewables. This has been the case since WW2. This is bad. It's bad because global warming and other kinds of pollution. It's bad because we rely either on coal, which is extra dirty, or oil and natural gas which largely comes from brutal autocracies and causes us to be needlessly involved in wars and influence battles. Renewables are coming but they're too inconsistent to be useful. until we have better energy storage tech.

None of this was necessary. We've had nuclear energy since the 1960's. It's cheap, safe and essentially limitless. France generates 70% of its energy from nuclear power and has done so for decades. As a consequence it has energy independence, low emissions, low energy costs and is generally better off. The only reason it's not mainstream in most nations is due to environmentalist movements campaigning against it and high profile nucler accidents leading to a public misconception of the risks of nuclear as compared to other power sources much the same way as people are more scared of terrorism than car crashes despite the latter being overwhelmingly more dangerous.

2: Immigration Canada and Australia do immigration well. They have points system. High skilled, probably beneficial to society immigrants can easily migrate with minimum paperwork.

In the Uk and USA, immigration is hell. Low skilled illegal migrants number in the millions. High skilled legal migrants have to fight through regulatory hurdle after hurdle to get into the country. This is bad.

It's not clear why immigration is so bad. Massive majorities of the public support points based migration systems. Nevertheless we have terrible systems which tolerate massive illegal migration but make legal migration unnecessarily difficult.

3: Corruption Private individuals and businesses can give money to politicians and parties. They usually do this because it's in their interest. This is colloquially known as corruption. There is massive support for ending this kind of practice. Almost everyone from elites to the public see it as bad. Still year after year it persists. In the US this may be because of the law imposing a barrier to reducing campaign contributions. In the UK or other european countries there's no such problem yet still nothing is done.

4: Education A lot of education is signalling. This is even more true of lower tier education. One memory that sticks with me is on my first day of a graduate schema another person telling my they studied airport management. I asked them why. They said just to get a job and that they'd learn nothing practical over those years.

The problem with education is a collective action/externality one. Education is good for individuals but imposes costs on others by inflating the level of signalling needed. Many people would be better off if they collectively decided to not waste years on useless degrees so they can apply to unrelated graduate schemes. Still, it's not possible to cordinate.

Comment by Srdjan Miletic (srdjan-miletic) on What are some real life Inadequate Equilibria? · 2021-03-13T23:07:50.175Z · LW · GW

Just to point out that there are consequentialist arguments for first past the post, namely that it leads to stable majority governments and a small number of well-defined political parties.

Comment by Srdjan Miletic (srdjan-miletic) on Exploiting Crypto Prediction Markets for Fun and Profit · 2021-03-13T20:05:04.388Z · LW · GW

20% over two months sounds extremely high to be close to risk free. I'd be very curious to hear more.

Comment by Srdjan Miletic (srdjan-miletic) on Exploiting Crypto Prediction Markets for Fun and Profit · 2021-03-13T19:45:12.059Z · LW · GW

Are you sure you can do it with no fees? I know you can do it if you deposit USD but I don't think it's possible with other currencies.

Comment by Srdjan Miletic (srdjan-miletic) on Exploiting Crypto Prediction Markets for Fun and Profit · 2021-03-13T19:44:14.142Z · LW · GW

That's a good point. I'm used to the free withdrawals. Didn't realize the costs until I looked at their blog just now.

Will update the article.

Comment by Srdjan Miletic (srdjan-miletic) on Exploiting Crypto Prediction Markets for Fun and Profit · 2021-03-13T13:45:10.050Z · LW · GW

So I don't really think it's the price of risk. I think it's just the markets being shallow and inefficient and most casual players being uninterested in a 4% return and unable to exploit one even if they were interested as their transaction fees would erase that margin.

Comment by Srdjan Miletic (srdjan-miletic) on A whirlwind tour of Ethereum finance · 2021-03-11T02:01:23.268Z · LW · GW

Why do you believe that proof-of-stake is a mirage? We know it's possible as some existing blockchains already use it. Do you believe that:

  • It's possible but has some serious flaw that most people don't recognize
  • The main crypto's of today (ETH + BTC) won't transition to it
  • Something else
Comment by Srdjan Miletic (srdjan-miletic) on What is the low hanging fruit of things we could be doing to improve society? · 2021-03-11T00:55:47.847Z · LW · GW

Instituting rule of law in foreign policy. In many countries foreign policy is essentially at the discretion of the executive. Insofar as it is controlled by the legislature, it's controlled through committees and reporting requirements rather than actually courts and rules of conduct. Imagine if the prime minister could choose to kill whoever they wanted and was only contrainted by the threat of parliamentary sanction. That's basically the status qou for foreign policy at the moment.

