Posts

Ideas ahead of their time 2019-04-03T22:15:20.673Z · score: 10 (8 votes)
Reality versus Human Expectations 2018-03-20T18:44:14.409Z · score: 1 (6 votes)

Comments

Comment by theist on A LessWrong Crypto Autopsy · 2019-06-28T21:20:33.403Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks for rubbing salt in the wound. (Only a tiny bit serious.)

Back when mining was possible on a standard desktop computer I mined a block in my first week, and received 50 bitcoins. A couple years later, I found that bitcoins were trading at the mind-blowing sum of $1 each, and cashed in. (In my pitifully weak defense, I was really short on money at the time.)

If I had done something sensible, like sold a few each time the price went up 10x, I'd have a pile of cash and probably some bitcoins left.

Weep for me, oh ye internets.

Comment by theist on Open Thread April 2019 · 2019-04-11T16:13:41.225Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

"Neural Networks for Modeling Source Code Edits" https://arxiv.org/abs/1904.02818

Seems like a fascinating line of inquiry, though possibly problematic from the perspective of unaligned AI self-improvement.

Comment by theist on Ideas ahead of their time · 2019-04-06T03:08:30.941Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Good point. I really could have done a better job of getting my point across.

Comment by theist on Ideas ahead of their time · 2019-04-04T21:26:34.219Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Ideas that might pan out are generally plausible now given the evidence available, even if they cannot be proved, whereas bogus, crank ideas generally ignore what we know to claim something contradictory.

I think this is an important point to recognize. If an idea agrees with observation but makes predictions that can't currently be tested, it should be given more consideration than an idea which contradicts existing observations.

Comment by theist on Ideas ahead of their time · 2019-04-04T20:07:03.046Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

To start with, the idea as it's expressed is wrong. The objects on the sky that we call planets are proper planets and not stars or moons.

I disagree, but perhaps I was not clear enough in my description of the idea. In particular I was not using the modern definitions of sun, star, moon, and planet. The ancient definition of "planet" was an object that wanders across the sky. Also, by "moon" I was trying to mean a body which shines by reflected light rather than producing light of its own like the sun does.

I do like your suggestion to look at mathematics for how to deal with statements whose truth is unknown.

Comment by theist on Ideas ahead of their time · 2019-04-04T18:11:45.420Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

That's an interesting point of view. It makes me wonder if there's a useful definition of consciousness along the same vein as the "negative entropy" definition of life (meaning something is alive if it reverses entropy in its local environment).

Comment by theist on What are the advantages and disadvantages of knowing your own IQ? · 2019-04-04T16:59:28.545Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

An advantage I have found of knowing my IQ is that I can consider the normal distribution of IQ scores and determine roughly how many people are smarter than I am in a given population (such as the city I live in, or the surrounding metropolitan area). In particular, it helps me to understand why I'm typically the smartest person in any particular group I participate in, but also reminds me that there are a large number of people smarter than I am within convenient travel distance, despite our social circles not obviously overlapping.

Comment by theist on Ideas ahead of their time · 2019-04-04T16:15:21.881Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The problem is that the visionary ideas ahead of their time are indistinguishable from the crank ones

Expressed very succinctly, thank you.

I suppose what I'm really wondering is whether there's some feature which can be perceived in the structure of the idea and its ramifications which indicate that it is on the right track, which would distinguish it from crank. Clearly there's nothing obvious or someone would have found it by now and made a bunch of correct predictions a long time ago. Still, it makes me wonder if there's something remaining to be found there.

Comment by theist on Ideas ahead of their time · 2019-04-04T16:07:40.409Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Even if someone HAD postulated that there existed a distance so great that the sun would look like a point, and that our stars might be suns to them, they wouldn't be "right" in any useful sense of the word. There are zero predictions nor behavior changes to make based on that hypothesis.

On the one hand, I agree that beliefs should guide our expectations and in general should be required to "pay rent" as in the post you reference. On the other hand, truth is truth, regardless of whether it can be perceived as such. I am reminded of https://www.readthesequences.com/Belief-In-The-Implied-Invisible , though as written it doesn't directly apply.

