Comment by wakarimahen on MetaMed: Evidence-Based Healthcare · 2013-03-06T19:37:24.548Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'm surprised as well. I expected to be downvoted to -2 or so pretty quickly, and stay around there.

As for your disagreements, I should stress that what I said is perhaps the absolute most important thing for the average person with a health issue like that to hear. All too many people get hung up on trying to target the problem specifically, when they're dealing with an issue where doing so is not practical. Day after day, they ask, "What causes fibromyalgia? What are the new treatments suggested for it?" They remain fixated on these questions, while they sweep all sorts of other symptoms under the rug--random symptoms like headaches or splitting nails, which may be coming from the same source.

As for the Google hits, I'm not sure why you're calling them suspect. Jon Barron is one of the best alternative health writers out there, the Weston A. Price Foundation has a huge following, PaleoHacks is perhaps the best forum on paleo (which is a diet and lifestyle with a massive following), and the other link is a blog that I've seen cited a bunch of times in paleo circles as being someone who is less likely than average to fall for various forms of silliness.

Is this enough evidence to suggest you should read the links and take them seriously? No idea. They have a lot of links within them though. My goal was to as quickly as possible find some articles that put the conditions for 'tab explosion' in place in a way I thought would be beneficial. Generally when conventional medicine doesn't have the answer, the best place to look is where people are talking about paleo. Even stereotypically non-paleo things like raw vegan juicing, such as the Gerson Diet, will come up in paleo circles--quite simply because it seems to work.

Comment by wakarimahen on MetaMed: Evidence-Based Healthcare · 2013-03-06T06:41:26.064Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Current prior: nothing has helped so far, so the odds of something she missed ended up being useful is pretty low.

This assumes she's good at sifting through the massive expanse of information available, and good at implementing the suggestions therein. These are two extremely questionable assumptions. Knowing nothing about her except that she has severe fibromyalgia and that she's the friend of a frequent poster on LW--two factors that hardly seem very relevant, and I'd put the likelihood of those two assumptions holding up to be very low. Quite bluntly, most people have no idea what's really out there. The Internet is a vast space.

Comment by wakarimahen on MetaMed: Evidence-Based Healthcare · 2013-03-06T06:28:16.191Z · score: 4 (14 votes) · LW · GW

All possible conventional and alternative medicine? I doubt it. This is a mind-destroying sentence if I ever saw one. I'd suggest re-wording it to "she's tried a ton of different approaches both from conventional and alternative medicine".

First thing to be said: Fibromyalgia is one of those health issues where there are no widely adopted hypotheses for the base mechanism at work. This means, quite simply, that there is little hope for targeting it specifically. It's not a case where e.g. your lips are chapped and your knuckles are splitting, and one of the first places you look is hydration--more water, more trace minerals, etc. Instead it's a health issue where you have nothing to target, and your only real hope is to do whatever you can to improve your general health, and hope whatever the yet-to-be-discovered underlying cause is taken out by fortunate accident.

Look to the other symptoms. What other symptoms does she have? It doesn't matter whether they're considered to be related. Constipation, headaches, splitting nails, PMS, dry skin, cold extremities, dandruff, frequent colds, dizziness upon standing too quickly, acne... anything at all. Note it, target it, fix it. Keep doing this for years. Make a checklist. Anything to be considered a symptom. Notice it, treat it, move on. Do this for a long enough time, and either the fibromyalgia will go away or get better, or it won't. But at least you tried, and believe me: Her life will be better either way. Well, unless she doesn't like hard work.

Potential leads I found through a few brief Google searches:

Good luck.

Comment by Wakarimahen on [deleted post] 2013-02-28T23:29:26.387Z

Let's just delete this thread and then pretend this never happened...

Comment by wakarimahen on Politics Discussion Thread January 2013 · 2013-01-20T07:08:06.020Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

One should also distinguish between different kinds of alcohol. Unpasteurized beer or organic dry wine, for example, I imagine is way less likely to be a problem for one's health than cheap beer or wine with all sorts of additives and shortcuts with the process.

