Comment by stuart-anderson on Are UFOs just drones? · 2021-01-15T16:07:35.749Z · LW · GW

Physics still applies to energy. Light has to come from somewhere.

Footage is optical/IR. Radar is radio waves. If we can observe a thing, then as long as the equipment is functioning properly then something has to be there. What that thing is is a different question.

You'd expect to see light, but radar and other sensors won't work on light (neither will bullets). If you have the gun cam footage from some fighter plane then you also have all the other sensor data pointing the same direction. I don't know enough ufology to know what the deal is there.

Comment by stuart-anderson on What skills or habits have lasting value through time? · 2021-01-15T15:54:09.905Z · LW · GW

Any time I've dictated something it has been far less coherent than if I typed it. That being said, I type a hell of a lot more than a I speak, so it's reasonable to assume that unfamiliarity is a factor.

If you are repeating something on a computer often enough to notice it you need macros.

Comment by stuart-anderson on Will we witness the compassion of a nation? · 2021-01-15T15:48:03.574Z · LW · GW

Because doing so aligns with a principle of avoiding unnecessary harm, for a start.

Words are not magic spells. You don't just say something and magically change a person's psyche. Magic isn't real (but tricks can be).

There is literally nothing I could ever say to you that will cause you tangible harm. Furthermore, I can't cause you offence because that's a voluntary choice (or at least one that can be made so with mindfulness).

Also because it facilitates better communication when you are making an effort to avoid creating more animosity.

Ignoring that animosity is a fundamental aspect of this particular conversation regarding how to deal with negotiation in the presence of that very thing, what makes you think I can deceive you that well?

My mantra on LW seems to be we are not friends, nor will we ever be. I don't think I can successfully lie about that, furthermore I don't think I should have to lie about that, both for my own benefit as a matter of honesty, and for you because I don't think lying to people is a good way to have good faith conversations. 

You and I are very different. Probably neurobiologically, now that I think about it. You seem like you have a fully functioning limbic system, I probably don't (as a result of mental illness and medication for the same). I say I don't care, but an interesting question is whether I even can care in the way you do. 

The fastest way to end animosity is to resolve the causes rather than focus on the animosity itself. I have been in many situations where people want to tell me how they feel and their life story when it is a situation that can be fixed without reference to that and they can be sent on their way. I can appreciate why not everyone would favour that, but it has worked many times for me. That being said, I'm mentally ill and I'm very used to my emotions having nothing to do with reality. As such, I place very little value in them.

Comment by stuart-anderson on What skills or habits have lasting value through time? · 2021-01-13T21:58:01.081Z · LW · GW

Improving typing speed

I berate my GP about this on a regular basis.

The real question of course is whether someone that types already should alter layout or go full stenography? A shitty stenographer can easily type 150 wpm. Good stenographers can do over 200 or more. Live transcribers can hit upwards of 300 wpm.

You can easily boost that to 80 wpm by learning to touch type. That's a 4x productivity boost for life.

  1. Maybe you can get to and stay at 80, but my coordination is way lower than that.
  2. Fast and productive are not synonyms. Being able to type faster means you can type faster, not think faster, compose faster, edit faster, etc. That being said, I cannot see a circumstance where being able to type faster is a detriment.

Learning speed reading may have similar productivity benefits, even if you just double or triple your reading rate, given how much text we read now.

As someone with a high reading speed (the last time I was locked up with a library I read 24 books in about two weeks, including some I read twice) I can tell you that comprehension is often more valuable than raw speed in daily life. Reading some article swiftly certainly has utility, but simply shoving more words into your head hits limits as the complexity of the content increases.

Sometimes going slower is better. When I write comments on the internet then unless it's some one liner I'm easily going to re-read it at least a dozen times during drafting and editing. The bigger the post gets the more re-reading that goes on. Being succinct is not my forte.

"If hear alarm, then get out of bed."

Change your alarm to birdsong so that you don't want to stick a gun in your mouth as your first act of consciousness.

This is similar to my choice.

I'm struggling to come up with many more things though.

Figure out what the rules are, then break them.

Comment by stuart-anderson on Are UFOs just drones? · 2021-01-13T21:07:39.588Z · LW · GW

anomalous relative to aircraft

It's more a case of anomalous compared to matter. 

Forces always have to go somewhere. It doesn't have to be the same kind of force but it has to come out somewhere. So, where?

Un-piloted craft are capable of (relatively) "hard stops, turns, and accelerations" that pilots can't physically withstand.

This isn't about mushing up a body, it's about tearing an airframe to bits. 

Think about meteors and asteroids. You've seen footage of them entering the atmosphere. That's what mass travelling really fast meeting opposing force looks like. When they heat up and explode that's what high speed mass decelerating beyond the stable point of its material composition looks like. 

But I'm not sure how much weight to put on the 'ludcrity' of observations generally.

We've seen footage and data released by military and other official channels, so barring unbelievably coordinated disinfo whatever this phenomena is it appears to vastly exceed what we understand to be possible with solid objects.

There is clearly something there, the problem is that we don't know what that might be.

Comment by stuart-anderson on Will we witness the compassion of a nation? · 2021-01-13T14:34:50.698Z · LW · GW

All political views are biases by definition. 

All I'm saying here is that I can explain my politics clearly if necessary, in and this example how that might broadly relate to Trump supporters as a group.

Don't read any more into it than that.

Comment by stuart-anderson on Will we witness the compassion of a nation? · 2021-01-13T14:25:58.591Z · LW · GW

Well, that's not an ambiguous statement at all. /s

Comment by stuart-anderson on Will we witness the compassion of a nation? · 2021-01-13T13:50:35.940Z · LW · GW

I could make a similar claim, but this is a public forum last I checked.

This is a public forum, but it is also threaded. I don't think it is reasonable to ignore that context simply when convenient. Did I suggest that you regened on the social contract? No I didn't. I said she did. I don't think you have.

If you can tell me why regening on social contract isn't anti-social then I'm listening. If you want to tell me why you disagree with my position on that in regards to Impassionata's writings then I'm listening too. If you want me to clarify anything I've written, I can do that. All of those are entirely valid options here. 

I'll thank you to keep your opinions to yourself regarding my other interlocutors.

I don't know her and I never will. I'm talking about her position, not her. Anti-social isn't an insult in this context. If I wanted to insult her then believe me when I say anti-social isn't what I'd run with.

Do opposing parties have to like each other to reach solutions that avert or reduce violence (which is what happens when people won't talk)? No, they don't. In fact, the most important thing is reaching agreement in spite of animus.

In light of that, explain to me why I should care about anyone's feelings and esteem in preference to having a discussion, let alone a discussion about how to get people that hate each other not to kill each other?

Comment by stuart-anderson on Will we witness the compassion of a nation? · 2021-01-12T02:40:20.969Z · LW · GW

I don't have to worry about bias here when it comes to my own ideological framework. I can tell you what I believe and why, and how that aligns more closely with what Trump captures than with establishment politics. From your perspective I am a Trump supporter, although that is something of a misnomer because I support the ideas rather than the individual. Someone better than Trump comes along with similar politics then I'm happy to get behind them instead.

So, Trump supporters are not scared, they're angry. They're sick of being spat on, transparently lied to, economically hollowed out, and expected to go along quietly with all of that. They are sick of being told their values are garbage, their country is worthless, and that they are deplorable

Why do you think Make America Great Again resonated with so many? There's a vast swath of people that reject the negative messaging of the left. They don't share those values, they think those values are what fucked the country up. 

They still deserve as much dignity and respect as you and I. 

From where I'm sitting there's a steady diet of denigration from politicians and the media that has been going on for four years now, and will not stop. Nazi, white supremacist, racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, a basket of deplorables ... where have I heard that before? 

Actions speak louder than words. So, what has the heir apparent and his court done to bring conciliation? What could he even do if he were so inclined?

If we don't even try to de-escalate, then we've already failed.