I don't like the outcome of "this is too far beyond our current capabilities so it is irrational to think about". Is there a place in rational thought for considering ideas that cannot presently be tested, but may point the way for future explorers who are better equipped?

Perhaps you've got the best conclusion given the constraints:

the big problem isn't finding more ideas, but in deciding which ones are worth giving up immediate resources to pursue sooner

Though I find that ever so slightly depressing to consider.

Comment by theist on Ideas ahead of their time · 2019-04-04T15:55:17.085Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Perfect! And done.

Comment by theist on Ideas ahead of their time · 2019-04-03T23:32:33.177Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

My apologies, it's the best I could come up with. I'm open to suggestions.

Comment by theist on Open Thread September 2018 · 2018-09-19T18:33:44.995Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

This article seems to have some bearing on decision theory, but I don't know enough about it or quantum mechanics to say what that bearing might be.

I'd be interested to know others' take on the article.

Comment by theist on Reality versus Human Expectations · 2018-03-28T17:12:55.441Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The Stoical scheme of supplying our wants by lopping off our desires, is like cutting off our feet when we want shoes.

Lovely quote, thank you.

Comment by theist on Reality versus Human Expectations · 2018-03-26T18:20:35.469Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

In that case, how do you handle the problem of humans wanting the "wrong" things? (Meaning people wanting things that ultimately result in bad outcomes for themselves or others.)

Would altering reality so it more closely aligns with the humans' desires include avoiding negative consequences, side effects, and externalities?

Comment by theist on Reality versus Human Expectations · 2018-03-23T16:39:59.914Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think that's my choice as well. Humans expectations are much narrower than reality appears to be. If reality conformed to human expectation then no one would ever be surprised, which I think would be sad.

Comment by theist on Reality versus Human Expectations · 2018-03-21T17:09:51.089Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

So of the expanded options, which would you choose?

Comment by theist on Physics question (slightly off-topic) · 2011-12-13T19:05:32.251Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Perhaps there is nothing which it is like to be a bat.

Comment by theist on Rationality Quotes: June 2011 · 2011-06-04T04:44:49.057Z · score: 5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

There is a lot to be gained by delegating to a central authority the responsibility of maintaining a credible threat of retaliation.

Comment by theist on Rationality Quotes: May 2011 · 2011-05-19T17:17:23.112Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

In the book, it's presented as a translation from the neo-dolphin language Trinary. I expect the resemblence to haiku is intentional.

Comment by theist on Rationality Quotes: May 2011 · 2011-05-06T16:31:53.039Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I'll take the upvotes here as a request for explanation.

I see two things in the poem. The first that occurred to me was the best way to predict the future is to create it. The second is related: Observe the situation and put yourself in the best position to affect or determine the outcome.

Comment by theist on Rationality Quotes: May 2011 · 2011-05-05T19:55:49.626Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Where does a ball alight,
Falling through the bright midair?
Hit it with your snout!

-- unnamed neo-dolphin poet, Uplift War by David Brin

Comment by theist on Inverse Speed · 2011-04-21T22:00:54.202Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Thank you for that humorous insight. I am entertained by the knowledge that my car has a fuel efficiency of 0.0784 mm^2.

Comment by theist on Rationality quotes: September 2010 · 2010-09-02T04:18:43.936Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

One can't proceed from the informal to the formal by formal means. Yet.

(Apologies to Alan Perlis etc)

Comment by theist on Rationality Quotes: July 2010 · 2010-07-09T20:33:21.628Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

...pain is far stronger than necessary as a warning sign.

It seems pretty clear to me that this was not true in our ancestral environment. It may be the case in our present artificially benign environment however.

Comment by theist on Rationality Quotes: July 2010 · 2010-07-09T19:48:37.014Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I think it would be more clear if it included the previous sentence:

Clearly, scientific education ought to mean the implanting of a rational, sceptical, experimental habit of mind.

Or perhaps just substituting "[Scientific education]" for "It".

Comment by theist on Rationality Quotes: July 2010 · 2010-07-09T19:42:37.277Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

[context added]

Rats had featured largely in the history of Ankh-Morpork. Shortly before the Patrician came to power there was a terrible plague of rats. The city council countered it by offering twenty pence for every rat tail. This did, for a week or two, reduce the number of rats--and then people were suddenly queing up with tails, the city treasury was being drained, and no one seemed to be doing much work. And there still seemed to be a lot of rats around.

