Political Lottery in Switzerland 2020-10-08T05:03:38.824Z
Split-a-Dollar Game 2020-08-24T04:54:22.313Z
The Human Condition 2020-08-16T05:23:15.027Z
Swiss Political System: More than You ever Wanted to Know (III.) 2020-08-11T05:09:00.368Z
Swiss Political System: More than You ever Wanted to Know (II.) 2020-07-22T13:50:04.033Z
Swiss Political System: More than You ever Wanted to Know (I.) 2020-07-19T01:11:54.756Z
Institutional Senescence 2020-06-26T04:40:02.644Z
In Search of Slack 2020-05-23T11:20:02.929Z
Partying over Internet: Technological Aspects 2020-04-05T06:20:01.067Z
The Missing Piece 2019-10-27T05:50:00.824Z
Happy Petrov Day! 2019-09-27T02:10:00.739Z
On Becoming Clueless 2019-09-24T04:20:00.672Z
Type-safeness in Shell 2019-05-12T11:30:00.680Z
Hull: An alternative to shell that I'll never have time to implement 2019-04-28T07:40:00.528Z
On the Nature of Programming Languages 2019-04-22T10:50:00.862Z
The Politics of Age (the Young vs. the Old) 2019-03-24T06:40:04.359Z
Muqaata'a by Fahad Himsi (I.) 2019-03-10T15:10:00.962Z
Programmatic Code Generation: Composability 2019-03-02T22:50:06.865Z
Lydian song 2019-02-25T20:50:01.088Z
Tiles: Report on Programmatic Code Generation 2019-02-22T00:10:04.593Z
Graceful Shutdown 2019-02-16T11:30:00.927Z
Structured Concurrency Cross-language Forum 2019-02-10T09:20:00.779Z
Confessions of an Abstraction Hater 2019-01-27T05:50:01.066Z
Announcement: A talk about structured concurrency at FOSDEM 2018-12-30T10:10:00.836Z
State Machines and the Strange Case of Mutating API 2018-12-24T05:50:00.599Z
Equivalence of State Machines and Coroutines 2018-12-18T04:40:00.750Z
On Rigorous Error Handling 2018-11-17T09:20:00.753Z
Two Approaches to Structured Concurrency 2018-10-31T16:20:01.467Z
Unikernels: No Longer an Academic Exercise 2018-10-23T11:40:00.926Z
Update on Structured Concurrency 2018-10-19T11:10:01.179Z
Coordination Problems in Evolution: The Rise of Eukaryotes 2018-10-15T06:18:47.576Z
Coordination Problems in Evolution: Eigen's Paradox 2018-10-12T12:40:10.675Z
One-person Universe 2018-10-09T20:10:00.997Z
Anti-social Punishment 2018-09-27T07:08:56.362Z
Inadequate Equilibria vs. Governance of the Commons 2018-05-25T13:17:21.981Z
Soviet-era Jokes, Common Knowledge, Irony 2018-05-12T10:52:31.293Z
Research: Rescuers during the Holocaust 2018-04-30T06:15:40.659Z


Comment by sustrik on Swiss Political System: More than You ever Wanted to Know (II.) · 2020-08-19T06:08:53.264Z · LW · GW

More laundry stories.

Comment by sustrik on Swiss Political System: More than You ever Wanted to Know (III.) · 2020-08-12T16:27:04.130Z · LW · GW

Thanks! Fixed. (I think the party is actually called "FDP.The Liberals" without a space.)

As for the video, it's kind of funny. She's currently the president, he's the minister of home affairs.

Comment by sustrik on Swiss Political System: More than You ever Wanted to Know (III.) · 2020-08-12T01:39:06.443Z · LW · GW


If FDP, CVP and SP each got two seats and SVP one seat - an arrangement that would later become known as Magic Formula - ...

Comment by sustrik on Swiss Political System: More than You ever Wanted to Know (II.) · 2020-07-26T06:18:32.272Z · LW · GW

But that would only push the upper limit on efficient governance downwards, no? So the limit would not be 100 people, but rather 30. Still, the question we are discussing is whether there's a limit somewhere between 8 million and 40 million, which is like five orders of magnitude difference.