Comment by Srdjan Miletic (srdjan-miletic) on What is the low hanging fruit of things we could be doing to improve society? · 2021-03-11T00:52:56.676Z · LW · GW

Make nuclear our main source of power. It's green, safe, sustainable, cheap and reliable. We could have done this in the 60's/70's as France did but irrational fears of nuclear power and subsequent over-regulation and lack of gov support killed it in the US and UK.

Comment by Srdjan Miletic (srdjan-miletic) on I’m a 19-year-old Terminal Patient. Medical Brain Preservation Should not be Difficult to Discuss or Adopt · 2021-02-27T00:43:51.369Z · LW · GW

I'd heard of cryonics quite a bit but never brain scanning or preservation. The story of the young man is particularly poignant. It's is truly a tragedy that brain preservation is not more widely commercially available.

Comment by Srdjan Miletic (srdjan-miletic) on How my school gamed the stats · 2021-02-21T23:12:15.211Z · LW · GW

Fair enough. It's good to know that inspections are no longer pre-announced..

Comment by Srdjan Miletic (srdjan-miletic) on How my school gamed the stats · 2021-02-21T02:34:37.871Z · LW · GW

I've read that blog too. It's pretty interesting. Do you have any other sources to recommend?

Also, if you're willing to share which country did you teach in?

Comment by Srdjan Miletic (srdjan-miletic) on How my school gamed the stats · 2021-02-21T02:33:37.997Z · LW · GW

My sample size is pretty small, limited to myself and a few people I knew, so I don't have a high degree of confidence that my experiences generalize across the UK. Hearing about experiences like your daughters shifts me somewhat towards thinking that state schools are okayish on average. Still, I find it hard to convert the various good and bad stories I hear into any kind of high confidence conclusion without hard data, which I haven't managed to find much of.

Comment by Srdjan Miletic (srdjan-miletic) on Science in a High-Dimensional World · 2021-01-11T07:19:53.194Z · LW · GW

I don't quite think you've solved the problem of induction.

I think there's a fairly serious issue with your claim that being able to predict something accurately means you necessarily fully understand the variables which causes it because determinism.

The first thing to note is that “perfect predictability implies zero mutual information” plays well with approximation: approximately perfect predictability implies approximately zero mutual information. If we can predict the sled’s speed to within 1% error, then any other variables in the universe can only influence that remaining 1% error. Similarly, if we can predict the sled’s speed 99% of the time, then any other variables can only matter 1% of the time. And we can combine those: if 99% of the time we can predict the sled’s speed to within 1% error, then any other variables can only influence the 1% error except for the 1% of sled-runs when they might have a larger effect.

That's not really the cases. E.g: let's say that ice cream melt twice as fast in galaxies without a supermassive black hole at the center. You do experiments to see how fast ice cream melts. After controlling for type of ice cream, temperature, initial temp of the ice cream, airflow and air humidity, you find that you can predict how ice cream melts. You triumphantly claim that you know which things cause ice cream to melt at different rates, having completely missed the black hole's effects.

Essentially, controlling for A & B but not C won't tell you whether C has a causal influence on the thing you're measuring unless

  • you intentionally change C between experiments (not practical given googleplexes of potential causal factors)
  • C happens to naturally vary quite a bit and so makes your experimental results different, cluing you in to the fact that you're missing something.
Comment by Srdjan Miletic (srdjan-miletic) on Would the Real Economy Please Stand Up · 2020-12-30T00:29:00.510Z · LW · GW

Which is indeed really strange and something I don't really understand. I'd expect that whoever bought the properties after the foreclosure sale would live in it themselves, redevelop the land or put the housing up for rent at a price people would pay. Sure there are edge cases where empty housing makes sense (cities with population collapse = literally more housing stock than needed, super low cost housing which when prices fall the rent doesn't cover the risk of having tenants) but those seem like edge cases which don't explain the widespread phenomenon of empty housing.

My immediate thoughts are that either empty houses aren't really a thing outside of specific cases and the examples we see in media are just a biased sample or that they are and something I don't understand is going on. I'm leaning towards the latter.