Lord Vetinari had listened carefully while the problem was explained, and had solved the thing with one memorable phrase which said a lot about him, about the folly of bounty offers, and about the natural instinct of Ankh-Morporkians in any situation involving money: "Tax the rat farms."

-- Soul Music, by Terry Pratchett

Comment by theist on Open Thread June 2010, Part 2 · 2010-06-08T19:31:38.061Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I find a meditation-like focus on my breathing and heartbeat to be a very effective way to fall asleep when my thoughts are keeping me awake.

Comment by theist on Rationality quotes: June 2010 · 2010-06-04T23:27:54.744Z · score: 26 (26 votes) · LW · GW

"I accidentally changed my mind."

my four-year-old

Comment by theist on Rationality quotes: May 2010 · 2010-05-04T18:33:15.454Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I had a similar problem when I read Feynman's QED. His explanation felt so simple and easy to understand when I read it, but when I tried to explain it to someone else I couldn't make it make sense.

Comment by theist on Rationality Quotes: February 2010 · 2010-02-03T03:28:30.783Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

It's bad luck to be superstitious.

Comment by theist on Normal Cryonics · 2010-01-20T23:18:35.856Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Over time, wealth eventually causes the cultural changes we call "moral progress".

This seems a non-sequitur to me. There are a number of examples where wealth and moral progress are found together, but there are also examples where they are not. China and oil-rich Arab states come to mind.

Comment by theist on A Nightmare for Eliezer · 2009-11-29T02:49:44.286Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

This raises an interesting question: If you received a contact of this sort, how would you make sure it wasn't a hoax? Assuming the AI in question is roughly human-level, what could it do to convince you?

Comment by theist on Rationality Quotes: October 2009 · 2009-10-23T03:01:47.522Z · score: 4 (10 votes) · LW · GW

"I can't see it, so you must be wrong."

my four-year-old

Comment by theist on Rationality Quotes: October 2009 · 2009-10-23T00:02:13.362Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

"Greetings, my friend. We are all interested in the future, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives."

The Amazing Criswell

Comment by theist on The Finale of the Ultimate Meta Mega Crossover · 2009-09-20T23:37:13.591Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Incidentally, my favorite cameo in the all-cameo cast of dozens.

Comment by theist on Quantum Russian Roulette · 2009-09-18T23:45:24.474Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

If mangled worlds is correct (and I understand it correctly), then sufficiently improbable events fail to happen at all. What kind of limit would this place on the problems you can solve with "quantum suicide voodoo"?

Comment by theist on Some counterevidence for human sociobiology · 2009-08-29T03:40:38.725Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

An important consideration is that our society has a very strong taboo against polygyny.

Comment by theist on The Strangest Thing An AI Could Tell You · 2009-07-16T02:31:07.586Z · score: 42 (44 votes) · LW · GW

It's ok. The orange juice vouched for the cereal.

Comment by theist on The Strangest Thing An AI Could Tell You · 2009-07-15T19:47:03.648Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Some of the people you believe are dead are actually alive, but no matter how hard they try to get other people to notice them, their actions are immediately forgotten and any changes caused by those actions are rationalized away.

Fabulous story idea.

Comment by theist on The Strangest Thing An AI Could Tell You · 2009-07-15T19:42:46.269Z · score: 27 (29 votes) · LW · GW

There is a simple way to rapidly disrupt any social structure. The selection pressure which made humans unable to realize this is no longer present.

Comment by theist on Rationality Quotes - April 2009 · 2009-04-21T19:02:24.922Z · score: 9 (11 votes) · LW · GW

When the spiritual teacher and his disciples began their evening meditation, the cat who lived in the monastery made such noise that it distracted them. So the teacher ordered that the cat be tied up during the evening practice. Years later, when the teacher died, the cat continued to be tied up during the meditation session. And when the cat eventually died, another cat was brought to the monastery and tied up. Centuries later, learned descendants of the spiritual teacher wrote scholarly treatises about the religious significance of tying up a cat for meditation practice.

-- Zen Stories to Tell Your Neighbors http://www-usr.rider.edu/~suler/zenstory/ritualcat.html