Comment by wakarimahen on Politics Discussion Thread January 2013 · 2013-01-20T06:46:08.056Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Alcohol causes temporary loss of motor control and some brain functions, and this is exactly the point. Any mistakes can be blamed on 'being drunk', and thus people are able to cast of the shackles of social inhibition, and enjoy themselves more unimpeded. Our society is rather oppressive when it comes to making mistakes or looking 'low status' in normal situations, so alcohol is the perfect way for many people to compensate, and allow themselves temporary spans of time where they're less afraid to make mistakes or look incompetent (and I would argue this general fear of making mistakes or looking incompetent is one of the main plagues in society, preventing all sorts of people from improving their lives).

Call it placebo if you want, but placebo is great if it works. Anything is great if it works.

Comment by wakarimahen on TIL in Medical School - Doctors have myths too. · 2013-01-20T06:20:23.592Z · score: -1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah. Slightly fed up is too fed up. It's never useful to be fed up, as far as I've ever seen. I've read a decent number of Yvain's posts, and he's always come off as rather immune to getting 'fed up' or 'annoyed' or anything, so I thought it was sort of out of character, and not in a good way.

Comment by wakarimahen on TIL in Medical School - Doctors have myths too. · 2013-01-20T04:55:38.451Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I've read a decent number of your posts, and it seems a bit out of character for you to generalize so heavily, and use all caps to describe everyone on LW as having a sentiment similar to, "Doctors are incredibly stupid and just by knowing about this one study I can totally outdo all of them."

I know you don't really mean it literally, but it may be worth pointing out that that sort of thing is just another one of those epistemically hazardous and unhygienic habits that should be done away with.

Comment by wakarimahen on TIL in Medical School - Doctors have myths too. · 2013-01-20T04:51:10.873Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

What, you didn't think doctors had medical myths too? Although Yvain seems to have voided your particular example, it should be pointed out that there are a ridiculous number of doctors in any first-world country, and based on what we know about the sanity waterline it seems absurd to assume anything other than, "Most of them are probably rather irrational."

Comment by wakarimahen on Outline of Possible Sources of Values · 2013-01-20T04:40:30.833Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I would define it as something like, "The course of action one would take if they had perfect knowledge." The only problem with this definition seems to be that one's utility function not only defines what would be the best course of action, but also defines what would be the second best, and third, etc.

I would say "utility function" takes all possible actions one could take at each moment, and ranks them from 'worst idea' to 'best idea'. A coherent agent would have no disagreement between these rankings from moment to moment, but agents with akrasia, such as humans in the modern environment, have utility functions that cycle back and forth in a contradictory fashion, where at one moment the best action to take is at a later time a bad choice (such as people who find staying up late reading Reddit the most fun option, but then always regret it in the morning when they have to wake up early for work).

Comment by wakarimahen on Outline of Possible Sources of Values · 2013-01-20T04:26:40.357Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Why are you referring to all of those as one's "utility function"? I thought the term "utility function" referred to one's terminal values. Your last example seems to refer to one's terminal values, but the rest are just random instances of types of reasoning leading to instrumental values.

Comment by wakarimahen on Outline of Possible Sources of Values · 2013-01-18T06:00:27.627Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

While I sympathize with you, I think you should decrease your threshold for apparent difficulty of problems.

Along with what I just posted, I should also mention that I did say these two lines:

at the most fundamental, there's nothing to the task of figuring out one's terminal values other than simply figuring out what sensory patterns are most 'enjoyable' in the most basic sort of way imaginable, on a timescale sufficiently long-term to be something one would be unlikely to refer to as 'akrasia'

It gets somewhat confusing when you factor in [...] akrasia, and other problems that make us seem less 'coherent' of agents

Those seem to suggest I wasn't being as naive as your reply seems to imply.