Comment by sustrik on Swiss Political System: More than You ever Wanted to Know (II.) · 2020-07-26T06:13:38.302Z · LW · GW

As far as I know, most people vote by mail. There have been some back and forth with respect to the online voting. The rules probably differ between the cantons.

Comment by sustrik on Swiss Political System: More than You ever Wanted to Know (II.) · 2020-07-26T06:11:04.529Z · LW · GW

Portion of the budget paid by specific level of government. For example, if 100% of the "foreign relations" budget is paid by federal government, it means that cantonal and municipal levels pay no expenses related to foreign relations.

Comment by sustrik on Swiss Political System: More than You ever Wanted to Know (II.) · 2020-07-25T07:26:28.363Z · LW · GW

The way I have seen this idea stated in the past (e.g. quadratic cost of all-to-all communication) was that the organization lacing a hierarchical structure would fall apart at quite a small size, maybe somewhere around ~100 people.

If one wants to use it to explain the different outcomes between Switzerland and California, they have to explain why something would work for 8 million people (which is not at all a negligible number) and 40 million. What exactly happens at, say, 20 million boundary that breaks the system?

Comment by sustrik on Swiss Political System: More than You ever Wanted to Know (II.) · 2020-07-25T05:16:20.713Z · LW · GW

The owner of the block may have been willing to change the house rules if most of the inhabitants asked for it. Our block, for example, is owned by a bank and run by a company dedicated house-managing company. The company seems to be rather flexible and willing to resolve issues. That's another thing that I found unexpected in Switzerland: If something doesn't work, be it a person's behavior or an administrative problem, do complain (locals certainly do) and it will eventually get fixed. It's certainly not what I've learned at home, namely, that complaining if futile.

Comment by sustrik on Swiss Political System: More than You ever Wanted to Know (I.) · 2020-07-21T17:22:45.538Z · LW · GW

Legislative referendum happens if 50,000 signatures are collected within 100 days.

As for polarization, I want to address that in part III., but the gist of it is that opposition can almost block the normal political process by initiating referenda over and over again.

The governing parties can maybe live with it for some time but eventually it leads to a crisis. And once the crisis hits the solution is usually to give the opposition a seat in the government. But keep in mind that this is a really slow process, measured in decades.

Comment by sustrik on Swiss Political System: More than You ever Wanted to Know (I.) · 2020-07-20T15:35:08.432Z · LW · GW

The thing about the cost is that it's already paid. Voting happens four times a year in any case and adding one more initiative doesn't change much. There's certainly a cost associated with government and parliament processing the initiative, but again, that's what they are expected to do, it can't be really thought of as an extra cost.

Comment by sustrik on Swiss Political System: More than You ever Wanted to Know (I.) · 2020-07-20T03:31:26.855Z · LW · GW

fixed. thanks!

Comment by sustrik on Swiss Political System: More than You ever Wanted to Know (I.) · 2020-07-19T19:19:20.353Z · LW · GW

Here "approved" means that official proposal was accepted. "Rejected" means that it was canceled. I.e., there will be no Rosegarten tunnel.

Comment by sustrik on Swiss Political System: More than You ever Wanted to Know (I.) · 2020-07-19T11:58:13.395Z · LW · GW

Yes, it's a leftover from the last year. Changed to 37.

Comment by sustrik on Swiss Political System: More than You ever Wanted to Know (I.) · 2020-07-19T07:36:08.442Z · LW · GW

In this particular case the exact implementation of UBI was left to the government. Here's how the initiative proposed to change the constitution:

Art. 110a (new) Unconditional basic income:

  1. The Confederation ensures the introduction of an unconditional basic income.
  2. Basic income is intended to enable the entire population to have a decent existence and to participate in public life.
  3. The law regulates in particular the financing and the amount of the basic income.
Comment by sustrik on Institutional Senescence · 2020-07-01T12:30:41.688Z · LW · GW

Yes, it's a toy model. The idea is that equilibrium is only defined with a respect to the game being played. In this case the game is the set of rules (both formal and informal) used in the institution. If institution dies there are no rules. When a new one is crated a new set of rules is established, with different equilibria.