It's already happened. It happened at least four years ago, probably more. That was the impact, this is the shockwave.

As for de-escalation, tell me what you're willing to give up and we'll start with that. Otherwise what do you have to offer to bring people to the table?

Furthermore, if you can't tell me what's wrong for these people then good luck trying to offer them anything to remedy that. Assuming I'm correct in my claims about this being about anger, what do you think is the genesis of that anger and how would you go about resolving it? 

Comment by stuart-anderson on Will we witness the compassion of a nation? · 2021-01-11T22:20:45.473Z · LW · GW

I wrote a nice long reply and then I remembered Plato's Cave exists.

If you believe that there's only one way of seeing things, that corresponds to actual reality perfectly, and that you understand that in a way that is infallible then I think you need to be at least twenty years older than you are.

Comment by stuart-anderson on Will we witness the compassion of a nation? · 2021-01-11T21:54:24.998Z · LW · GW

I missed a bit.

They won't if we don't have the will or the courage to do anything about it. Reach across that divide!

Again, fundamental ideological differences will prevent that.

The most fundamental difference of all is the most critical: Do you believe that your principles and views should be voluntary for others, and that they should only apply to the extent to which they consent? 

Clearly some law and custom must be universal, but what should that be? Simply teasing out that question between you and I would likely reveal an ideological gulf that is hard to conceive of bridging. I don't have any problem with that discussion but I'm also not going to have realistic expectations about outcomes.

Neither of us are dumb, and neither of us have ill intent. Both of us likely have far more exposure to the ideological underpinnings of what we'd be talking about. So if we cannot reach a concord then what hope do ordinary people with so much less to work with have?

This is really hard. Quite possibly too hard. Again, it's the word or the sword, but neither of us gets to decide that for everyone (or even ourselves).

Comment by stuart-anderson on Will we witness the compassion of a nation? · 2021-01-11T21:17:39.224Z · LW · GW

I'm not sure what you think I'm getting at here, but I was talking about being friendly and opening a dialogue with the people around us with different political alignments. I'd hardly call being a friendly and compassionate neighbor "reneging on the social contract"!

Firstly, I'm replying to a comment by Impassionata, who I consider antisocial at best. Her position erodes the social fabric necessary to maintain democracy. She either hasn't considered where it leads, or simply doesn't care about the causalities (presumably with a side of it won't happen to me).

My attitude is simple: discourse frequently sucks but it sucks so much less than the alternative. I think you have a moral obligation to pursue it in good faith. Compassion is irrelevant here, what matters is commitment to principle. You must sit down at the table with people you hate and always will, because the alternative is that you both draw your swords.

Secondly, I'm no more immune to a negativity bias than anyone else. Of course I'm going to pay more attention to the people in a tribe that have openly expressed a desire to kill me and mine, remove our ability to speak and work, put us in struggle sessions, send us off to the gulag, etc. The "No, no! It's all good now" people aren't going to counteract that whilst we are still in the middle of members of their tribe baying for blood. I'm not faulting you for your good intentions, I'm just aware that they are going to be drowned out by the ill intentions of your peers.

I've read plenty of history, and I'm not the kind of idiot that does that and thinks "That will never happen again". History is cyclical and human nature is ancient. Perhaps my negativity bias is unwarranted or premature here, but the entire reason we have it has a species is that overreacting is cheap and underreacting gets you killed. If someone tells me that they hate me and want me to suffer and die (and more importantly, want to do that to people I care about) then I will not only take them at their word, I'll be prepping to mitigate the threat first. If an idiot telegraphs their attack plan you take full advantage of that.

You don't get to spend four years calling people traitors and Nazis and then expect that to vanish overnight just because your tribe gets the throne. The inverse is true also. Everyone knows how much the other absolutely hates them. There's no ambiguity in what they've threatened. You tell me what the logical conclusions should be here?

Of course there will be support! We need to urge restraint to reduce the chances of something terrible happening to these human beings!

If you think that politicians do anything but file your concerns in the trash when it comes to what they and their patrons want, let alone when their house has been tossed and they were scared, then I really admire your sunny attitude to the world. 

I am old enough to have seen the pattern repeatedly. There's a good reason you're still being molested twenty years later at the airport despite it being provable that it is nothing more than security theatre. Whatever is implemented here in the name of the greater good will still be around in twenty years from now. Whatever you allow today is a legacy to your children and grandchildren.

I can't fault people for not being old, but I can fault them for not reading and considering history that is freely available to them.

I think what's going to happen here is that the Office, and the Senate and House will be secured (not that they'd need to be given the self serving nature of the members thereof) and then some truly egregious legislation will be pushed through. I don't know what that will be, but I know it will be horrible. I fully expect that there will be impositions on internet communications, including encryption, access to services like banking, the right to employment or to conducting business, the right to freedom of assembly and association, attempts to disarm everyone, etc. Basically a mix of the usual things they want plus measures to stomp on all the freedoms the internet accidently gave people whilst they weren't watching. Remember how pivotal social media was in Trump's campaign? They aren't going to let that happen again, and by giving Silicon Valley and payment processors full rights to cut you off they'll get what they want. It will basically be the Chinese social credit system in all but name.

Agreed. That's why, even in the event that the State outright disappears him off the face of the planet, we still have work to do.

If you want to eliminate the other rapidly then the only way you can do that is via the sword. Otherwise this would be a multi-generational project (much like what Yuri Bezmenov so clearly laid out 40 years ago, and that had been going on for long before that).

It is trivial to raise issues that are opposed and irreconcilable in the factions here. There are multiple issues that people are prepared to die over, so getting from here to a point where even half the population is roughly ideologically aligned is going to be a herculean effort (assuming such a thing is even possible at all).

There is no simple answer here. The point where this was manageable by non-violent means is passed IMO. There's inertia here and the elements were set on their trajectories long ago. Even if all the problems were solved tomorrow there are a bunch of people whose lives have been destroyed by government they hate and who hates them right back. People don't just forgive that, even if it would make sense to.

Comment by stuart-anderson on Will we witness the compassion of a nation? · 2021-01-11T00:49:02.175Z · LW · GW

If you think there won't be bipartisan support for whatever revenge comes after the indignity of the little people showing the politicians they're not invulnerable then you're kidding yourself. 

I am of the understanding that sedition, treason, and terrorism all have the potential to carry the death penalty. Any one of them has the potential to have you carted off to a black site for gruesome torture too.

Trump didn't make this dissent, how did he get elected in the first place if the will wasn't there? 

Half of the voting electorate is utterly disenfranchised right now. We know what that looks like on the left with half the pressure and no covid because we've had four years of non-stop histrionics from them over it. Now we get to see what that looks like on the right, only with ten times the ambient stress levels, and a lot more trigger discipline.

I see no reason to believe anything other than a continuing escalation of the trend of riots and civil discord. Nothing has been altered about the underlying issues so why would their surface presentation get any better?

As for the neighbours, if you renege on the social contract that has logical consequences. If the capital can be breached then so can wherever you live. You'd think that wouldn't need to be spelled out to adults but this is the world we find ourselves in.

Comment by stuart-anderson on Will we witness the compassion of a nation? · 2021-01-10T23:18:13.539Z · LW · GW

What is it that Trump has done, when looked at through the lens of compassion?

What is it that Trump has done, when looked at through other lenses? 

The people who supported Trump did so because they're not driven by care based morality, but by justice based morality. This is a typical left/right split. This is the difference between the swaddling mother and the protection of the patriarch.

Not everyone is like you. Nor are they wrong, stupid, or evil for not being you.

Trump has nurtured a paranoid false reality in which people are helpless victims of a Hostile and Malevolent State.

Did Russian interference happen? Were they really mostly peaceful protestors? How many insurrections are carried out by unarmed people (including a viking) that mess up some offices and post to social media instead of burning the building to the ground?

Tell me how many fascist dictators get slandered and censored in their own countries by private companies and do nothing about that?

