The expected value of the long-term future 2017-12-28T22:46:06.511Z
Modesty and diversity: a concrete suggestion 2017-11-08T20:42:23.530Z
Fighting the evil influence of Facebook (but keeping the good bits): a manifesto and how-to guide 2017-10-19T11:43:40.284Z
Oxford Prioritisation Project Review 2017-10-13T23:07:15.874Z


Comment by [deleted] (tommsittler) on Wirehead your Chickens · 2018-06-26T20:17:09.854Z · LW · GW

Effective altruism does not imply utilitarianism. Utilitarianism (on most definitions) does not imply hedonism. I would guess less than 10% of EAs (or of animal-focused EAs) would consider themselves thoroughgoing hedonists, of the kind that would endorse e.g. injecting a substance that would numb humans to physical pain or amputating human body parts, if this reduced suffering even a little bit. So on the contrary, I think the objection is relevant.

Comment by [deleted] (tommsittler) on Loss aversion is not what you think it is · 2018-06-21T09:27:58.715Z · LW · GW

Loosely related, A Better Explanation Of The Endowment Effect

Comment by [deleted] (tommsittler) on Wirehead your Chickens · 2018-06-20T15:35:05.186Z · LW · GW

Thanks for the post. I agree that this is an important question. I do, however, have many disagreements.

  1. Many of us value things other than pleasure and the avoidance of pain when it comes to humans. Perhaps we ought to value these things also when it comes to non-human animals. It seems difficult to defend hedonism for non-human animals while rejecting it for humans. What is the relevant difference?
  2. The obvious alternative is to take animals out of the equation altogether with cultured meat. Lewis Bollard makes this point explicitly: "I think when people start to talk about completely re-engineering the minds of chickens so that they’re essentially brain-dead and don’t realise the environment they’re in, it just seems like a better option to only grow the meat part of the bird and not grow the mind at all." The solutions you propose, like to "identify and surgically or chemically remove the part of the brain that is responsible for suffering" are highly speculative with current science. One of your examples is literally science fiction. It seems to me that cultured meat would be easier to achieve technologically, while being similar or superior in consumer acceptance. Marie Gibbons claims that we might "see clean meat sold commercially within a year". Metaculus thinks the probability of a restaurant serving cultured meat by 2021 is 75%.
  3. For a short argument with two major flaws, I found the tone unnecessarily dismissive. You had had a short conversation about your new idea at EA Global, and concluded that your idea is not being widely pushed by others who work in this area. At this point it would have been appropriate to think of some obvious counter-arguments. Instead in this post I see a lot of speculation about which impure motives and fallacies in reasoning could explain why your idea hasn't been adopted. Some quotes: "This emphasis is quite understandable emotionally.", "this kind of anthropomorphizing", ""What do you mean, cut off baby chicken's legs so it does not have leg pain later? You, monster!"", "Because most people do not truly care about reducing animal suffering, they care about a different metric altogether, a visible human proxy for animal suffering that they find immediately relatable.", "actual suffering".
Comment by [deleted] (tommsittler) on Monopoly: A Manifesto and Fact Post · 2018-06-16T14:48:21.853Z · LW · GW

Hundreds of economists study this topic. Why not just read some books or papers?

Comment by [deleted] (tommsittler) on April Fools: Announcing: Karma 2.0 · 2018-04-01T20:54:25.491Z · LW · GW

This Berkeley Dad TRIPLED His Karma With One Weird Trick (Mods HATE Him!):

  1. Go To Your Profile
  2. Press 'Ctrl' And '+' At The Same Time
  3. Repeat Until Attain Desired Karma Level
Comment by [deleted] (tommsittler) on April Fools: Announcing: Karma 2.0 · 2018-04-01T20:19:00.847Z · LW · GW

This is a good start but you really need to implement differential kerning. Lofty words like 'Behoove' and 'Splendiferous' must be given the full horizontal space commanded by their dignity.

Comment by [deleted] (tommsittler) on Modesty and diversity: a concrete suggestion · 2018-03-25T20:14:48.049Z · LW · GW

I've updated the style to work at the new URL

Comment by [deleted] (tommsittler) on A LessWrong Crypto Autopsy · 2018-02-03T10:23:42.297Z · LW · GW

I strongly agree. Despite appearances, I wouldn't say someone with 10 bitcoin today has "won" at all. Winning means getting more of what you ultimately care about, like goods and services. You only win if you convert your bitcoin into goods or dollars at the right time. I am reminded of "buy low, sell high": an empty phrase that can sound deceptively like good investment advice.

