Comment by TGGP4 on Less Wrong: Progress Report · 2009-04-26T06:52:43.000Z · LW · GW

I prefer OB and don't read LW as much, but that's partly because there are other things competing for my time and you'd have to sift through a lot of mediocre stuff at LW to find the same sort of quality. I expressed my disagreement with Eliezer in his post on gardens, which I'd rather not reiterate here as others can read it there. Personally, I don't do any voting at all.

Comment by TGGP4 on Another Call to End Aid to Africa · 2009-04-06T05:24:34.000Z · LW · GW

"Pure capitalism is so cruel at times that it cycles rebellion" "Deprivation theory is wrong, social construction is right. “Objective” conditions don’t predict the rise of movements, but problem construction." Fabio Rojas - Most Important Social Movement Findings

North Korea does not permit people to engage in "problem construction", so the objective conditions of deprivation do not pose as much risk of rebellion.

Comment by TGGP4 on The Pascal's Wager Fallacy Fallacy · 2009-03-20T04:36:42.000Z · LW · GW

Yvain, people seem to have a hedonic set point. If you currently prefer life to non-life, I highly doubt you would not if you lived in Saudi Arabia or Burma.

Comment by TGGP4 on Formative Youth · 2009-02-25T02:31:58.000Z · LW · GW

Eliezer, what aspects of you do you think would have been different if you had consumed only non-fiction as a child?

I somewhat recently decided to only read non-fictional books. One of the reasons I gave for that in making that decision was the desire to seek the truth more fully and a distrust of my ability to discount the biases of fiction, but now I think the more operative reason was that there was a large number of non-fictional books I wanted to have read (distinct from wanting to read) and was dissatisfied with my throughput while fiction was able to compete.

Comment by TGGP4 on Pretending to be Wise · 2009-02-20T00:51:52.000Z · LW · GW

Yvain, the most murderous dictator the world had ever seen and the biggest imperialist power of the day were on the side of the Allies and if our country had gone to war with his (and been as succesful) I am sure you would be talking about how lopsided the scales were in the other direction, having had it drummed into you through school and popular culture.

Comment by TGGP4 on Pretending to be Wise · 2009-02-19T23:34:15.000Z · LW · GW

I don't think the teacher being punched by a parent is a good analogy. Here are two possible other scenarios that differ from the original in a small way:

  1. The teacher sees one student punch another student.
  2. Two parents are fighting (this does happen). The teacher does not know who started it.

Regarding judges, we consider it necessary for them to pass judgment but they can gain greater respect sometimes by practicing "judicial minimalism", or saying as little as possible while resolving the specific dispute.

Comment by TGGP4 on Pretending to be Wise · 2009-02-19T23:00:36.000Z · LW · GW

"The hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who in time of crisis remain neutral." -- Dante Alighieri, famous hell expert Wrong.

Comment by TGGP4 on Good Idealistic Books are Rare · 2009-02-18T03:46:52.000Z · LW · GW

The "good" part does all the work. 90% of everything is crap, and that's if you're an optimist.

Comment by TGGP4 on An African Folktale · 2009-02-17T02:41:46.000Z · LW · GW

This seemed terribly appropriate.

A reader at 2Blowhards: Depiction of trickster gods in West Africa seems a bit positive, at worst morally neutral. In Northern Europe, Loki was a clear-cut villain. Could that contrast come from selection-induced personality differences?

Greg Cochran: And yet Bugs Bunny is our hero. I think this line of analysis is about as sound and solid as Citibank.

Comment by TGGP4 on Cynical About Cynicism · 2009-02-17T02:39:11.000Z · LW · GW

I had been thinking of Hanson's above-mentioned metacynicism recently when he discussed the signalling that he engaged in. I don't actually have as much trust for people that claim to be Guardians of the Truth as for those who admit to having other motives in which truth may be incidental. I'm more willing to listen to Hopefully Anonymous even as he proclaims that he engages in mythmaking for his own advantage, and one of the things I liked about Der Ego was Stirner proclaiming in the opening that he owes no more duty to Truth than Truth does to him, and elsewhere that you are not reading his book for your own betterment (presumably through enlightenment) but his. I am now reminded of Barack Obama's ingratiating acknowledgment of the differing views of others as a sort of pre-emptive neutralizer of opposing arguments that didn't actually grapple with them head on. I could be granting too much credibility to people who have lowered my guard by being honest about their lack of commitment to honesty.