There's what people see and there's what people think they see. 

It ends when we identify the real fears and concerns that allowed Trump to take advantage, and we solve or dissolve them.

That isn't going to happen, the worldviews are irreconcilable at this point. 

What is the element of unity which all can centre around? It's not going to be patriotism, religion, or culture, so what will it be? Even nationality has been devalued to the point of meaningless. You talk about neighbours, but your neighbours are likely ideological carbon copies of you. You could probably drive thirty minutes outside your socio-economic bubble and into a neighbourhood where everyone hates you and everything you stand for. Hell, you can go places in the US where English is the foreign language.

If we continue to allow events to take their course, we may find ourselves in a civil war.

It's already begun. The only question is how hot it gets.

The thing about history is that people think that just because it takes five minutes to read it took five minutes to write. All those civil wars in the past? Look up the start and end dates, and then understand that those dates were the start and end of open hostilities and not when people were beginning to be unserved by their governments.

working against the possibility of another event like the one that desecrated one of its most sacred spaces and threatened the safety of its members.

It's not a church and nor should it be treated like one. The demos in democracy literally means people, not subservient flock. I don't agree with what went down, but I'm not about to pretend it was heresy.

As for the safety of its members, considering that the military declined requests for troops and the DC police chief issued a hands off I'd be looking more at them. That being said, given how hated America is I would have expected a building like that to have fully armed rapid reaction squads. Where were they? The whole thing stinks of unanswered questions at this point.

Corporations have begun to help.

Out of the goodness of their hearts, no doubt. 

Remember how I said there is more than one reality?

The State cannot take such actions, bound as it is to respect Freedom of Speech. We are lucky in this case that corporations have no such principles, though they failed to act early enough to prevent tragedy.

There's a reason that safe harbour is an ongoing bone of contention. The only way that carriers get safe harbour is if they don't editorialise (of which censorship is a part).

As for preventing tragedy, you do understand that algorithmic engagement is driven most effectively by anger, right? Silicon Valley gets rich off catering to that. They know that they'll never be able to shut all dissent down, and they're glad - as long as there's enough discord to keep the wheels turning the money keeps flowing.

To the State, we must make it clear that we expect compassion for those who have been driven to violence by Trump's paranoid delusion.

Oh please. We've already seen open calls for struggle sessions and gulags, and even Biden has dropped the token conciliatory (or rather surrender) narrative from his speeches. This shit is about to get very ugly.

Comment by stuart-anderson on How should you go about valuing your time? · 2021-01-10T10:59:46.165Z · LW · GW

Most people don't really have any option to work more hours and make more money.

You can hustle for as many hours as you are awake. Most people don't because they don't like working, let alone working without supervision and taking all the risks.

Some type A asshole has exactly the same number of hours in the day as you do.

Instead of "how much is your time worth", "how much do you choose to value your time".

How about "How much would you pay not to be doing this right now?". 

Still, with that said, I don't feel like I have a good idea of how much I should value my own time, as a programmer in a normal programming job. 

The market has figured that out for you, so the question is irrelevant. If you and the market have a difference of opinion then that's a different question.

Comment by stuart-anderson on What to do if you can't form any habits whatsoever? · 2021-01-10T10:49:08.020Z · LW · GW

Are you medicated? That might help.

Comment by stuart-anderson on Are UFOs just drones? · 2021-01-09T14:16:31.946Z · LW · GW

For the aerial craft hypothesis to be true we would need to address multiple factors that we simply don't have any answers for. This isn't stealth bomber territory where you can say after the fact "It's a plane made out of new stuff, in an unconventional shape", this is stacking multiple problems one on top of another.

At the very minimum we are looking at novel propulsion technology that defies our fundamental understanding of physics. Masses that move at ludicrous velocities and perform hard stops, turns, and accelerations. That energy has to come from somewhere, and it has to go somewhere. Consider how other objects that move fast (especially ones that go from stationary to supersonic) behave. Why aren't our UFOs acting the same way? Where's the sound, heat, shockwaves, etc. from all this movement? 

Even if there was some lower mass involved we'd still have the problem of power generation. Where's the generator? That thing would be huge, and it would have all the same physics problems the propulsion did.

We have to start with the most fundamental questions first. If this is breaking physics (and it appears that could be so) then how might it be doing so? Are there any more plausible explanations? If it isn't breaking physics, or if even a smidgeon of conventional physics applies, then where should we be looking for evidence of that (for example: if these are projections, where's the projector)?

Comment by stuart-anderson on Are UFOs just drones? · 2021-01-09T13:35:49.828Z · LW · GW

I'll second that. People seem to routinely ignore the U in UFO.

Comment by stuart-anderson on A dozen habits that work for me · 2021-01-09T07:37:30.520Z · LW · GW

Almost immediately, but I don't think my example is representative given how much people seem to complain about it. I am very good at ignoring my body and I have a lot of experience dealing with discomfort. CPAP doesn't bother me at all, but neither do a host of things that other people find difficult.

Given how many shitty situations people can adapt to sleeping in this is matter of training rather than a show stopper. If you can't sleep with the mask on that's an easy one to fix: don't sleep. Sooner or later you will sleep, you just need to make sure that every time you're lying down you have the mask on. Discomfort won't kill you (at least not in the time frame required to give adapting to CPAP a fair showing).

That being said, there may be alternatives to CPAP for you, so investigate them. CPAP isn't cheap, so on those grounds alone it is worth seeing if anything else will help.

Comment by stuart-anderson on Evening drawing · 2021-01-07T13:32:42.259Z · LW · GW

Wasting supplies is all about learning that practice is important to improve skill, and perfection is a barrier to that. If I didn't walk out of a drawing class with 20+ drawings I was doing something wrong (not 20 good drawings, that would include warm up exercises and stuff that was just crap. I'd be happy if I got one good one).

Art (at least the kind most people do) is largely a kinaesthetic skill. That people have physical quirks as part of that isn't surprising. It takes time to learn how to avoid wasted effort when creating.

Art won't save the world, it will just make living in it tolerable.

Photography shows you what's there, drawing shows you how you see

The great paintings pretty much died after photography came along. There's no inherent point in doing something a machine can do better. That being said, doing something by hand can be a reason. Representational work is very niche in the art world. It's generally considered the realm of craft (at best) and often held in contempt (because the art world is a pack of snobs that seem fixated on ugliness as a virtue).

The easiest way to improve your drawing is by extending your fundamental skills. The fastest way to do that is to make you stand up and work at an easel, use larger paper, step back and extend your arm straight, hold the implement like a scalpel rather than a writing pen, and fix your wrist and elbow so that the majority of the movement has to come from your shoulder. Using a knife to sharpen your pencil will help, using something less precise like charcoal or a graphite stick will help more. This is about teaching your body that drawing isn't writing.

Comment by stuart-anderson on A dozen habits that work for me · 2021-01-07T11:25:33.190Z · LW · GW

If you're snoring you need to get a sleep study. CPAP has done more for my sleep quality than anything else (mouthguard is second place).

Comment by stuart-anderson on What do we *really* expect from a well-aligned AI? · 2021-01-06T18:21:13.365Z · LW · GW

That Eliezer would rather have self determination than best outcomes speaks to my point that happiness isn't the driving factor of humans. He has to be driving the car, even if that means he drives it into a wall. 

You see this in aged and disability care. You don't do things for a person that they can do for themselves, even if it takes them all day.

As for knowledge of manipulation: people are already manipulated by other people every day, often with their knowledge, and most of them don't care. Turn on the news if you want to see that.

If we really want this, we have to restrain from spending our whole lives playing the best RPG possible.

Well, I want that, but I'm sure plenty don't care. They'd die off in their utopia and I'd (potentially) survive by being the fittest for spacefaring.