But whether the new rules will be better than the old ones, there's no guarantee. The protesters in arab spring in Syria hoped for better institutions, but they've got civil war instead. The crucial bit seems to be that it's controlled death. What exactly that means though is unclear.

Comment by sustrik on Institutional Senescence · 2020-06-28T06:11:47.728Z · LW · GW

IIRC from the book, the debt forgiveness in the ancient middle east was mostly done on ad hoc basis (i.e. semi-randomly). Once the king felt that the things are getting out of control he declared all the debt obligations void.

Comment by sustrik on Anti-social Punishment · 2019-12-12T06:09:48.290Z · LW · GW

Author here.

In the hindsight, I still feel that the phenomenon is interesting and potentially important topic to look into. I am not aware of any attempt to replicate or dive deeper though.

As for my attempt to explain the psychology underlying the phenomenon I am not entirely happy with it. It's based only on introspection and lacks sound game-theoretic backing.

By the way, there's one interesting explanation I've read somewhere in the meantime (unfortunately, I don't remember the source):

Cooperation may incur different costs on different participants. If you are well-off, putting $100 into a common pool is not a terribly important matter. If others fail to cooperate all you can lose is $100. If you just barely getting along, putting $100 into a common pool may threaten you in a serious way. Therefore, rich will be more likely to cooperate than poor. Now, if the thing is framed in moral terms (those cooperating are "good", those not cooperating are "bad") the whole thing may feel like a scam providing the rich a way to buy moral superiority. As a poor person you may thus resort to anti-social punishment as a way to punish the scam.

Comment by sustrik on Inadequate Equilibria vs. Governance of the Commons · 2019-12-11T14:02:08.382Z · LW · GW

Author here.

I still believe this article is a important addition to the discussion of inadequate equilibria. While Scott Alexander's Moloch post and Eliezer Yudkowsky's book are great for introduction and discussion of the topic, both of them fail, in my opinion, to convey the sheer complexity of the problem as it occurs in the real world. That, I think, results in readers thinking about the issue in simple malthusian or naive game-theoretic terms and eventually despairing about inescapability of suboptimal Nash equilibria.

What I try to present is a world that is much more complex but also much less hopeless. Everything is an intricate mess of games played on different levels and interacting in complex and unpredictable ways. What, at the first glance, looks like a simple tragedy-of-the-commons problem is in fact a complex dynamic system with many inputs and many intertwined interests. To solve it, one may just have to step back a bit and consider other forces and mechanisms at play.

One idea that is expressed in the article and that I often come back to is (my wording, but the idea is very much implicitly present in Ostrom's book):

All in all, it seems that organically grown institutions are a lot like Hayek's free markets. They are information-processing machines. They aggregate countless details, too small and numerous for any central planner to take into account, and generate a set of efficient governance rules.

Another one that still feels important in the hindsight is the attaching of a price tag to a coordination failure ("this can be solved for $1M") which turns the semi-mystical work of Moloch into a boring old infrastructure project, very much like building a dam. This may have implications for Effective Altruism. Solving a coordination failure may often be the most efficient way to spend money in a specific area.

Comment by sustrik on The Missing Piece · 2019-10-28T05:24:10.376Z · LW · GW

Let me restate the question in a different way:

If we have just the compiler source code, we are missing some information (easily proven by showing that there's infinite number of such Xs where X(S)=X, whereas only one is "correct").

To find out what that information may be let's consider the case where both the source code of the compiler and the compiler binary are available, but there's no programmer that understands the language. Are we still missing said piece of information?

On one hand, we can assume that yes, the information in question is still missing. In that case it must be something that is in the head of the programmer, some kind of "interpretation" of the language. But if that is so, how does that apply to the biological case? What's the "interpretation" of DNA and whose head it resides in?

On the other hand, we can assume that no, with the compiler binary at hand there's no information missing. Therefore, there must be something in the binary that's not present in the source code. But given that the binary is just a transformation of the source code, what exactly that may be? Is it some kind of "interpretation" of the language, but encoded as machine code?

