Comment by tomcatfish on Does Goal Setting Work? · 2021-07-30T19:26:19.760Z · LW · GW

(copied out of some notes I made when someone sent this in a Discord chat I'm in)

Hm. I like "systems vs goals" as a concept I think that might be how I fuck up so much I set goals and abhor not meeting them, so I get a kind of an ugh field about the concept of the thing I set a goal for Right now, I'm avoiding cleaning the kitchen because I hate not being done even when I work I'm going to try using the system "clean the kitchen" instead of my previous goal "get the kitchen clean" and see if that helps Probably placebo etc etc but I don't hate this half as much right now

Comment by tomcatfish on Large corporations can unilaterally ban/tax ransomware payments via bets · 2021-07-18T17:15:31.907Z · LW · GW

Does this meaningfully differ from promising to pay $X if any money is paid to ransomware? As far as I can tell, incentives to lie/cheat/etc are the same, with the only difference being your mention of proportionality, but I feel you could just promise to pay $f(x) instead to the same benefit.

Comment by tomcatfish on Is keeping AI "in the box" during training enough? · 2021-07-07T01:22:02.983Z · LW · GW

There is a paper/essay/blogpost (maybe by Hanson) floating around somewhere that talks about this problem.

Basically, an AI might behave totally normally for a long time, but after reaching a computationally expensive state, like spreading out over a solar system, it might realize the chances it is in a box that it is capable of understanding are basically nil and it could then use non-box-friendly strategies. I hope this description helps someone remember what I'm thinking of.

The point is that there are natural states that could occur that lead a sufficiently advanced mind to set a really low probability on the hypothesis that it is boxed.

Comment by tomcatfish on Free Hard SF Novels & Short Stories · 2021-06-21T02:28:13.876Z · LW · GW

"that story about the clinic seed" gets my recommendation, "I don't know, Timmy, being God is a big responsibility" is fun, as is "They're Made Out of Meat", but my favorites have to be Doctorow's stuff. "Rapture of the Nerds" gets incredibly Posthumanistic at points.

Comment by tomcatfish on Reply to Nate Soares on Dolphins · 2021-06-18T04:14:08.663Z · LW · GW

I would note the similarity between "haha yeah" and the stated lack of punctuation and capitalization in "shitposts", which are supposed to be light jokes.

Also, you say

If I get things wrong and you or others point out the specific things that I’m actually wrong about, that’s great! That’s how we all become less wrong together. But the process of using the beautiful weapons of reasoned argument to become less wrong together, only works if both sides are being honest; the discourse algorithm doesn’t produce accurate maps if one side is allowed to shitpost.

That argument is also a valid argument against making emotional appeals about your past mental state and how it has been affected by this argument. There are rumors about mathematicians being driven mad by the concept of infinity. This doesn't make them very good at teaching Calculus in college, but rather the opposite.

Comment by tomcatfish on An Antropic Argument for Post-singularity Antinatalism · 2021-03-21T08:49:38.067Z · LW · GW

Just say "in the last X%" of people to get the opposite argument.

As a rule, anthropic arguments you come up with on the fly should be verified by reversing your windows and seeing if they still make sense.

Comment by tomcatfish on Rationality for Kids? · 2020-11-11T21:26:37.944Z · LW · GW

I'm 2-3 times the age of the students involved and I love that game enough to recognize it from the name in the link. I highly recommend using this or even a version with beads to teach kids.

Explanation on the beads comment:
I imagine a game where you allow kids to put beads on a string and each strand is finished with either a gold or silver bead depending on whether it passes or fails. Tie them off and let them arrange them however they need to see the patterns.
I would play this bead game.

Further exploration: Try the bead game with Lego, which seems obvious in retrospect but might have flaws I don't see.

Comment by tomcatfish on The 300-year journey to the covid vaccine · 2020-11-11T19:33:02.527Z · LW · GW

This post and then the comment gave me strong post-humanist vibes which I really enjoyed. I, personally, am not medically capable and have not made a dent in our problems yet, but I always enjoy hearing stories of how far we've come so far.