Comment by TGGP4 on ...And Say No More Of It · 2009-02-10T03:33:04.000Z · LW · GW

I should write about this later. I highly encourage you to. I find it an interesting topic without enough attention (with economic-type broad analysis rather than direct participation not part of public knowledge).

Comment by TGGP4 on (Moral) Truth in Fiction? · 2009-02-10T03:19:35.000Z · LW · GW

Why should we believe there are "moral truths"? And why are the rules so different with regard to physics? What other topics have a standard more like morality than physics?

I agree with Yvain. The mirror neuron argument was just shoddy. After acknowledging that the science didn't necessarily support your point about them, you then said that doesn't matter. If the truth of an argument is irrelevant, why bring it up at all? Doesn't such an argument falling back on "deeper truth" have the same weaknesses as the religious/mystical in their attempts to avoid falsification?

This is an idea that I think is plausible, although it might be false: Uncle Tom's Cabin was more an epiphenomenon in the demise of slavery than a cause. It is an easy focal point to think of, and so we associate the end of slavery with it. If the book had failed (perhaps through having a lousy publisher or distribution) we would instead point to something else whose fame has been displaced in our own history by Stowe's novel.

Comment by TGGP4 on The Thing That I Protect · 2009-02-08T21:06:56.000Z · LW · GW

Wondering, I like rationality posts.

Comment by TGGP4 on The Thing That I Protect · 2009-02-08T06:03:09.000Z · LW · GW

I'm happy to hear that Eliezer will go back to posting on rationality.

Comment by TGGP4 on Value is Fragile · 2009-01-30T04:32:22.000Z · LW · GW

Maybe it's the types I of haunts I've been frequenting lately, but the elimination of all conscious life in the universe doesn't strike me as too terrible at the moment (provided it doesn't shorten my own lifespan).

Comment by TGGP4 on 31 Laws of Fun · 2009-01-27T05:53:04.000Z · LW · GW

Dagon, as I explained in Interpersonal Entanglement, it's okay except when it isn't.

Comment by TGGP4 on Interpersonal Entanglement · 2009-01-21T02:58:27.000Z · LW · GW

My comment got flagged as spam. I'm removing the links now but would appreciate it if this comment was removed when the original gets approved.

I've never understood the fascination with cats, which is perhaps because I'm allergic to them. For misanthropic reasons, I suspect I'd prefer replacing you all with some sort of non-sentient beings (though perhaps not when I'm at my most misanthropic).

He said, "Well, then I'd just modify my brain not to get bored -" And I said: "AAAAIIIIIIEEEEEEEEE" Why? You've just given a frightened response rather than an argument.

well, call me a sentimental Luddite You're a sentimental Luddite.

sterile simplicity "Sterile" is often a good thing and means safe/clean/pure. What is bad about sterile simplicity?

That strikes me as kind of sad. It strikes me as an improvement. People should separate if they are happier that way. Let's hear it for secession!

they aren't just incompetent Is that something you actually believe or an idea you want to discourage for reasons other than truth? I'll be the first to admit having no competence whatsoever.

doesn't strike me as solving the problem so much as running away from it What exactly is the difference? That one sets off alarm lights in your brain while the other lets you think the ship of Theseus still retains its identity?

I'm willing to bet that a few psychological nudges Also known as "modifying your brain". It seems its okay when brains are modified for ends you approve of but not for those of others. Like how eating certain calories "don't count" among people who are supposed to be on a diet.

For myself, I would like humankind to stay together and not yet splinter into separate shards of diversity I suspect you've fallen under the spell of The People's Romance.

Aurini: There is nothing objectively desirable or undesirable. I suspect it would disgust me (I've not bothered to watch the video) but I have a hair-trigger disgust reflex.

Comment by TGGP4 on Justified Expectation of Pleasant Surprises · 2009-01-16T03:37:22.000Z · LW · GW

I haven't played computer games in a while, but I suspect the game designers know what they're doing better than Eliezer. When he creates a game that people want to play, I'll reconsider.

