Comment by Torben on Open Thread, August 1-15, 2012 · 2012-08-03T16:46:53.668Z · LW · GW


Comment by Torben on [Link] Why don't people like markets? · 2012-06-27T17:13:24.303Z · LW · GW

Wow, sorry about the stupid autocorrects above.

As have been pointed out on e.g, one reason HFT is so popular is because the minimum stock price increment is one cent. HFT might conceivably lose much of its allure if this lower bound is changed to, say, .01 cent.

I'm not convinced trading must be intelligent to provide beneficial information to the market. I'm also not convinced all HFT systems have identical systematic errors. Can you give some examples?

Comment by Torben on [Link] Why don't people like markets? · 2012-06-25T17:36:21.771Z · LW · GW

What is the problem with high-speed trading in your opinion? I see a lot of people wanting a Financial Transactoons Tax, but I have yet to see étaples of what it would accomplish or prevent?

Comment by Torben on [Link] Why don't people like markets? · 2012-06-25T17:32:48.283Z · LW · GW

Yes, please!

Comment by Torben on Stupid Questions Open Thread Round 2 · 2012-04-25T12:34:42.346Z · LW · GW

In Fabric of Reality, David Deutsch claims the double-split experiment is evidence of photons interfering with photons in other worlds.

Comment by Torben on One last roll of the dice · 2012-02-03T18:07:03.013Z · LW · GW

That would amount to convincing me that the experience which is currently happening, is not currently happening; or that an experience which previously happened, did not actually happen.

Why? What's wrong with an experience happening in another way than you imagine? This more than anything cries "crackpot" to me; the uncompromising attitude that your opponents' view must lead to absurdities. Like Christians arguing that without souls, atheists should go on killing sprees all the time.

Comment by Torben on Open Thread: September 2011 · 2011-09-04T04:34:01.397Z · LW · GW

Your model assumes a constant effect in each iteration. Is this justified?

I would envisage a constant chance of recovery and an asymptotically declining estimate of recovery. It seems more realistic, but maybe it's just me?

Comment by Torben on Secrets of the eliminati · 2011-07-18T08:04:08.724Z · LW · GW

Interesting post throughout, but don't you overplay your hand a bit here?

There's nothing that looks remotely like a goal in its programming, [...]

An IF-THEN piece of code comparing a measured RGB value to a threshold value for firing the laser would look at least remotely like a goal to my mind.

Comment by Torben on Smart, (young), ambitious and clueless -- what to do to maximize goodness? · 2011-07-17T09:43:17.001Z · LW · GW

Well, moderate as in they don't have rule of law etc. What I meant to say was that even this level of capitalism has worked wonders in dragging hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. Contrary to decades of Western foreign aid.

Comment by Torben on Smart, (young), ambitious and clueless -- what to do to maximize goodness? · 2011-07-17T09:41:48.649Z · LW · GW

Every system ever devised consists of smart people telling the dumb ones what to do. Even in feudal society with hereditary rule, the thicker-than-brick kings were manipulated by smart barons and courtiers :-P

I'd venture capitalism less so than other systems. At least dumb people to some extent get what they want in capitalism. But of course, this is one aspect of nature that's very difficult to remedy and I worry that the cure is worse than the ailment

Caveat lector: I'm reading Atlas Shrugged right now.

Generalization from fictional evidence

I meant it as an explanation of my current dismal perspective, not as evidence of anything. Sorry if it didn't come across right.

Comment by Torben on Smart, (young), ambitious and clueless -- what to do to maximize goodness? · 2011-07-16T16:06:57.793Z · LW · GW

Sorry for jumping to conclusions.

I took "harness the capitalist system and the dumb people's desires in such a way that they can achieve their own desires" as a paternalistic statement.

Comment by Torben on Other Useful Sites LWers Read · 2011-07-16T15:49:56.872Z · LW · GW

Megan McArdle is often interesting on current economics

Comment by Torben on Smart, (young), ambitious and clueless -- what to do to maximize goodness? · 2011-07-16T15:45:16.023Z · LW · GW

I'm sorry me message didn't come across clearly. I can see it's not phrased well.

I'm immensely skeptical of the notion that clever people are needed to tell dumb people what to do to achieve what they want; to "harness the capitalist system". Mostly because so-called smart people have multiple other flaws that mainly stem from their not participating in or acknowledging the marketplace.