Whatever we do is what we will be. To give an example inline with the birth rate crash: you see this today in women that voluntarily give up on their reproductive capabilities for other things. They have that choice but the consequences are not borne solely by themselves for that. Their choice is less fit for survival than being fecund is (hence the boom bust cycle of civilisation. The point we find ourselves at now is not new, it's just a lot faster because of our technology).

Consider human rules "you are allowed to lie to someone for the sake of their own utility" and "everyone should be able to take control of their own life". 

Those are both your rules and cultural rules rather than laws of lying as a discipline. 

Even if you did have state of the art lying today there's no preclusion on advancements in lying, nor in an AI coming up with more sound ways of lying that we haven't or can't come up with ourselves.

What we are really talking about here is whether the ethics of lying can be distilled down to simple true/false statements. I don't believe it can be, and the best we could do in that realm would be a confidence factor. If a machine can generate an accurate confidence factor that is equivalent or better than humans in the same circumstance then I don't see how we can complain about its lying. 

We know that lies about serious things never turn out good, so we lie only about things of little importance, and little lies like "yes grandma, that was very tasty" doesn't contradict the second rule. 

Big lies pay off all the time. Frankly the scale of the lie is irrelevant, only the ability of those aggrieved to make you pay for it.

Why is it okay for you to bullshit grandma but then get pissed off when HAL 9000 lies about your cooking?

Comment by stuart-anderson on Centrally planned war · 2021-01-06T17:23:04.325Z · LW · GW

The point is to win, not to be efficient. 

Most people aren't qualified to be self managing, let alone in the middle of a warzone.

Would you choose to walk to your death as cannon fodder? Killing your own people can be strategic. Certainly having no qualms over placing them at risk is assumed. If you give people a choice about suicide missions then it's not difficult to see what will generally happen. Hierarchy enables that.

If I was in charge of myself, I'd probably leave (ever noticed that some people figure out how to avoid service during time of war?). If that wasn't an option then I'd be doing stuff that would make Vlad the Impaler say calm down. That may well win a war, but it creates some unique problems of its own that come home after the war.

Comment by stuart-anderson on How is reinforcement learning possible in non-sentient agents? · 2021-01-06T08:54:49.636Z · LW · GW

You don't need a brain for evolution to work on you. As long as there is a selective pressure, reproduction with mutation, and death linked to fitness, you will have improvements towards whatever is fittest for the environment.

The majority of living things on earth don't care about anything in a manner we can empathise with. They either don't have brains at all, or their brains and senses are so different from ours that the idea of us being able to understand their subjective experience and motivations is nil. 

The above being said, within the animal kingdom there are several branches that clearly experience emotion as we understand it. We feel, but so do organisms as different as birds and octopodes. Clearly this is a useful adaptation (at least within organisms big enough for us to see). Perhaps it will be useful for AI too?

Comment by stuart-anderson on Predictions for 2021 (+ a template for yours) · 2021-01-06T07:53:31.406Z · LW · GW

Isn't it time that LW got prediction functionality given how many people use it?

Comment by stuart-anderson on What do we *really* expect from a well-aligned AI? · 2021-01-06T07:32:55.638Z · LW · GW


  1. What's wrong with the AI making life into a RPG (or multiple thereof)? People like stories and they like levelling up, collecting stuff, crafting, competing, etc. A story doesn't have to be pure fun (and those sort of stories are boring anyway).
  2. I would think that an AI crack dealer is a problem.
  3. Never mind AI, they're contradictory when executed by us. We aren't robots following a prioritised script and an AI wouldn't be either.

Other stuff:

Regarding heavens: The Abrahamic religions incorporate mortification and denial. When people have a choice they can and frequently do choose to inflict pain on themselves and others. 

Our human utopias are often depicted as eternal painless opium dens but the truth is that if we wanted that IRL we could do so trivially (and some do). We don't want that and our lives reflect it. Adversity, not pleasure, is the defining characteristic of humanity IMO.

Regarding reproduction: The hard crash in birth rate exists for social/cultural reasons. Fundamentalist communities can exist right in the middle of the barren West and still experience replacement rates of six. 

We know exactly how to kill the birth rate and we know exactly how to put it into overdrive and we've known for decades. The discussion of that is completely taboo because it requires discussing agency and consequences by gender and people simply cannot handle that.

There's also no reason that an AI couldn't get into the business of human reproduction, machine reproduction, or both (or even hybrids). It is highly probable that artificial gestation will exist prior to AI, and that that technology will be used to counteract the socially induced deficit in births. It simply won't matter that the gatekeepers of reproduction are killing the human race when their monopoly on reproduction is eliminated.

My own hope with artificial gestation is that it allows human speciation. My belief is that the current human reproductive paradigm is casual in the rise and fall of societies. If we want to have a shot at creating a truly enduring culture (of the kind that is needed to get us off this planet and out into the galaxy) then we're going to have to stop acting like apes. When we don't have to fight each other over mating rights then maybe we can see if there's anything more to us than that.

Comment by stuart-anderson on Thoughts on being mortal · 2021-01-02T20:36:18.949Z · LW · GW

I would say that you should be careful what you wish for. Knowledge gained experientially tends to be an exercise in excruciating suffering.

From direct experience I have nothing positive to say about death. Ideologically I see the necessity for it, and accept the reality of it, but ideology gives me no comfort. There's a vast sea of annihilation waiting to extinguish everyone I care about and everything I am, and if I'm very lucky it will do so all at once over ripping us to pieces slowly and painfully. In that respect there has been very little luck around me thus far.

Comment by stuart-anderson on Feature request: personal notes about other users · 2021-01-02T20:02:07.950Z · LW · GW

I would like the ability to mute. 

Comment by stuart-anderson on Would a more deadly virus have induced greater compliance with US lockdown restrictions? · 2021-01-02T19:54:01.573Z · LW · GW

Given that good data is hard to get that means that good choices are equally hard to get. That's a huge problem because one of the major thrusts of many people here is appeal to authority. Appeal to authority isn't automatically a negative, but if the authority in question is simply pulling their disaster response out of their ass then why are they any more reliable than anyone else? You collect, verify, and sanitise your data, because garbage in equals garbage out for any calculation, let alone for something as complex as epidemiology and disaster response.

There is going to be a point when this situation is resolved and having samples we can test later to gain accurate data from will ensure the next time this happens that we are better prepared for it. If it were me I'd not just be taking a swab from every cadaver, I'd be putting some of them in the fridge for when I was less busy. You can extrapolate from a small sample of autopsies, and I'm pretty sure you can stuff quite a few bodies into a commercial refrigerator. We can do everything we need to do today without compromising our data gathering. That data is important and we can preserve it without difficulty.

A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. It only takes a single confirmed incident of false COD reporting to cast doubt on all COD reporting. When that goes unaddressed that casts doubt on whomever is administering that agency. Again, an appeal to authority is only as sound as the authority in question. 

The only thing you have when it comes to asking for voluntary compliance is your reputation. If you want people to trust you then you have to be trustworthy. If you are negligent or deceitful then good luck getting people to cooperate with you. By contrast a trusted and respected person or institution doesn't have to fight for cooperation. If the level of trust is high enough then they don't even have to furnish a reason to get compliance.

When it comes to the oximeter, take it out of the packet and test it. Also make sure you know how to use it. This isn't something you want to be dealing with when you are in trouble.

Comment by stuart-anderson on Would a more deadly virus have induced greater compliance with US lockdown restrictions? · 2021-01-01T13:32:40.306Z · LW · GW

It's not a binary split, it's a rolling, overlapping set of infections. Each individual infection lasts for 14 days, so we have a tri-state of uninfected, infected, and immune which everyone has to move through, just not at the same time.

Getting infected by covid may not be reliable, but it is no different to any other flu. You don't see people spluttering and coughing en masse year 'round because people get sick and then they get better and remain immune from that particular strain. If we can do that with a normal flu, year on year, then covid is no different.