I would (or should I say "do") want to know if life is worth living, so I can cut my losses in advance.

I don't like surprises. That's part of why I like chain restaurants. That's an area where I am in sync with most people, as evidenced by their success and proliferation.

Comment by TGGP4 on Building Weirdtopia · 2009-01-14T05:18:50.000Z · LW · GW

Zubon, from what I've read of Austrians they laugh at the claim (I think Gunnar Myrdal made it) that you can solve the knowledge/calculation problem with such a computer as a misunderstanding of the problem.

Yvain, you are groping toward one of the oldest forms of democracy.

Comment by TGGP4 on Continuous Improvement · 2009-01-12T00:49:49.000Z · LW · GW

Let's say I picked the happiest moment in my life (I honestly don't know what that is, but we can ignore that for now). After the Singularity when we can do things currently considered impossible, could I for all practical purposes rewind time and experience that moment again as if it had never happened to shift my hedonic set point?

Comment by TGGP4 on Serious Stories · 2009-01-09T01:55:54.000Z · LW · GW

Is that... what we want?

To just wipe away the last tear, and be done? For the last time, yes! Wake up from the Dragon-Tyrant's spell!

You could cut out just the intolerable parts of pain? It is all tolerable. Or intolerable. You'd better define your terms.

Keep the sort of pain that tells you not to stick your finger in the fire Just regenerate the finger.

grinds down and destroys a mind Does pain actually do that? Have we done experiments showing that's the case?

Or configure minds to be harder to damage One of Judith Harris' points is that minds are designed to be resilient, which is why child abuse doesn't have the effect many assume it does.

No child sexual abuse that turns out more abusers. Are you sure you've got the causation right there? Couldn't it be that abusive people are likely to be related to other abusive people?

or AIDS This is a less serious criticism of Eliezer than the others, but it's funny how often people go on about this rather easily preventable disease that kills a lot fewer people than diseases that get much less attention (various tropical diseases in Africa, a huge list of cancers in the U.S). Other diseases need better marketing and market segmentation research.

Is there a point where Romeo and Juliet just seems less and less relevant, more and more a relic of some distant forgotten world Eliminating out-group hatred alone would do that.

Comment by TGGP4 on Emotional Involvement · 2009-01-07T04:21:03.000Z · LW · GW

Asking what happens often, and binding happy emotions to that, so as to increase happiness - or asking what seems easy, and binding happy emotions to that - making isolated video games artificially more emotionally involving, for example -

At that point, it seems to me, you've pretty much given up on eudaimonia and moved to maximizing happiness; you might as well replace brains with pleasure centers, and civilizations with hedonium plasma. Well, why not? What makes changing the external stimulus more worthwhile than the subjective experience of it? It can't be that you hold the emotions evolution gave us as sacred or you wouldn't want to eliminate racial prejudice.

Comment by TGGP4 on Changing Emotions · 2009-01-05T17:51:01.000Z · LW · GW

However, I would hope you realize the danger of assuming all gendered traits are "hard wired" into the brain; amongst other problems, that can support the idea that the much greater incidence of men committing acts of violence is "natural male aggression" that we can't ever eliminate. Leaving aside the question of whether or not that belief is accurate, if it hypothetically was would you still discourage someone from voicing it for reasons other than truth?

Comment by TGGP4 on The Uses of Fun (Theory) · 2009-01-03T17:03:21.000Z · LW · GW

The society of Brave New World actually seemed like quite an improvement to me.

Comment by TGGP4 on Dunbar's Function · 2008-12-31T03:18:26.000Z · LW · GW

Tabarrok casts some doubt on the negative externality of wealthy peers:

I would say the revealed preference of migration supports him.

Comment by TGGP4 on Nonperson Predicates · 2008-12-29T03:25:30.000Z · LW · GW

I recall in one of the Discworld novels the smallest unit of time is defined as the period in which the universe is destroyed and then recreated. If that were continually happening (perhaps even in a massively parallel manner)? What difference does that make? Building on some of Eliezer's earlier writing on zombies and quantum clones, I say none at all. Just as the simulated person in a human's dream is irrelevant once forgotten. It's possible that I myself am a simulation and in that case I don't want my torture to be simulated (at least in this instance, I have no problem constructing another simulation/clone of me that gets tortured), but I can't retroactively go back and prevent my simulator from creating me in order to torture me.