Many (public/social) intellectuals have such poor understanding of basic issues of economics, psychology and evolution that their prescribed cures worsen the ailment.

Which is why I mentioned Europe, a moribound continent which doesn't seem to understand that it has to produce stuff to consume stuff and which appears to value appearances and 'ethical policies' over facing economic reality.

Save for problems regarding the tragedy of the commons, I see little hope for centralized harnessing by clever people. I see socialism as the economic variant of creationism: the notion that good, complex things cannot arise without central planning.

Caveat lector: I'm reading Atlas Shrugged right now.

Comment by Torben on Rationalist approach to developing Writing skills · 2011-07-16T15:23:02.124Z · LW · GW

I'm tempted to write up a post setting out the rules in Richard Gabriel's book now that the Discussion forum can serve as a lower-pressure environment where people could post pieces specifically for the purpose of getting useful feedback on their writing.

Please do so.

Comment by Torben on Smart, (young), ambitious and clueless -- what to do to maximize goodness? · 2011-07-16T15:20:21.416Z · LW · GW

It is up to the smart, ambitious and motivated to direct and harness the capitalist system and the dumb people's desires in such a way that they can achieve their own desires. Including those that happen to be altruistic.

You ignore that smart etc. people have to be able to distinguish between fuzzies and reality. Without a marketplace to weed out poor performers, this is wishful thinking.

I live in Europe...

Comment by Torben on Smart, (young), ambitious and clueless -- what to do to maximize goodness? · 2011-07-16T15:18:45.262Z · LW · GW

China should be the best example of what even moderate levels of capitalism can do.

The Communist bloc aren't know for their environmentally-friendly outcomes or even policies.

Comment by Torben on Offense versus harm minimization · 2011-04-24T10:32:13.349Z · LW · GW

I don't know.

Perhaps "freedom of speech" (or whatever variable to call it) is so tightly bundled with other variables -- most of all affluence -- that it's impossible to asses properly.

OTOH, if this bundling is evident across nations, cultures and time, it probably means that it truly is an important part of a net desirable society?

Comment by Torben on Offense versus harm minimization · 2011-04-24T10:27:26.163Z · LW · GW

I commend you for your amendment. Good for you, sir!

My second issue is, if you don't have any sort of nefarious intentions, what is motivating you to use the word ["queer"], instead of another one? Are you in a rap battle for the fate of the universe and you absolutely must complete the rhyme "drank a beer, jigger of rum//man that queer nigger was dumb"?

I rarely use such words, because it's difficult to get it right. But my libertarian side does not like people telling me what I can or can't say.

When I do use such words, it's most often to mock a racist/sexist/homophobic POV.

Comment by Torben on Offense versus harm minimization · 2011-04-21T10:23:16.606Z · LW · GW

Okay, I see your point.

I still believe there's a problem in using the word "hostility" since it's negatively connotated. Further, I think there's a big difference between doing something because of the offence it causes per se and doing it because you think the offence is harmful and want to reduce it. But it is a minor issue which probably won't bring us further by discussing much further.

Comment by Torben on Offense versus harm minimization · 2011-04-20T12:46:11.674Z · LW · GW

Maybe from the POV of the Muslims but not of the perpetrators.

Their (my) intent is not to do harm but to do good. For the Muslims by hopefully desensitizing them, enabling them to live in a modern, globalized, enlightened world. For the world by reducing the amount of political violence.

It's very difficult to see that for people mocking the Holocaust. How can they think they're improving the world?

Comment by Torben on Offense versus harm minimization · 2011-04-20T12:25:45.268Z · LW · GW

Libertarian white straight male here. "Our word" is the map, not the territory.

Everything is context and many people will fail miserably at using "nigger", "queer" etc. in even marginally appropriate contexts. Moreover, probably >99% of the time whites/straights use the words they're meant to be offensive. Which is all the more reason (for members of these groups) to avoid the use to avoid confusion.

However, that also includes members of said minorities who belive that from their merely being members of such groups they have rights or sensibilities others don't. They don't. It's just that they're pretty much guaranteed not to be denigrating their own group*.

So to me the issue is transparency. If I as a straight white male somehow could achieve the same level of transparency regarding my goals and intentions, I should be able to use such words just like black gays. My scheme allows for that; yours doesn't.