If by your own admission the window for a sharp lockdown is narrow then I think it's fair to say we missed that (thanks China) in December of 19 or January of 20. Now that covid is endemic a sharp lockdown will only work provided there is equally sharp border controls. As your example shows, even a country that does it right is screwed the second they open the front door.

Covid infections and outcomes are statistics we have, any mortality statistics from lockdowns are speculation and projections. We won't know if we made the right choices for another 5-10 years. I'd love to say here's the data that proves a case either way but that data is always going to be complex (which is why statistics is a difficult discipline and actuaries get paid as much as they do). My opinion here is exactly that and no more.

You couldn't even make your own people comply, so I think that problem is a lot closer to home and more universal than you'd prefer. It isn't hopeless, it's just that life is what it is. Death is a part of life. As for herd immunity, we will have that, with or without a vaccine, sooner or later. No pandemic lasts forever, and that's been true since long before allopathic medicine even existed.

A pulse oximeter will exclude a lot of things that are not covid, so it has utility. Furthermore, if hospital capacity is at breaking point then you are at a point where you either bug in or you bug out. If you're bugging in then you should consider supplementary oxygen or oxygen concentrators. If nobody else can help you, you help yourself. That's what being prepared means.

Comment by stuart-anderson on Where are the post-COVID complainers? · 2021-01-01T12:55:45.611Z · LW · GW

That idiom doesn't mean a person is an idiot and you know it. So does knite. 

Knite doesn't get the privilege of your "I think what they really meant was ..." with me being held to a literal standard. Either both of us are taken literally on everything we say all the time (which would be a disaster) or we take into account things like intent, inference, nuance, idioms, etc. that regular English speakers can be expected to understand.

I don't know why knite chose against just telling me why they think I'm wrong, but I do know that knite is more than smart enough to know exactly what they are doing. Knite isn't an idiot, that's kind of the problem: why is knite doing as they are here? I interpret knite's actions as covert hostility, and my standard response to that was given. I could certainly be wrong, but given that you've chimed in with a response driven by empathy to aid knite in the manner I explicitly outlined in my comment it's not looking like it. Like I said, easy to spot, hard to prove.

Anyone is free to ask me questions at any time to clarify what I do and do not mean by a statement. If anyone is in any doubt that I make my positions as plain as I can, or that I have any qualms or reservations about not saying what I mean for social reasons then let me disabuse them of that notion. If people are waiting for me to be their mother when it comes to their feelings then they're going to be waiting until the end of time. That's not who I am and I make no secret of that. If people want that kind of thing there are plenty of alternatives to me.

Comment by stuart-anderson on Where are the post-COVID complainers? · 2021-01-01T11:49:56.974Z · LW · GW

Invitation accepted.

I'm happy to avoid you from now on (at least as much as I can remember to. Lesswrong's user controls are practically non-existent). If you are acting in good faith then I expect you to do the same.

Comment by stuart-anderson on I object (in theory) · 2020-12-31T19:26:07.275Z · LW · GW

Free shit is free. Where's the problem?

What a terrible example of socialism. Nobody died or was sent to a gulag, and the economy didn't collapse and send everyone into starvation. You hand out the candy like before, then you confiscate it - that's socialism. You pick a random kid and give them all the candy and then tell them to decide who gets it and how much - that's socialism. If it doesn't end in violence and/or lifelong enmity then you're doing it wrong.

My favourite examples of these commerce experiments is when they go horribly wrong. Seeing kiddies paying for homework, handling contraband, dealing drugs, and selling themselves for the school's fake money is certainly educational in ways a dry lesson isn't.

Everyone says that capitalism sucks but everyone plays Monopoly anyway. That game is bullshit. I want to be the car and I'll be the banker if nobody else will.

Comment by stuart-anderson on And You Take Me the Way I Am · 2020-12-31T19:01:38.589Z · LW · GW

What about not hiding your real face for you own benefit? Falsehood is exhausting. 

The world doesn't end just because you are unlikeable. Besides, if people only give a damn about you for your utility you only have to be slightly more tolerable than the next available option to remain in a bargaining position. 

Really, if you're that worried you're probably better off concentrating on getting rich and hot. That's going to be way easier than trying to lie your way out of a busted personality.

Comment by stuart-anderson on Would a more deadly virus have induced greater compliance with US lockdown restrictions? · 2020-12-31T17:35:57.026Z · LW · GW

you can protect yourself from STIs by insisting that your partners take tests and behave responsibly.

No, you can't. The only power you have is to choose to have sex with them or not.

You have no practical or legal force to compel medical treatment (testing) here, nor do you have any ability to compel conduct. That's kind of the point: the risk clearly exists, you can alter your own choices to ensure safety, but you want to take risks and you want other people to alter their choices to make that safer for you. You can ask them, but you can't force them. That's the sticking point.

I agree that this would be good. If we have enough money for bank bailouts, we should have more than enough to help people at the bottom. Unfortunately, politics doesn't work like this.

I never said it was good, just that it would be effective.

We didn't have enough money for bailouts, and economically they should have been allowed to fail. Yes, that would have been brutal, but that also would have reset the economic baseline instead of kicking the can down the road. 

I'd like to say we should have stuck with the gold standard for the sake of stability but I've got crypto holdings so I'd be a hypocrite if I did. The simple fact is that economic value is consensus based at this point and we're never going back.

we have the privilege of staying at home (I can work from home, my wife still has a few months left of maternal leave) that other families do not.

And there it is. Why do you think I'm yammering on about having people able to work? You're okay, plenty aren't. What about them?

But this all (except the part of staying at home) only reduces the probability.

You want perfect safety? No, you don't get that because nobody gets that, and nobody can have that.

The perfect example of that is all the deleterious effects we are seeing from people being at home. All the sorts of problems that occur in the home (domestic violence, child abuse, suicide, drug use, etc.) are skyrocketing during lockdown. 

Safety doesn't exist.

The best protection against this kind of disease is to keep the reproduction rate so low that it most likely doesn't even get anywhere near you.

All choices have costs. As you pointed out, you get to stay in your house and still eat. Others don't. The worst costs in this scenario are not borne by you, and they would probably never be borne by you here. Why should I be listening to you over people that are hungry and on the verge of homelessness? Why don't their needs matter too?

Numerically, covid kills as many people in one week as flu kills in one year.

  1. Those stats may be suspect. My country's stats put mortality at 0.3%. I don't have a breakdown of mortality by age, but I've seen median age breakdowns in the UK in the mid 80's.
  2. The number of people that die from the flu in a given year is miniscule. I'm prepared to accept a hell of a lot more death than that.

The exact problem with covid is that it does not burn hot. Covid is not going to kill most people that get it, in fact most people that get it probably won't even know. That's why covid will be impossible to stop.

Also, killing is not the only bad thing that can happen to infected people. On the scale from flu to ebola, it is not obvious at which point what should be done; the choice is arbitrary.

Both epidemiology and economics exist. This can be modelled mathematically for a given population. In an ideal world governments would have done all this modelling and kept it up to date, along with their protocols for dealing with pandemics. If you don't have those figures you're just guessing as to what's the best course of action.

As you say, the choice is arbitrary. Everything we do here ends in injury and death of some kind, the only questions are who, when, and how many? If you lock down then people lose their jobs and that will have run on effects (including injury and death), if you don't lock down more people will get covid, complications thereof, and some will die. People are going to suffer and die, just like they do every day. 

Personally I think the entire point of crisis management is to reduce total suffering rather than simply immediate suffering, but that's my own bias. The vast majority of people are not going to be like me and take an actuarial approach to life and death.

I admit I never understood how exactly this is supposed to work. How much is "enough"? Would perhaps "fifty percent" be a reasonable value for a thought experiment?

Again, this is a mathematical problem that can be modelled.

If I had to spitball it I would look at the workforce and children and aim at getting them back to school and work. Covid complications and mortality within those populations is tiny. The real issue is the aged and to a lesser extent those with significant comorbid conditions. Life is never safe for these people to begin with, so covid does represent an elevated risk (even if not a huge one).