I okayed mothers committing full-blown infanticide here.

ShardPhoenix, you may be interested in this book [shameless plug]

Comment by TGGP4 on Nonsentient Optimizers · 2008-12-29T03:02:01.000Z · LW · GW

I second nominull. I don't recall Eliezer saying much about the moral-status of (non-human) animals, though it could be that I've just forgotten.

Comment by TGGP4 on Can't Unbirth a Child · 2008-12-29T01:52:29.000Z · LW · GW

Democracy is a dumb idea. I vote for aristocracy/apartheid. Considering the disaster of the former Rhodesia, currently Zimbabwe, and the growing similarities in South Africa, the actual historical apartheid is starting to look pretty good. So I agree with Tim M, except I'm not a secular humanist.

Comment by TGGP4 on Sensual Experience · 2008-12-23T22:43:06.000Z · LW · GW

Elkins, the authors make a similar point in the book. I think you might like it.

Comment by TGGP4 on Sensual Experience · 2008-12-23T05:49:01.000Z · LW · GW

frelkins, have you read "Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence"? I have a big review with perhaps too much summary here. I'm certainly not an authority, so I encourage you to read it yourself.

I'm not sure if my lack of similar experiences when programming is due to my low programming talent or is linked to my poor sense of taste and smell. Though I suppose there could be a common cause for all of them.

Comment by TGGP4 on Rationality Quotes 20 · 2008-12-23T04:17:58.000Z · LW · GW

General Kurt's link goes to Hanlon.

Comment by TGGP4 on Complex Novelty · 2008-12-20T19:30:28.000Z · LW · GW

What's more internal than wireheading?

Comment by TGGP4 on Prolegomena to a Theory of Fun · 2008-12-19T03:10:37.000Z · LW · GW

komponisto, we can leave aside the question of whether moral progress is possible or actual and focus on why we should expect it to be associated with technological progress. We can easily see that in the middle ages people were trying to create tougher armor and more powerful weaponry. Ethically, they seem to strive to be more obedient Christians. That includes setting as a goal things that many of us today consider IMMORAL. Rather than hoping for progress along that axis, many instead thought that mankind was Fallen from an earlier golden age and if anything sought to turn the clock back (that is how the early Protestants and Puritans viewed themselves). It was never the case that anybody simply made moral discoveries that were simply proven to all who would listen, as in Eliezer's silly example of At'gra'len'ley. It was often the case that two sides considered each other immoral and one of them outcompeted the other militarily and shut up its propagandists. For what reason should we think it most likely that the victor actually was more moral?

Comment by TGGP4 on Prolegomena to a Theory of Fun · 2008-12-18T15:12:38.000Z · LW · GW

Were the people burning cats really trying to become non-cat-burners? Wasn't slavery viewed as divinely ordained for some time?

Regarding the Germans: winners write the history books. That is why the Soviet Union is not the anathema that Nazi Germany is to us today. If the Germans had won we would not consider them quite so evil. Technological advancement aids in winning wars.

Comment by TGGP4 on Prolegomena to a Theory of Fun · 2008-12-18T05:30:32.000Z · LW · GW

komponisto, as a non-cognitivist I don't find the notion of moral "progress" to be meaningful, and I'd like to hear your argument for why we should expect some sort of empirical correlation between it and, say, technological advancement (which gives the overwhelming power that in turn makes genocide possible).

Comment by TGGP4 on Prolegomena to a Theory of Fun · 2008-12-18T05:27:18.000Z · LW · GW

I'm an atheist who likes singing Song of Hope in church. I'd like to be a wirehead (or enter Nozick's experience machine). I don't know of any reason to delay becoming a superintelligence unless being a wirehead is the alternative.

The Indians were in large part killed by disease introduced by English fishermen. That's why Plymouth was relatively depopulated when the Pilgrims arrived and the Mound-Building Civilization collapsed without ever coming into contact with Europeans.