Finally, many people take offence at "nigger" or "queer", even when used by the in-groups. I feel pretty uncomfortable when you guys do that, so would you please stop it?**

ETA: would you yourself "use ["queer"] with carte blanche in all social situations"?

*: At least in the way of the original haters. **: Semi-tongue-in-cheek.

Comment by Torben on Offense versus harm minimization · 2011-04-20T12:04:44.744Z · LW · GW

Your intent seems unclear to me. The West has over the past couple hundred years loosened its restrictions on public speech regarding taboos -- on atheism, racial&sexual equality, etc. This has surely caused many people mental pain.

Was this course of events then morally wrong?

Should the debaters of yore have made sure their opponents had learned " the accompanying coping techniques — such as relaxation or imagery exercises" before proceeding towards our more pluralist world?

Comment by Torben on Offense versus harm minimization · 2011-04-20T11:57:25.288Z · LW · GW

Everybody would feel enraged by snide remarks regarding attempted genocide of one's ethnic group -- not least because it's very difficult not to perceive it as a veiled threat.

Not everybody would feel enraged by snide remarks of one's cultural/religious/philosophical inspiration -- not least because it's an obvious strategy for a utility monster.

Comment by Torben on Offense versus harm minimization · 2011-04-19T12:57:47.800Z · LW · GW

But how do I rationally make this computation without my own biases coming in?

One way is to try and compare similar countries where such offensiveness bans are enforced or not, and see which direction net migration is.

This may be difficult since countries without such bans will in all likely become more prosperous than those with them.

Another alternative might be comparing the same country before and after such laws, e.g. Pakistan.

Comment by Torben on Research methods · 2011-02-22T17:57:02.672Z · LW · GW

Mine too -- a bank.

We've launched a company-wide project to estimate the cost-benefit relationship of scanning all new documents vs. scanning all new + existing documents vs. continuing like now. Perhaps not surprisingly, scanning new documents but not old is the most cost-efficient. This obviously depends on how often one needs to retrieve the documents.

At my company, servers but not scanners exist, and many people already have two monitors.

Comment by Torben on Procedural Knowledge Gaps · 2011-02-09T19:18:00.063Z · LW · GW

I second this request. I am good with names of politicians or actors, but terrible with people, I meet IRL.

Comment by Torben on Procedural Knowledge Gaps · 2011-02-08T19:53:42.767Z · LW · GW

One crucial recommendation is to shave upwards from the bottom of your neck to the top. This takes a lot of getting used to and really gave me the willies at first, but it works much better and you miss a lot less hair.

Really? I have the exact opposite experience. I find that going against the grain, especially on the neck, gives me nicks and rashes.

After having experimented a lot, what works for me is wetshaving using any ol' shaving cream, multi-blade razor, going with the grain.

Since facial hair grows in different directions this means you have to pay attention to it. Briefly, I shave top-down on the face and away from the chin on the neck.

For a very smooth shave, I sometimes do it with the grain, a second time against the grain and a third time with it. I read somewhere that the third time is important to avoid ingrown hair and rashes and in my case it works, but YMMV.

Comment by Torben on "Irrationality in Argument" · 2010-12-17T19:31:56.030Z · LW · GW

That makes more sense than my reading, and is more likely what he meant.

Comment by Torben on "Irrationality in Argument" · 2010-12-17T18:36:08.127Z · LW · GW

[...] you could prove that (A => B) and (B => C) and (C => D) and (D => F) Justice would nod its head and agree, but then, when you turned to claim your coup de grace, A => F irrevocably, Justice would demur and revoke the axiom of transitivity, for Justice will not be told when F stands for freedom.

I think Justice really, really should let emself be told when F stands for freedom. It seems to me Assange is more or less saying that he will follow logic steps only as far as they lead to a conclusion he likes. Am I the only one reading him this way?

Transitivity is evoked when Justice imagines F and finding the dream a pleasurable one sets about gathering cushions to prop up their slumber.

This sounds like searching for arguments to a foregone conclusion.

Here then is the truth about the Truth; the Truth is not bridge, sturdy to every step, a marvel of bound planks and supports from the known into the unknown, but a surging sea of smashed wood, flotsam and drowning sailors.

This reminds me of a guy, having lost an argument to me fatally, who resorted to saying, "consistency is overrated". He'd rather have two mutually exclusive ideas and acknowledge this as fact than change his mind.