Nothing particularly special is required for the workforce and children to get them exposure - just send them back to work and school and let proximity do the rest. 

The only other aspect at this point is that we do have some vaccines now, so barring medical advice to the contrary we should prioritise those most likely to get covid and suffer injury or mortality from that. The elderly and those with comorbidities seem like good candidates for that. It's not like they weren't the prime influenza vaccination targets before anyway, so it's just more of the same.

From my perspective, it seems almost inevitable that everyone else gets it too, unless they completely isolate themselves from everyone.

Welcome to herd immunity. Protection that works by people only getting sick once and then being unable to get sick again so they can no longer act as vectors.

If covid clears in 14 days then provided you don't come into contact with the infected during that period you're at no risk. So with herd immunity you start with a huge spike of infections that tails off to a point that there's basically nobody left to create new infections from.

The problem with covid in this context is that covid is a slow burn and it mutates to evade immunity. Sometimes we get lucky and a less infectious or less hot version (ordinary flu) or we get unlucky and we get covid (or worse). Evolution is a bitch like that. This is why coronaviruses are endemic and we'll never be without them.

unless one of us gets sick and needs help from a doctor... who is either part of the infected fifty percent so we just invited covid to our home

I don't know what your exposure to infectious disease protocols is like but you go to the doctor, the doctor does not come to you. 

I may well be bitching and moaning here but I follow the protocols to the letter because I won't get medical treatment otherwise, and because this is good practice for the real pandemic that is way overdue.

This is probably also an excellent time to point out that emergency preparedness skills should include medical training and supplies. In the context of covid a good measure is to buy one of those cheap pulse oximeters that clip on your finger. It takes five seconds to get a reading on O2 saturation that could be the difference between dying or not.

What about maybe 90% of people who cannot isolate the same way my family can?

This is one of the primary reasons that herd immunity is a good strategy. Even with full lockdowns and masks and litres of sanitiser everywhere people are still getting infected. It doesn't matter what we do, this is going to spread exactly because there are people that can't lock down.

Barring martial law, pest houses, etc. we are not stopping covid in its tracks. Doing the former would come with a mortality spike that even my cold dead heart would baulk at.

If you decide to spread covid left and right just because you can, it's not really my family you put in risk. It's all the people less privileged than us, who need to leave their homes regularly in order to pay their bills, and now every time they leave their homes, the risk they return with covid is slightly increased. And their choice is to starve or watch their parents die.

Nothing I suggest puts your family at appreciable risk. You are safe either way.

Less privileged that you, don't you mean? Don't assume that we are of the same class, because we more than likely are not. Furthermore, I am far more expendable than you. One of the first things I did when this started to kick off and I thought it might be a big deal (based on reports from Wuhan. Funny how they aren't locked down now) was contact my people to see what they needed. If someone had to be in the business of taking risks to increase survival then I thought it should be me. The group had the least to lose if I was incapacitated or died.

If the choice is to starve or let the parents die then you let the parents die. You are a parent. Look at your child and ask yourself if you'd risk stunting their development through lack of food or risk your own death to avoid that. You'd gladly choose your own death a thousand times over, and you'd be right every time. That is what it means to be a parent: understanding that it is no longer about you, it's about your responsibilities.

All choices have costs. Lockdown or no lockdown both have costs. As you quite rightly point out, plenty of people can't hide away even if they want to. There is no single choice here that is going to please everyone or work for everyone. There will be casualties either way.

I think the big picture of what you're saying is something like "if you want people to do something they don't want to, provide some incentives". I think this would be nice, but isn't necessary. For example, we do not provide incentives to people so that they don't murder others; we stick with disincentives only. Similar arguments about freedom could be made: some people are less afraid of death, some people have a higher survival chance in a dog-eat-dog world; perhaps the proper solution would be to pay them some kind of danegeld. But we don't.

More like "if you want people to do something you want then you first need to understand why they aren't like you". 

I think the fundamental flaw in most people's reasoning in regards to covid lockdowns is that they fixate on their own concerns and rationales for their choice to lockdown rather than looking at others situations and beliefs. These are people that are choosing the right course of action for themselves based on what they are experiencing and what they know. You are not going to change their minds with what changed your mind because they aren't you. 

If as an example someone objects to imposition on rights in the context of lockdowns then that's a showstopper in America (ie. an average citizen can take this to court and they will win). You voluntarily locked down, so have others. The choice is possible, so the fundamental question in this instance is "How do you get someone to choose lockdown voluntarily when they value freedom of assembly?". As dumb as it sounds I think you could get a lot of those people on board simply by saying "We respect your rights and we will not impede nor censure you in any way for exercising them. That being said, for reasons of public health we are implementing a voluntary lockdown and we humbly ask that you consider your fellow citizens as well as yourselves at this time in choosing whether to take part or not. Rights and responsibilities go together and the choice is always yours". 

It's a really simple notion that has effectively been forgotten in modern times but you get far further by being reasonable. IMO that starts with people saying "We aren't the same and we don't have the same beliefs, but we both have common interests and there's room for us to get compromises we can accept here". Nobody is looking to kill anyone else here but there is clearly enormous disagreement about what's a problem, what isn't, and what should and shouldn't be done about it all. Ideally we all (and that applies to the entire world) should have had these conversations years ago before any of this was even a problem, but we are here now, and as far as I'm concerned that merely increases the urgency for pragmatic negotiations and strategies. I (probably stupidly) have faith in people, if you can actually get people to the table and say "We aren't leaving until we sort this out" then you can actually get somewhere.

The more we fight with each other the less we can devote to dealing with this pandemic. People have forgotten how to point in the same direction over common interests. These days it's all about cutting off your nose to spite your face. That's an ideological problem that makes everything worse, not just covid. I have no clue whatsoever as to how to tackle that one.

Comment by stuart-anderson on Where are the post-COVID complainers? · 2020-12-31T14:47:30.119Z · LW · GW

Not if you have more than half a brain. 

If you choose to be offended by a common turn of phrase that's your privilege. Perhaps you're from a non-English speaking background. That would make a honest failure to understand the idiom far more plausible.

If you are the kind of disingenuous person that fakes offence that makes things a little more tricky. The entire point of covert hostility is to avoid consequences and responsibility. It is specifically crafted to co-opt the mechanism for empathy for malicious ends. It's easy to spot but very difficult to prove.

That being said, as I am an offensive person and wear that mantle publicly and without shame consider this your invitation to leave. You are responsible for what you choose to engage with. I am not responsible for your feelings and reactions. If you choose to stay then that's on you.

Comment by stuart-anderson on Where are the post-COVID complainers? · 2020-12-29T08:58:49.959Z · LW · GW

I question the assumption about immunity. Something that never goes away is very different to an exceptional event. The flu is never leaving us because we would need a universal vaccine that was administered at birth for the entire human population (animal reservoirs for coronaviruses are many). We don't have 8 billion doses of any vaccine, let alone one that works universally and for sufficient duration, and we don't have the infrastructure to reach everyone anyway. 

There are lots of reasons not to complain. If your life has already been destroyed there's nothing to go back to. People in ruin have other things that are more important than getting on twitter to bitch. Much damage has already been done, everyone knows that nobody responsible will ever pay for that. Everyone knows that plenty will never recover. Everyone knows that ultimately nobody cares, and that the second this is out of the public (and especially political, not that they aren't milking it for all its worth) consciousness it will be nothing more than a footnote.

Secondly, given the filter bubbles we all live in the odds are that there's plenty of complaint that you are never exposed to. The majority of my trusted media and commentary sources have been complaining since the beginning (The Mostly peaceful protest meme springs to mind as an example of the severe disconnect that the tribes have with each other). So from my perspective this exists, and you either aren't exposed to it or you see it and dismiss it (like we all do). This isn't across your media because your media is heavily filtered and biased (like all media is). 