Comment by [deleted] (tommsittler) on Announcement: AI alignment prize winners and next round · 2018-01-20T15:05:56.854Z · LW · GW

Okay, this project overshot my expectations. Congratulations to the winners!

Comment by [deleted] (tommsittler) on The expected value of the long-term future · 2017-12-30T20:49:21.039Z · LW · GW

Ord (2014) is all I'm aware of and it's unpublished.

Comment by [deleted] (tommsittler) on The expected value of the long-term future · 2017-12-29T09:56:10.490Z · LW · GW

Your editor chokes on URLs with underscores. I had to go to a URL shortener!

Comment by [deleted] (tommsittler) on In defence of epistemic modesty · 2017-11-08T21:01:56.196Z · LW · GW

This paper contains some interesting results regarding how exactly one should aggregate credences.


How should a group with different opinions (but the same values) make decisions? In a Bayesian setting, the natural question is how to aggregate credences: how to use a single credence function to naturally represent a collection of different credence functions. An extension of the standard Dutch-book arguments that apply to individual decision-makers recommends that group credences should be updated by conditionalization. This imposes a natural constraint on what aggregation rules can be like. Taking conditionalization as a basic constraint, we gather lessons from the established work on credence aggregation, and extend this work with two new impossibility results. We then explore contrasting features of two kinds of rules that satisfy the constraints we articulate: one kind uses fixed prior credences, and the other uses geometric averaging, as opposed to arithmetic averaging. We also prove a new characterisation result for geometric averaging. Finally we consider applications to neighboring philosophical issues, including the epistemology of disagreement.

Comment by [deleted] (tommsittler) on In defence of epistemic modesty · 2017-10-31T21:54:14.270Z · LW · GW

Good answer :)

Comment by [deleted] (tommsittler) on In defence of epistemic modesty · 2017-10-29T23:06:00.068Z · LW · GW

I'm curious why you chose Thrasymachus as your username. Do you agree with him, as portrayed in the Republic?

Comment by [deleted] (tommsittler) on Inadequacy and Modesty · 2017-10-29T10:42:20.678Z · LW · GW

Your comment is a little bit confusing.

The key claim is that it's perfectly feasible for a lay-person to confidently know a better monetary policy than the BoJ. This generalises such that

I assume you mean "the key claim" to apply to the second sentence as well. As in:

The key claim is that this generalises such that when you read someone making such a passing claim that BoJ's monetary policy is insane, this is basically zero evidence regarding whether the speaker is overconfident or not, because given the world we live in they could totally be able to know that.

Later you say:

our civilization is so inadequate that some random decision theorist can make a better macroeconomic decision than the Bank of Japan.

Now I take you to be endorsing, not describing, the key claim. Which is it?

At the end you say:

This post doesn't provide the evidence to persuade me of the view it holds, but it makes me think that modesty epistemology is much less an abstract claim than an empirical one.

Call M the view: "I don't expect a layperson can make a better macroeconomic decision than the Bank of Japan. Until further evidence, I'll call such claims overconfident". Are you making the very weak** claim that M is an empirical statement? Or the much stronger claim that not-M?

[ ** In a way it's trivially true that if you're a bayesian, there are no epistemological questions left (modulo anthropics), only empirical ones.]

Comment by [deleted] (tommsittler) on Inadequacy and Modesty · 2017-10-28T23:14:53.832Z · LW · GW

Even if we believed that central bankers are purely selfish, and don't care at all about the mandate they have nominally taken on, they still have some incentive to produce higher employment (inflation being equal). Politicians encourage them to do so, and they get prestige among macroeconomists (e.g. "wow FED chairperson X presided over the longest period of peacetime growth since 1900."). To paraphrase evolution-is-just-a-theorem: what incentive do central bankers have not to puruse adequately loose monteray policy?

Comment by [deleted] (tommsittler) on What would convince you you'd won the lottery? · 2017-10-10T17:20:53.823Z · LW · GW

This was fun!