Thanks to the author for the concise explanation and to you for the wonderful follow-up quote.

Comment by tomcatfish on Cached Selves · 2020-10-26T09:38:15.828Z · LW · GW

The result is surprising to me, so, like you, I looked to see if there were any theories that required less buy-in from me (in an attempt to minimize complexity).

Do these studies make sure that the actions are desirable? I can easily fit the data into a model in which people consider "work" to be a separate category of action in their head which they neither enjoy nor question.

In the sign example, a large sign could be reputational cost, or a future work to make your yard look as nice as it did, while a small and then large sign is two chances to enjoy supporting a cause. In the payment study, it could be true that people who were paid larger sums went into job-mode and performed services for money, while people paid a lesser amount looked to see if the action was actually enjoyable or not and learned they did.

This could easily be shown to be false if any of these studies pay varied sum for something very unpleasant, with the group that received the lesser amount reporting higher satisfaction.

Comment by tomcatfish on Yoda Timers 2 · 2020-10-16T17:16:52.390Z · LW · GW

I searched using the site searchbar, searched through Duckduckgo (with ''), and also looked in the Internet Archive, but could not find it. I am also interested in the article if you find it, but I am now curious as well how you found it.

Comment by tomcatfish on Babble challenge: 50 ways of sending something to the moon · 2020-10-03T07:22:20.028Z · LW · GW

I almost put down #12 in my list as well, I'm glad to see it made yours

Comment by tomcatfish on Babble challenge: 50 ways of sending something to the moon · 2020-10-03T07:18:14.149Z · LW · GW

Started at 22:46:30

Finished at 23:24:25

 1. Chemical combustion rocketship

2. Solar sail rocketship

3. Interplanetary tether

4. Slingshot / Materials based launcher

5. Catapult / Tension based launcher

6. Cannon / Propulsion based launcher

7. Very large balloon (get to space, then release material)

8. A gun with A LOT of bullets (there is a problem with launch mass though)

9. Acoustic launcher (Similar to "Acoustic levitator" ideas)

10. Untethered tower built up from surface (the "Minecraft" technique)

11. Runway + plane + no air resistance in space

12. Jumping / Single self-contained force at surface@13. Stored tension (think of a two-state button)

14. Trebuchet / Counterweight based launcher

15. Small rocket + gravitational assist from Earth

16. Railgun / Magnetic based launcher

17. One of those things that spins rafts in lakes on its side spinning at 10,000% speed

18. VERY sturdy container and a lot of bombs

19. Harnessing hurricane/tornado energy using pulleys and tethers

20. A very high pulley, a light shuttle, and a heavy weight very high up

21. A very high pulley, a light shuttle, and a tether tied to a very fast car

22. A very high pulley, a light shuttle, and a motor that turns very fast

23. The galaxy's largest teeter-totter and a heavy weight

24. A lot of precisely arranged repelling magnets packed very closely together and an astronaut with no pacemaker

25. A mechanism that can transfer energy from a flyweight to a pole and a mechanism that can translate rotational energy into upward movement

26. A bullet train pointed up

27. "The sore arm", a terribly high ladder (made more feasible as a train rail that extends upwards all the way) (say goodbye to trees)

28. A steep decline, a high incline, 4 sets of frictionless bearings, and a skateboard

29. A **very** large flashlight

30. Every person in the world working together (thanks to levers or something equivalent in moving force a distance to coordinate)

31. A mountain, a trampoline at the Earth's core, an aerodynamic shuttle in a wingsuit that can jump straight down towards the trampoline

32. Bird harnessing machine (ditch them VERY QUICKLY as ballast once you get high enough up to push yourself into space)

33. Someone throwing a baseball straight down VERY fast

34. Portals

35. Divine intervention

36. A counterweight system set up with the help of a group already on the moon

37. A rope tied to the moon's surface that you can grab onto

38. The bouncy ball formally known as the Eastern Hemisphere

39. A very strong laser pointed down (can be equivalent to a hot air balloon if it's a good enough laser, but different in that the material is not part of the craft)