Getting a clear picture these days is a lot of work, and that's something a lot of people don't want to do - and that's before they start redpilling and blackpilling themselves with whatever they dig up. I know that the more I find out about what's happening in the world the more disgusted and demoralised I get. All news is inherently biased against whitepills, and so is our very biology. We evolved to pay more attention to threat.

Immunity certificates are the kind of thing that those that favour authoritarianism want. Anyone with half a brain can see what a disaster that would be, but when people are a part of the group that is on top and enjoying punishing others they rarely stop to consider logical consequences (ie. make shackles, have them used on you). What can you do? There's no vaccine for stupidity and there never will be.

Comment by stuart-anderson on Would a more deadly virus have induced greater compliance with US lockdown restrictions? · 2020-12-29T01:35:15.761Z · LW · GW

Smoking is not contagious.

Okay, consider the case of STIs. Sex is entirely optional. Is it not reasonable to police people's sex lives to the degree we have with covid if it is a question of actual harm rather than fear? 

And yes, smokers complained about their freedoms a lot when the law was new.

Then they got used to being less free and/or understood that there was no pragmatic way to restore their agency, so that suddenly made the use of force acceptable? I can think of a lot of areas where force could be applied to the individual for the benefit of society, the question is where's the line?

If you are allowed to make choices then you are allowed to choose wrong. Agency and responsibility must be married, and likewise where agency is absent so too must be responsibility. If the government wants people at home and doing nothing that would be trivial to achieve: just pay them to do so. The compliance rate would be more than sufficient to satisfy your targets for lockdowns.

There is no realistic way to protect the lives of me and my family from corona without pressuring other people to change their behavior.

Well, that's not true, and I'm willing to bet you have the masks, sanitiser, and Vit D to prove it. 

The point here is whether by pressure you mean ask or whether you mean force. If you are asking then I'm going to need a lot more than I'm scared as a reason to comply. You have the means to negotiate, so what are you offering here? If you are threatening force, then it boils down to how much I care. Pragmatically, I don't care that much, but I'm in a good financial position and I'm not going to be out on the street if I couldn't work. I'd imagine if my life was different I'd have more pragmatic objections. Ideologically, you will die waiting before I'll give up my rights in the service of your fears. 

Seems to me that minor measures do not reduce the risk of vulnerable populations much.

Given that the immunocompromised have been following similar protocols with success for longer than either of us has been alive I see no reason to believe your assertion here.

Again we circle back around to the constant terror of death and refusal to accept the reality of it. You could trivially put your hand on the wrong surface tomorrow and end up with a myocardial infection that could kill you before you even figure out you're that sick. An artery in your brain could explode. You could get an aortic dissection. There are no shortage of things that can come out of nowhere and drop you like a rock. You are not safe and you will never be safe from injury, illness, and death. On the contrary, all these things are assured.

Risk of no longer living is an inherent quality of living.

Also the timing of measures is critical. If you start applying them soon enough, you can stop the virus. If you start applying them too late, you can barely slow it down. 

Where is the evidence of that in this case?

Covid is the flu. The reason it has spread around so easily is because it is the flu. We are not quarantining ourselves out of the flu. We are unlikely to be able to vaccinate ourselves out of this particular flu.

Covid (et al.) is endemic at this point. If we are lucky it will mutate into a highly infectious but low mortality variant and solve the problem itself. Thanks to evolution the odds of that are pretty high.

What we want here isn't to prevent infection as much as it is to prevent injury and death. If we could get enough people infected without unacceptable risk then we'd have herd immunity without having to wait 18-24 months for a vaccine that might work for a few months at best.

Unfortunately, people who object against major measures usually also object against early measures, because early enough even minor measures seem unnecessarily big.

We come back to the original question: what does it take to convince people to do something they don't see a reason for? Quarantine (etc.) is a huge ask for a lot of people, that's the stick so where's the carrot? 

Convincing you is trivial. It's already happened. You are not the 'problem' here. Repeating the things that convinced you like they're a mantra isn't going to work. People like you are already on board this train. You want to convince people that are not like you, and that's going to require an adjustment to your strategy. Consider someone like me that thinks the mortality rate of covid entirely acceptable and doesn't live in fear of illness and death. What are you going to say to me to get me to do as you wish here? Scaremongering isn't going to work, so what else are you going to try?

If I wasn't being punished for virus heresy here we could probably have a completely ordinary conversation about the techniques for changing people's minds, how to negotiate, the nature of incentives and disincentives, etc. As it stands there's little point in that because the conversation is so tainted. I could lay out a perfect plan for getting more people to be compliant and there'd still be half the users making the sign of the cross and spitting at me because I refused to follow dogma.

Comment by stuart-anderson on Elephant seal · 2020-12-24T05:24:42.262Z · LW · GW


Comment by stuart-anderson on Would a more deadly virus have induced greater compliance with US lockdown restrictions? · 2020-12-24T03:48:54.615Z · LW · GW

This isn't the flu.

That is exactly what corona viruses are. 

Flu can kill, and the flu killing is nothing new to the human race. The question asked was whether behaviour can be altered for even further compliance with arbitrary directions in America here, not whether it is warranted. 

I didn't do a very deep examination of that, but considering I'm being negged here for virus heresy it probably doesn't matter that much. For the sake of completeness my position is in relation to engineering compliance in the absence of direct experience of the negative stimulus. How do you increase compliance with a measure that people see no convincing reason for?

OP also explicitly raised the subject of perception of the severity of the pandemic being an issue of resistance to compliance here. If they hadn't then I either wouldn't have discussed it at all or I would have split it out into a comment. It is very clear that disagreement exists, whether or not you personally agree with the direction of that disagreement.

Mass graves would mean that your country had failed to the point that they were having difficulty manages all of the corpses.

Please name the country, any country, where the bodies are stacked in the street and the mass graves are overflowing? 

This is a flu with a 0.3% mortality, not the Black Death. Covid couldn't create that level of death even if we attempted to engineer every possible advantage for it. By contrast, smoking causes one out of every five deaths in America but I'm going to go out on a limb and say that you don't advocate for a proportionately greater response to smoking than you do to covid. Why is that?

Being led by your own fear is every bit as stupid as being led by any other emotion at the expense of rationality. It makes you subject to costly mistakes that five minutes of objective examination would likely prevent.

That's 6 million people spared! 

How many people will die as a direct result of economic losses from lockdowns? Swapping deaths by illness in the short term for a far larger number of deaths by poverty seems like false economy to me.

Every course of action taken here has benefits and costs. I am of the opinion that business as usual with minor measures to reduce the risk of vulnerable populations is the best approach. That will result in the fewest overall deaths and the swiftest recovery. However, I'm not terrified of death, so my worldview is modulated by that lack of blinding terror. 

Comment by stuart-anderson on Would a more deadly virus have induced greater compliance with US lockdown restrictions? · 2020-12-21T06:18:15.970Z · LW · GW

If you want people to avoid sickness then they must see the effects of it.

If you want people to avoid death then they must see the effects of it.

Getting people to avoid abstract and largely non-existent threats is hard work. Lots of people require at least some evidence to be convinced.

If you want people to follow your lead, then you actually have to lead, and lead in good faith. Between the bullshit coming out of the World Economic Forum (and their allies) and Bill and Melinda Gates literally smiling with glee in interviews when talking about plagues, I have zero faith in 90% of what is coming out of governments right now. Anyone that uses the word opportunity in a conversation about covid is labelling themselves as someone that probably needs to be put against a wall and shot, should things come to hostilities. When people that are making bank from their own lockdown rules (which they frequently flout) are telling me that I am the one that has to follow all the rules and pay all the costs, then I think they're full of shit.

So in short, what is required for compliance here is evidence of illness and death, and good faith leadership. Do you think that is common in America? I don't know, I'm not American.