An unrelated though: Why is the Swiss/CAR case different from the other two? If one looks at how the reproduction is carried out in living organisms (not the high school biology version, but the real thing) then it is, given its complexity and distributed nature, much more similar to the working of a society than to a compiler. Maybe, after all, the biological and sociological cases are similar, and the compilers have nothing to do with the other two?

Comment by sustrik on Recent updates to (2017–2019) · 2019-04-29T05:48:50.122Z · LW · GW

"On the Existence of Powerful Natural Languages": Have you read Umberto Eco's "The Search for the Perfect Language"? It's a pretty good history of the past efforts to create powerful artificial languages, from Raymon Lull to John Wilkins etc.

Comment by sustrik on Hull: An alternative to shell that I'll never have time to implement · 2019-04-28T20:07:28.585Z · LW · GW

Thank's for the reference!

Comment by sustrik on On the Nature of Programming Languages · 2019-04-23T05:02:14.735Z · LW · GW

AFAIU, your argument is that a super-human intelligence can look at the program as a whole, be aware that both hind legs need to be the same length and can modify the code at both places to satisfy the constraint.

While imaginable, in the real world I don't see this happening except for toy examples (say, an academic exercise of writing a toy sorting algorithm). Actual software projects are big and modified by many actors, each with little understanding of the whole. Natural selection is performed by a, from human point of view, completely mindless entity. Same for genetic algorithms and, possibly, ML.

The point I was trying to make that in such a piecemal, uninformed development, some patters may emerge that are, in a way, independent of the type of the development process (human-driven, evolution, etc.)

Comment by sustrik on The Politics of Age (the Young vs. the Old) · 2019-03-24T20:33:10.570Z · LW · GW

A skin-in-the-game vote multiplier based on age

There are two opposing ways to think about it.

You can either, as you do, say that your skin-in-the-game is proportional to the amount of time you have in front of you. From that perspective it seems fair that children should have biggest say in shaping long-term policies.

Or you can say that your skin-in-the-game factor is proprotional to how much you've already invested in the status quo. If you've spent 50 years working towards a goal it seems unfair that a 16-year old know-nothing should be able, on a whim, to throw all of that away.

Comment by sustrik on What makes people intellectually active? · 2018-12-30T20:06:33.064Z · LW · GW

Funny that I had exactly the same thought when writing the comment above: Isn't that just OCD? But if you look at concrete examples, it doesn't feel like that. Einstein? Incapable of accepting easy solutions? Yes. OCD? Probably not. Even van Gogh, despite the host of psychological problems, probably haven't had OCD.

Comment by sustrik on What makes people intellectually active? · 2018-12-30T08:50:15.278Z · LW · GW

I think it has to do with intellectual honesty. There's a lot of highly intelligent people who are willing to accept the status quo, even if they are aware that it's broken, and just move on with their life. Then there are some people who are just psychologically incapable of such "ignore it and move on" attitude. Interestingly, this applies across broad spectrum of disciplines.

Science: A former kind of person does all the steps from a scientific method textbook and move on with their research. The latter kind of person won't be able to avoid thinking about why the method is as it is, whether its rationale matches their experiment, whether there are special circumstances that make the method inadequate and so on.

Engineering: The former type of person would just take existing tools and practices, glue them together and get a viable product. The latter kind of person will agonize over corner cases, whether there's a fundamentally different way of doing the same thing, whether the design is internally consistent and so on.

Arts: The former type of person is a mannerist. They use the existing expressive repertoire of their time and use it to create viable art. The latter kind of person cannot avoid seeing the problems with the current style, trying different ways of addressing them, getting back to basics and so on. Think van Gogh, for example.

Comment by sustrik on Coordination Problems in Evolution: The Rise of Eukaryotes · 2018-12-30T06:39:55.052Z · LW · GW

Does that matter that much? The life had to originate somewhere and it, presumably, must have faced the same coordination problems along the way.