Comment by Torben on Transparency and Accountability · 2010-08-21T18:54:32.552Z · LW · GW

I think that if SIAI were well constituted, donating to it would be much more cost effective than VillageReach.

For most realistic interest rates this statement would have made it more rational to put your previous traditional aid donation into a banking account for a year to see if your bet had come out -- and then donating to SIAI.

Comment by Torben on Transparency and Accountability · 2010-08-21T18:47:10.821Z · LW · GW

Are you familiar with the Hansonian view of signaling?

Comment by Torben on What should I have for dinner? (A case study in decision making) · 2010-08-15T20:43:18.558Z · LW · GW

Carbohydrates can be made from fat [...]

Not in animals including humans.

Comment by Torben on Open Thread, August 2010 · 2010-08-04T16:06:14.756Z · LW · GW

Thank you all. It seems I perhaps haven't phrased my question the way I thought of it.

I don't doubt the validity of the proofs underlying Bayes' theorem, just as I don't doubt the validity of Euclidian geometry. The question is rather if BT/probability theory hinges on assumptions that may turn out not to be necessarily true for all possible worlds, geometries, curvatures, whatever. This turned out to be the case for Euclidian geometry, as it did for Zeno. They assumed features of the world which turned out not to be the case.

It may be that my question doesn't even make sense, but what I was trying to convey was what apriori assumptions does BT rely on which may turn out to be dodgy in the real world?

I'm not as such trying to convince people, rather trying to understand my own side's arguments.

Comment by Torben on Open Thread, August 2010 · 2010-08-03T18:51:08.097Z · LW · GW

In an argument with a philosopher, I used Bayesian updating as an argument. Guy's used to debating theists and was worried it wasn't bulletproof. Somewhat akin to how, say, the sum of angles of a triangle only equals 180 in Euclidian geometry.

My question: what are the fundamental assumptions of Bayes theorem in particular and probability theory in general? Are any of these assumptions immediate candidates for worry?

Comment by Torben on Book Club Update and Chapter 1 · 2010-06-16T18:27:54.319Z · LW · GW

In the spreadsheet, Finland has GMT +2. Does Finland not observe daylight savings time? I thought Finland wasn't in the CET zone? If I'm correct, Finland should be GMT +3

Comment by Torben on Less Wrong Book Club and Study Group · 2010-06-09T19:42:13.409Z · LW · GW

I'll join in. I have some vacation coming up, but no more than a week at a time. In Denmark (fat chance).

Comment by Torben on Open Thread June 2010, Part 2 · 2010-06-07T18:47:07.200Z · LW · GW

Regarding Einstein, he made the statements before becoming super famous. I understand it as a case of signaling 'look over here!' And he is not particularly safe against errors. One of his last actions (which I have not fact checked sufficiently so far) was to write a foreword for a book debunking the movement of the continental plates.

I didn't intend to portray Einstein as bulletproof, but rather highlight his reasoning. Plus point to the idea of even locating the idea in idea space. Obviously, creationism is wrong, but less wrong than a random string. It at least manages to identify a problem and using cause and effect.

Comment by Torben on Open Thread June 2010, Part 2 · 2010-06-07T17:19:47.227Z · LW · GW

One variable often invoked to explain happiness in Denmark (who regularly rank #1 for happiness) is modest expectations.

ETA: the above paper seems a bit tongue-in-cheek, but as I gather, the results are solid. Full disclosure: I'm from Denmark.

Comment by Torben on Open Thread June 2010, Part 2 · 2010-06-07T17:14:44.743Z · LW · GW


As the OP states, idea space is humongous. The fact alone that people comprehend something sufficiently to say anything about it at all means that this something is a) noteworthy enough to be picked up by our evolutionarily derived faculties by even a bad rationalist b) expressible by same faculties c) not immediately, obviously wrong

To sum up, the fact that someone claims something is weak evidence that it's true, cf. Einstein's Arrogance. If this someone is Einstein, the evidence is not so weak.

Edit: just to clarify, I think this evidence is very weak, but evidence for the proposition, nonetheless. Dependent on the metric, by far most propositions must be "not even wrong", i.e. garbled, meaningless or absurd. The ratio of "true" to {"wrong" + "not even wrong"} seems to ineluctably be larger for propositions expressed by humans than for those not expressed, which is why someone uttering the proposition counts as evidence for it. People simply never claim that apples fall upwards, sideways, green, kjO30KJ&¤k etc.