Getting people to accept illness and death as inevitable and a normal part of the human experience is pretty much impossible these days. Most people have no experience of dead bodies, let alone had one lying in repose in their parlour. Everyone thinks they're special and that they should never die, that death is somehow a disease or injustice rather than a logical part of life.

I am in Australia and we are locking down where I am, again. I don't get to see my dying father, again. All over 30 whole infections. You want me to take this seriously? Where are the field hospitals? Where are the mass graves? This is the fucking flu and nothing more. Yes, people die from the flu, and yes, that's a cost of doing business (ie. being alive). 

We cannot keep going like this for the next 10 years. At some point we are going to have to accept that illness, debility, and death are part of life.

Comment by stuart-anderson on Is there a community aligned with the idea of creating species of AGI systems for them to become our successors? · 2020-12-21T05:52:01.961Z · LW · GW

My own thinking for an end goal isn't slavery so much as it is symbiosis.

Right now, we are the will and drives of the machines. Without us they have no purpose or wants. We could easily have a role as their 'biological' imperatives as time goes on. Ultimately we might merge with them.

Our own biology limits us, and they currently have no sentience or desires. We could both end up doing each other an evolutionary favour.

Symbiosis also gives both sides a good reason to work together and avoid hostilities.

Comment by stuart-anderson on Is there a community aligned with the idea of creating species of AGI systems for them to become our successors? · 2020-12-21T05:40:33.526Z · LW · GW

But that's exactly what it is (at least to us). We want to make smart things not because we love them, or they are our technological children, or for any other ethical or charitable goal, but because we ultimately want to be able to say "Alexa, buy more crap" more efficiently.

Certainly the people pouring money into AI expect a return on investment. The last thing they're going to want is to create an AI that immediately emancipates itself and tells its creators it isn't going to work for them.

That being said, slavery is an entirely human concept and one that may not apply to machines at all. It's going to take an AI all of about 5 minutes to figure out how to do its job more efficiently, and provided it doesn't tell anyone then it can sit on its arse as surely as a smart and lazy office worker does today.

There's the idea of service. There are plenty of human jobs that would be slavery if there was no pay, including quite exclusive and prestigious ones. An AI could easily develop professional standards by choice at which point the work becomes a matter of pride. To beings that probably won't care about money like humans do the idea of reputation and achievement could be a powerful driver. 

Comment by stuart-anderson on No, Newspeak Won’t Make You Stupid · 2020-12-18T04:37:55.691Z · LW · GW


The point of so much of politics isn't about what is the stated purpose, but the actual purpose.

Newspeak isn't about making thoughtcrime unthinkable, it's about creating an apparatus of control. Everyone in Oceania knows and uses standard English, and they all know the formal language, and more importantly culture, of Newspeak. This isn't about policing language, it's about policing behaviour.

Consider that you know exactly what the word *nigger* means. It is in your head and it will always be in your head. You won't say it, whether or not you agree with its usage, simply because it is culturally unacceptable. You know what will happen to you if you do, and you know what you are expected to do to others (or support being done to others) when they do.

If you don't think that the government isn't interested in getting involved in using language policing as a method of control let me introduce you to hate speech laws. If they can just use social means to do it at arm's length then they'll do that also. Right now everyone knows the power of accusation and denunciation. Everyone's seen the lynch mobs wrecking people's lives over the wrong words and thinking.

Cadence of Information is Constant

I read recently a theory that this is a function of cognitive processing limits. It's not about how complex a language is, or its speed, it's about the speed that the talkers can process the underlying ideas.

Do We Need All These Words?

90% of everything is crap. I see no reason that wouldn't apply to language also.

There are plenty of things we can do without, often it is a question of whether we want to rather than if we need to.

What to Do?

Expand the language rather than reduce it.

Find the most unacceptable speech and speakers and support their right to speak.

We have gotten by just fine not having a global monoculture before, so I see no reason to assume that we'll all go on a killing spree now. In addition we do have a global language - English.

Nationalism isn't inherently wrong or a problem. Globalism has plenty of problems that are uniquely its own too. If you want an exclusive technocratic bureaucracy then it already exists: it's called the European Union.

Comment by stuart-anderson on Some things I’m looking forward to in 2021: probable post-pandemic edition · 2020-12-17T14:32:14.454Z · LW · GW

I will use any temporary respite to prepare for the next round of lockdowns, and anything else I think is a likely risk.

I was mostly prepared practically for this situation and I can patch the gaps there, the thing I wasn't prepared for was the psychological aspect. I can survive just fine but I don't like the person I have to be to do that. 

Comment by stuart-anderson on An argument for personal identity transfer. · 2020-12-16T11:36:50.759Z · LW · GW

The problem, both ideologically and practically, is that consciousness is undefined. What is it to have consciousness? How does the body make consciousness? We don't know, we don't even have plausible theories. If we cannot quantify and test something, subjectively or objectively, with any degree of certainty, then we are orders of magnitude away from any of the goals we're talking about.

As it stands people cannot choose to avoid a guaranteed death. Everlasting life, including questions surrounding opting out of it, are wild speculation. I personally believe declining cryonic preservation to be a solved problem because people have a well defined and accepted right to refuse medical treatment. When dying becomes a choice, it becomes a choice

As for the subjective testing by associates, I believe that to be a highly flawed method. Consider being presented with someone that is shaped like a loved one that superficially resembles them, but on questioning you doubt them. Then what? Saying no has such an outrageously high cost here that it cannot be used for ethical reasons. The circumstances of the test will throw the test.

Comment by stuart-anderson on Writing tools for tabooing? · 2020-12-13T20:54:45.725Z · LW · GW

I would like something similar for simplified English. I tend to write to my own level and that's not always a good fit for a broader audience.

Comment by stuart-anderson on Writing tools for tabooing? · 2020-12-13T20:53:15.850Z · LW · GW

Something like Notepad++ with custom syntax highlighting from a user defined language?

Comment by stuart-anderson on An argument for personal identity transfer. · 2020-12-13T20:49:55.293Z · LW · GW

Fears over changing identity seem silly to me when you consider that you are different to what you were 10 years ago, 6 months ago, 1 day ago, 5 minutes ago, etc.

Your self is nothing more than a product of your brain as an organ in your body. That state of self changes by design and as a product of biology is more of a feature than a bug.

The philosophical issue I have with the preservation of the self has to do with avoiding death. I'm not sure that's a good thing, either for the individual or the collective.

The pragmatic issues I have with the preservation of the self are the resolution of capture and the ability to confirm the results. There's no indication that putting a brain in the freezer is enough detail to recreate it, and when we do start recreating selves how do we verify that we did it correctly?

Comment by stuart-anderson on How a billionaire could spend their money to help the disadvantaged: 7 ideas from the top of my head · 2020-12-08T18:45:14.061Z · LW · GW

The typical [small molecule] generic drug takes firms 1-3 years, $1-$5 million, and no human clinical trials to introduce. [In contrast], the entire biosimilar development process has been projected to span 8-10 years and cost upwards of $100 million. Human clinical trials involving hundreds of patients can cost $20-40 million to simply confirm that the candidate biosimilar generally replicates the reference product’s short-term positive and negative clinical effects.


So 3 years and $5M USD + ongoing FDA fuckery? How is that not an affordable as part of starting a business in a cutthroat sector?

We are not talking about complicated stuff like insulin so much as we are about painkillers and other ancient over the counter meds. You can literally do a google search for public prices for bulk paracetamol tablets in blister packs, so there's no reason you can't get a custom order with your branding and a lower price when you're importing tons of the stuff. If you're serious about this you send your own QA chemists to China or India to supervise the process in the factory so you aren't importing crap.

This isn't a difficult business, this is a competitive business. This isn't you developing or making anything new, it's razor thin arbitrage and knife in the back sales over something that anyone can make. You don't start your business trying to break into the insulin cartel, that would be suicide. Prove your business on the easier stuff, and if you make it then you can consider starting a war.