Comment by sustrik on Coordination Problems in Evolution: Eigen's Paradox · 2018-12-30T06:37:48.093Z · LW · GW

Yes, I own the book. However, I am not a biologist, so writing about the topic is hard for me. By focusing fully on the original book I have a reliable lead. If I had to compile from multiple sources, it would be much easier for me to go astray.

Anyway, if you'd like to write about the new developments, I would love to link that from this article.

Comment by sustrik on Spaghetti Towers · 2018-12-22T06:12:07.866Z · LW · GW

“Can you just straighten out the yellow one without touching any of the others? Thanks.”

Comment by sustrik on Spaghetti Towers · 2018-12-22T06:07:05.614Z · LW · GW

Some more examples here:

Comment by sustrik on Coordination Problems in Evolution: Eigen's Paradox · 2018-11-09T06:40:09.025Z · LW · GW

Good point. I shall edit the article to make that clear.

Comment by sustrik on Coordination Problems in Evolution: The Rise of Eukaryotes · 2018-11-02T15:34:39.090Z · LW · GW

There's an eerie similarity between an old software project and a inner working of a living organism. You see all these pieces that were serving some purpose in the past, then they were abandoned and repurposed, the changes are layered one on top of another without removing the vestiges of the old design first and so on.

I've written a small essay on the topic once:

Comment by sustrik on Anti-social Punishment · 2018-10-23T05:18:11.700Z · LW · GW

Fair point!

Comment by sustrik on Update on Structured Concurrency · 2018-10-22T11:56:32.343Z · LW · GW

It's just like replacing goto with while/for/if back in 60's. Not a big deal technically. Big deal in the terms of abstraction. Also, don't think about about OS threads. Every time there's a state machine somewhere it's just a green thread in disguise.

Comment by sustrik on Anti-social Punishment · 2018-10-19T00:40:22.051Z · LW · GW

Nice idea. Maybe all the tokens should start in the pool and the players should have an option to withdraw them. I guess that would make people feel more explicitly "anti-social" if they did so.

Comment by sustrik on [deleted post] 2018-10-16T20:27:50.632Z

Thanks for fixing that!

Comment by sustrik on [deleted post] 2018-10-16T05:59:55.021Z

I had reposting from my site turned on recently. But this article haven't made it through (maybe because it contained tables?) So I've posted it by hand. Then the reposting pipeline caught up and posted it again. I would delete one of the two but there seems to be no delete button.

Comment by sustrik on Coordination Problems in Evolution: The Rise of Eukaryotes · 2018-10-15T09:34:28.195Z · LW · GW

Which one specifically? I can look up the references for you.

Comment by sustrik on Anti-social Punishment · 2018-10-04T14:44:11.210Z · LW · GW

Sorry, I've replied to a wrong thread.

Comment by sustrik on Anti-social Punishment · 2018-10-04T05:14:10.935Z · LW · GW

I am based in Zurich, won't be able to come next week :/ But you are right, this topic could get toxic if discussed among strangers.

Comment by sustrik on Anti-social Punishment · 2018-10-04T05:12:57.766Z · LW · GW

I think the main point in that regard is that the study doesn't distinguish between punishing cooperators because they are cooperators and punishing cooperators as a proxy for punishing punishers.

I, as well as some commenters on this thread, feel that the former phenomenon may exist, but yeah, it's based on feelings and folk wisdom. It may also well be that if given identity of punishers the players would punish punishers and leave non-punishing cooperators alone.

Comment by sustrik on Anti-social Punishment · 2018-10-03T23:19:21.630Z · LW · GW

The original study has something to say about ingroups/outgroups. It's not exactly the same thing as the one we are discussing here but still:

Punishment may be also related to in-group–out-group distinctions (37) because people might retaliate if punished by an out-group member (38). Societies also differ in the extent to which their social structures are governed by in-group–out-group distinctions. For instance, according to some cross-cultural psychologists (15, 39) in “collectivist” societies many interactions are confined to close-knit social networks, whereas in “individualistic” societies interactions are more permeable across social groups. Because in our experiment all participants were strangers to one another, people in collectivist societies might be more inclined than people in individualistic societies to perceive other participants as out-group members. Therefore, antisocial punishment might be stronger in collectivist than in individualistic societies. Our evidence is consistent with this possibility because in regressions similar to those of Table 2 antisocial punishment is highly significantly correlated with a widely used societal level measure of individualism-collectivism (15) (table S10).