Comment by Torben on Open Thread: June 2010 · 2010-06-02T05:14:09.373Z · LW · GW

If all the members of a cult committed suicide then the local rate is 100%.

The most local rate that we so far know of is 15/400,000 which is 4x below baseline. If these 15 people worked at, say, the same plant of 1,000 workers you may have a point. But we don't know.

At this point there is nothing to explain.

Comment by Torben on Abnormal Cryonics · 2010-05-27T09:28:52.762Z · LW · GW

Really? I may be lucky, but I have quite the opposite experience. Of course, I haven't signed up due to my place of residence but I have mentioned it to friends and family and they don't seem to think much about it.

Comment by Torben on Aspergers Poll Results: LW is nerdier than the Math Olympiad? · 2010-05-15T12:16:49.371Z · LW · GW

Sorry, inferential distance.

It seems to privilege the hypothesis to use the factoid of non-standardized DSM use to dismiss a relevant point based on best available evidence. Does Douglas_Knight have reason to believe such possible caveats with DSM use renders the point moot, because I consider it non-obvious that such a factoid completely abolishes Roko's argument?

It seems flawed to counter a specific finding with a fairly large effect with a general critique of the technique without evidence that this particular example is likely to be biased by it.

IOW, what would Dougles_Knight's response be if his factoid is either wrong, non-applicable or irrelevant?

It's a conversation-stopper when used like here.

Comment by Torben on Aspergers Poll Results: LW is nerdier than the Math Olympiad? · 2010-05-14T10:03:04.703Z · LW · GW

Leave a line of retreat.

Comment by Torben on Ureshiku Naritai · 2010-04-10T08:41:09.834Z · LW · GW

I think it's easy for people to conflate "I did not consciously cause myself to have this emotion" with "I cannot consciously cause myself to not have this emotion".

I have little trouble with happiness, but some with sudden anger bouts. Trouble is, when I'm in one, I kinda like it and don't really want to get out of it.

Thanks to your series I'll try to consciously attack it next time.

Comment by Torben on Open Thread: February 2010, part 2 · 2010-02-16T21:00:03.623Z · LW · GW

I've been trying to find the original post to explain why it allegedly is so very likely that we live in a simulation, but I've had little luck. Does anyone have a link handy?

Comment by Torben on Shut Up and Divide? · 2010-02-16T20:47:08.475Z · LW · GW

Does our "solving it" in the present lead to its exacerbation in the future? How will Ethiopians manage to control their population? Will our aid today directly cause 20 million people to starve in 2050?

On your points:

  • Is it us westerners' or the Ethiopians' problem to solve? I mean they've so far made it ~2.5 times worse than We are the world.

  • At some point their birth rate will either have to equal their death rate (+ immigration) or their starvation will not be solvable by anyone or anything short of a Singularity.

The way I see it, the primary responsibility is on Ethiopians. We may alleviate, but we cannot cure.

Comment by Torben on Shut Up and Divide? · 2010-02-14T12:47:09.866Z · LW · GW

If your friend falls and breaks his leg, is that "self-inflicted"? Is it best to bring him to the hospital, or to leave him crying on the ground so he can learn something?

It seems that for some countries, falling accidentally is pandemic, while other countries rationally attempt to avoid it? Isn't this comment willfully ignoring the analogy denisbider was using?

Comment by Torben on Shut Up and Divide? · 2010-02-14T12:01:02.189Z · LW · GW

I was a bit surprised to hear that Ethiopia's population has doubled since the famine there in the 1980s. Where does it end?

Expected to double again by 2050.

I think it is a very fair point that by alleviating suffering today we may be compounding it in the future. A rebuttal might be that it is 'merely' a matter of doing the right thing today as well as in the future.

Comment by Torben on A Much Better Life? · 2010-02-06T17:12:15.709Z · LW · GW

Presumably, Gamma and Omega have a less biased world-view in general and model of us specifically than non-trained humans do of elk. Humans have been known to be surprised at e.g. animal altruism directed at species members or humans.

I hope for the sake of all Omega-based arguments that Omega is assumed to be less biased than us.

Comment by Torben on Open Thread: February 2010 · 2010-02-06T13:19:36.210Z · LW · GW

1%. I find the question ambiguous. Glial cells very likely have a major effect (I assume it's not part of the exercise to look it up).

This is discounting blood vessels and other necessary logistics.