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


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.

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.

Comment by Srdjan Miletic (srdjan-miletic) on Would the Real Economy Please Stand Up · 2020-12-28T19:14:15.624Z · LW · GW

A few vague thoughts:

  • Money is not "virtual". It's a good like everything else. It's price is determined by supply and demand. You could say it's "virtual" because people want it for reasons unlinked to the real world, but that requires establishing a rule or metric for what demand is real or not.
  • Economic crashes can indeed be caused by supply shocks (e.g: the disease destroying crops). They can also be caused by other things such as psychology, governments keeping interest rates too low/high etc... I'm not sure you characterization of people being kicked out of subprime mortgage backed homes as a failure is correct. A different perspective is that those people cannot afford those mortgages once they lose their jobs/interest rates rise and it's good they're losing the 1% of their homes they owned (land + house) so it can be used for more productive purposes.
  • National debt actually isn't that strange or special. It's similar to business debt. If the US/UK governments can borrow at close to 0% real interest rates, it's basically free money. If they can borrow at X% but then invest that money in the economy/infrastructure/education which in turn returns Y%, as long as Y >= X borrowing is fine. The problem with having a large debt to GDP ratio is that the cost of servicing said debt could become very high if interest rates rise, either because something bad happens in your country so people lending money think you're less likely to be able/willing to pay back or because there's less demand/more supply of comparable bonds.
Comment by Srdjan Miletic (srdjan-miletic) on The sad state of Rationality Zürich - Effective Altruism Zürich included · 2018-03-01T17:54:56.304Z · LW · GW
  1. I don't know the facts of the matter and have not heard the other side of the story. Hence, I cannot determine whether the group was justified in excluding you or not. I think the same goes for most people here.
  2. If you feel a group associated with EA/LW has acted unfairly towards you, you have a right to air your grievances.
  3. I'd say publicly naming groups and decisions you believe, rightly or wrongly, to be unjust is good. Events like this happen far too often behind closed doors. Transparency is something we should strive for.
  4. Ultimately, the Zurich EA group is not an official organisation representing EA. They are just a bunch of people who decide to meet up once in a while. They can choose who they do and do not allow into their group, regardless of how good/bad their reasons, criteria or disciplinary procedures are.
Comment by Srdjan Miletic (srdjan-miletic) on [Meta] New moderation tools and moderation guidelines · 2018-02-18T19:46:35.771Z · LW · GW

A central log would indeed allow anyone to see who was banned and when. My concern is more that such a solution would be practically ineffective. I think that most people reading an article aren't likely to navigate to the central log and search the ban list to see how many people have been banned by said articles author. I'd like to see a system for flagging up bans which is both transparent and easy to access, ideally so anyone reading the page/discussion will notice if banning is taking place and to what extent. Sadly, I haven't been able to think of a good solution which does that.

Comment by Srdjan Miletic (srdjan-miletic) on [Meta] New moderation tools and moderation guidelines · 2018-02-18T12:47:31.780Z · LW · GW

I agree. There are a few feairly simple ways to implement this kind of transparancy.

  • When a comment is deleted, change it's title to [deleted] and remove any content. This at least shows when censorship is happening and roughly how much.
  • When a comment is deleted, do as above but give users the option to show it by clicking on a "show comment" button or something similar.
  • Have a "show deleted comments" button on users profile pages. Users who want to avoid seeing the kind of content that is typically censored can do so. Those who would prefer to see everything can just enable the option and see all comments.

I think these features would add at least some transparancy to comment moderation. I'm still unsure how to make user bans transparent. I'm worried that without doing so, bad admins can just bad users they dislike and give the impression of a balanced discussion with little censorship.