Comment by sustrik on Anti-social Punishment · 2018-10-03T05:26:08.051Z · LW · GW

You are living in Soviet Union. Your father was sent to gulag, your mother was fired from her job in academia and sent to plow the tselina. You are being harrassed by the secret police. Then you meet a stachanovite who fulfilled the government plan to 200%. That guy is clearly a cooperator, producing more stuff you could benefit from, but you suddenly feel an irresistible urge to punch him in the nose.

I don't fully understand the mechanism on the theoretical level myself, but it seems to have something to do with the assumptions about authority. If you assume that authority is naturally malevolent you are going to try to oppose it. "This is not my game. This is a game set up by the authorities. By those scientist guys. What can I possibly do to disrupt it?" Punishing cooperators seems to be an obvious way to do that.

Possibly related phenomena:

  • Lizardmen syndrome.
  • Boaty McBoatface syndrome.
  • Some kids being disruptive in school, just for disruption's sake.
Comment by sustrik on Anti-social Punishment · 2018-10-03T04:46:58.193Z · LW · GW

I've seen you are planning a meetup in Bratislava. Maybe it would be worth discussing the topic. Maybe people would come up with possible motivations we haven't even thought of.

Comment by sustrik on Anti-social Punishment · 2018-10-03T04:22:19.620Z · LW · GW

If there are any readers from Middle East or Greece I would also appreciate their thoughts on the phenomenon. It may be that the mechanism differs between regions.

Comment by sustrik on Anti-social Punishment · 2018-10-02T06:48:53.998Z · LW · GW

Not a native speaker. I wanted it to be offensive but not to the extent where you would have to kill the offender and whole his family to restore the honor. Changed to "moron".

Comment by sustrik on Leto among the Machines · 2018-10-01T06:26:40.282Z · LW · GW

I like the framing of the problem here: If a bureaucrat (or lawyer) acts on fully specified set of rules and exercises no personal judgement then they can be replaced by a machine. If they don't want to be replaced by a machine they should be able to prove that their personal judgement is indispensable.

That changes incentives for bureaucrats in quite a dramatic fashion.

Comment by sustrik on Anti-social Punishment · 2018-09-30T05:50:43.344Z · LW · GW

So we have two different explanations here:

You are saying that the participants considered the experiment to be a private pro-social activity and as such, one opposed to the state. By punishing cooperators they were signalling their loyalty to the state.

I am saying that participants considered the experiment to be a state-run enterprise and the pro-social punishment to mean complicity with the (unfair) state. By punishing cooperators they were trying to disable state's coercive mechanisms.

Those are almost exactly opposite explanations. I wonder if me can think of an experiment that would distinguish between the two?

I guess it would require to somehow trick the subjects into believing that they can form a coalition against the researchers. A kind of anti-Milgram experiment.

Comment by sustrik on Anti-social Punishment · 2018-09-28T12:28:48.893Z · LW · GW

If you mean in game theory, there's the " common knowledge" concept.

If you mean in sociology, there was a ton of research done on the "social capital" some of which you would probably consider to be about the network effects.

Comment by sustrik on Anti-social Punishment · 2018-09-28T06:34:05.636Z · LW · GW

Interesting point about the attitude to games. However, I guess the boundary between a game and reality may be fuzzy. People trading on stock exchange may treat it as a game. People planning a war may treat it as a game.

You may be right about the norms of social norms though. If you look how the authors measured civic cooperation it looks more like "trust in the state" metric. From the paper: "social norms are norms of civic cooperation as they are expressed in people’s attitudes to tax evasion, abuse of the welfare state, or dodging fares on public transport".

Comment by sustrik on Anti-social Punishment · 2018-09-27T20:15:45.001Z · LW · GW

Would that reasoning apply to all societies around the world, including those in the West? If it does, it's unlikely to explain the differences between the societies.