Comment by TGGP4 on What I Think, If Not Why · 2008-12-11T19:49:56.000Z · LW · GW

There is nothing oxymoronic about calling democracy "the tyranny of the majority". And George Washington himself was decisive in both the violent war of secession called a "revolution" that created a new Confederate government and the unlawful replacement of the Articles of Confederation with the Constitution, after which he personally crushed the Whiskey Rebellion of farmers resisting the national debt payments saddled upon them by this new government. Even MLK has been characterized as implicitly threatening more riots if his demands were not met (in that respect he followed Gandhi, who actually justified violence on the basis of nationalism though this is not as well remembered). Eliezer is mashing applause lights.

Comment by TGGP4 on The Weak Inside View · 2008-11-19T03:08:01.000Z · LW · GW

The Austrians say that economics can only tell us qualitative rather than quantitative things. That's part of why many people don't take them seriously.

Comment by TGGP4 on Ask OB: Leaving the Fold · 2008-11-09T23:09:58.000Z · LW · GW

Let us know how it turns out. I haven't admitted it to anyone in meatspace yet. Fortunately I'm not married and my family isn't extremely religious.

Comment by TGGP4 on Today's Inspirational Tale · 2008-11-05T01:15:07.000Z · LW · GW

"And you wonder why you don't have any political influence." I think the more obvious reason is small numbers.

Comment by TGGP4 on Ethics Notes · 2008-10-24T02:20:43.000Z · LW · GW

Since there is no chance of an atheist being elected to office There have been plenty in other countries. In our own there's Pete Stark.

Comment by TGGP4 on Inner Goodness · 2008-10-24T02:18:43.000Z · LW · GW

gaining one's happiness through the happiness of others You even find that idea in Stirner. Though it doesn't exclude the possibility of happiness through the misfortune of others as well.

Comment by TGGP4 on Prices or Bindings? · 2008-10-23T01:25:11.000Z · LW · GW

Googling Parfit and hitchhiker returns some fans of both Derek and Guide to the Galaxy, and a few academic papers behind a paywall. Is there a summary of his example online somewhere?

Comment by TGGP4 on Ethics Notes · 2008-10-23T01:11:14.000Z · LW · GW

Eliezer, I think you rather uncritically accept the standard narratives on the American war of independence and WW2 (among other things). There are plenty of cliche applause-lights (or the reverse) being thrown about.

Comment by TGGP4 on Which Parts Are "Me"? · 2008-10-23T00:27:54.000Z · LW · GW

I'll be the first to say I've never been "rebuilt", but I enjoyed GEB. I have next to nothing to protect and don't even fear death so much as dying.

Comment by TGGP4 on Protected From Myself · 2008-10-20T01:50:46.000Z · LW · GW

the threat of insanity, which we know to be sort of an occupational hazard among AI researchers What? That sounds like sci-fi/horror writing, I've never heard of it happening in real life.

Comment by TGGP4 on Traditional Capitalist Values · 2008-10-18T02:38:30.000Z · LW · GW

There was, once upon a time, an editorial in the Wall Street Journal calling Ford a "traitor to his class" because he offered more than the prevailing wages of the time. Sounds made up to me. A lot of stupid people think he did it so his workers could afford his cars. That's asinine. The marginal amount of money they'd send back to him directly would be negligible. The real reason was that he had a high turnover rate and it was costing him too much to keep training new employees. His retained more people after he raised wages.

Comment by TGGP4 on Dark Side Epistemology · 2008-10-18T01:32:19.000Z · LW · GW

Not all who wear robes are either Jedi or fakes What do you mean by "wear robes"? Could we move away from references to fictional stories?

Comment by TGGP4 on Why Does Power Corrupt? · 2008-10-14T01:41:05.000Z · LW · GW

Was Washington seriously offered the crown? Also, he's not as memorable a fiery revolutionary as Patrick Henry or Samuel Adams. Maybe one of them would have accepted it (I know, fundamental attribution error, yeah yeah yeah).

Comment by TGGP4 on The Ritual · 2008-10-13T02:28:32.000Z · LW · GW

? I guess sci-fi isn't really my bag. I was never that into the Jeffreysai sequence but I think this was the least worth reading. And I guess I'm now guilty of writing an insubstantial derisive comment in response to (subjectively speaking) insubstantial post, which I just complained about at my own blog.