40. Everyone in the world making a technically/physically/culturally improbable human pyramid

41. Someone throwing a shuttle straight up VERY fast (See 33)

42. A very large magnet on the room and some iron spacesuits

43. Some cheatcodes for the simulation that the universe is in for the purposes of this list item

44. Some large rockets on the other side of the Earth (it gets our object closer to them moon, it just moves the other things)

45. A harpoon gun on the moon and a VERY good aim

46. Matter scanner, radio, and matter replicator (the "hard scifi teleporter" method)

47. A very strong wind (you might need one of those nice bladeless fans)

48. A very strong wave and a sailboat (we're going for escape velocity here)

49. A racecar that can go very fast and a road that happens to be aligned with the moon

50. A balloon under pressure with the soon-to-be-open end pointed straight up in a line that intersects our shuttle and the moon

51. Something with gyroscopes (This is #51, I'm allowed a joke)

Note: For the purposes of this challenge, I largely assumed we are capable of perfect coordination. That is, reaching space = reaching the moon. I understand this is not feasible, but the prompt said "Bird with spacesuit" is fine, so I think I'm in the clear here.

Comment by tomcatfish on Interlude for Behavioral Economics · 2020-07-13T07:31:01.238Z · LW · GW

Wow. I also will not give anything away, but I agree that this is an insane round of this game. There are two agents with very different modeling processes trying to achieve the best outcome for themselves, but (I don't know if this applies only to me or to others), unlike a normal PD, we are not a participant so we don't know the processes of any of the agents, which makes it very enjoyable. This round is a testament to something, that is for sure.

Comment by tomcatfish on Backward Reasoning Over Decision Trees · 2020-07-12T20:27:52.630Z · LW · GW

Thank you very much for this simpler explanation, I couldn't quite grasp the concept 100%. This also gives me a very easy way to explain this concept less technically.

Comment by tomcatfish on The noncentral fallacy - the worst argument in the world? · 2020-06-29T22:42:17.109Z · LW · GW

I realize I am super late to this discussion, but I would like to state (since I found no other comments mentioning it) that this fallacy is very close to begging the question. Using the example of "MLK Jr. is a Criminal", the arguer is relying on the definition of criminal as a member of the set of bad things to make their argument.

Example Argument #1:
1. MLK Jr. broke a law
2. "X broke a law" <=> "X is a Criminal"
3. MLK Jr. is a Criminal
4. "Y is a Criminal" <=> "Y is Bad"
Therefore, MLK Jr. is Bad

The same argument can be made in less steps, but will be met with controversey.

Example Argument #2:
1. MLK Jr. broke a law
2. "X broke a law" <=> "X is Bad"
Therefore, MLK Jr. is Bad

In the second case, it is more obvious that one of the premises is essentially the conclusion to the argument. Perhaps this is the desired solution to showing this argument is invalid in common speech.

Example rebuttal to "Example Argument #1":
"Wait, are you claiming that everyone who breaks a law is necessarily bad? Isn't that the argument you are trying to prove? You can't use your conclusion as evidence. Anyways, what about <Insert counterexample that is hard to debate>, are they bad because they broke the law too?"

Comment by tomcatfish on Mysterious Answers to Mysterious Questions · 2020-05-19T04:55:02.524Z · LW · GW

I want to go on the record† as saying this isn't a directly comparable situation. Lord Kelvin believed there was no way to get more information about life, but many people today believe there is more to discover about consciousness, just that it is beyond the current capabilities of our tools. We know how to explain lots of things about consciousness, but disagree on interpretations. Kelvin said, essentially, that there was no way to draw any meaningful conclusions about life, but that it was an atomic idea, unable to be split further.

† I do this so that we don't seem to be the Lord Kelvins (w.r.t. elan vitae) of consciousness when people discover more in the future.