Comment by wakarimahen on Outline of Possible Sources of Values · 2013-01-18T05:57:47.171Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

For example, you should be able to choose between things that will make no sensory difference to you, such as the well-being of people in Xela.

This is an example of the sort of loose terminology that leads most people into the fog on these sorts of problems. If it makes no sensory difference, then it makes no sensory difference, and there's nothing to care about, as there's nothing to decide between. You can't choose between two identical things.

Or to be more charitable, I should say that what seems to have happened here is that I was using the term "sensory pattern" to refer to any and all subjective experiences appearing on one's visual field, etc., whereas you seem to be using the phrase "makes no sensory difference" to refer to the subset of subjective experience we call 'the real world'.

True, if I've never been to Xela, the well-being of the people there (presumably) makes no difference to my experience of everyday things in the outside world, such as the people I know, or what's going on in the places I do go. But this is not a problem. Mention the place, and explain the conditions in detail, employing colorful language and eloquent description, and before long there will be a video playing in my mind, apt to make me happy or sad, depending on the well-being of the people therein.

And of course you dodge the question of what is "enjoyable" - is a fistfight enjoyable if it makes you grin and your heart race but afterwards you never want to do it again?

I don't see the contradiction. Unless I'm missing something in my interpretation of your example, all that must be said is that the experience was enjoyable because certain dangers didn't play out, such as getting injured or being humiliated, but you'd rather not repeat that experience, for you may not be so lucky in the future. Plenty of things are enjoyable unless they go wrong, and are rather apt to go wrong, and thus are candidates for being something one enjoys but would rather not repeat.

For example, let's say you get lost in the moment, and have unprotected sex. You didn't have any condoms or anything, but everything else was perfect, so you went for it. You have the time of your life. After the fact you manage to put the dangers out of your mind, and just remember how excellent the experience was. Eventually it becomes clear that no STIs were transmitted, nor is there an unplanned pregnancy. The experience, because nothing went wrong, was excellent. But you decide it was a mistake.

There seems to be a contradiction here, saying that the experience was excellent, but that it was a mistake. But then you realize that the missing piece that makes it seem contradictory is the time factor. Once a certain amount of time passes, if nothing went wrong, one can say conclusively that nothing went wrong. 100% chance it was awesome and nothing went wrong. But at the time of the event, the odds were much worse. That's all.

What algorithm should an AI follow to decide?

This seems off topic. Decide what? I thought we were talking about how to discover one's terminal values as a human.

You have to try and reduce "enjoyable" to things like "things you'd do again" or "things that make your brain release chemical cocktail X." And then you have to realize that those definitions are best met by meth, or an IV of chemical cocktail X, not by cool stuff like riding dinosaurs or having great sex.

Well if that's the case then they're unhelpful definitions. As far as I can see, nothing in my post would suggest a theory weak enough to output something like 'do meth', or 'figure out how to wirehead'.

Comment by wakarimahen on Outline of Possible Sources of Values · 2013-01-18T02:44:44.357Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

When you say "values", do you mean instrumental values, or do you mean terminal values? If the former then the answer is simple. This is what we spend most of our time doing. Will tweaking my diet in this way cause me to have more energy? Will asking my friend in this particular way cause them to accept my request? Etc. This is as mundane as it gets.

If the latter, the answer is a bit more complicated, but really it shouldn't be all that confusing. As agents, we're built with motivation systems, where out of all possible sensory patterns, some present to us as neutral, others as inherently desirable, and the last subset as inherently undesirable. Some things can be more desirable or less desirable, etc., thus these sensory components each run on at least one dimension.

Sensory patterns that present originally as inherently neutral may either be left as irrelevant (these are the things put on auto-ignore, which are apt to make a return to one's conscious awareness if certain substances are taken, or if careful introspection is engaged in), or otherwise acquire a 'secondary' desirability or undesirability via being seen to be in causal connection with something that presents as inherently one way or the other, for example finding running enjoyable because of certain positive benefits acquired in the past from the activity.

Thus to discover one's terminal values, one must simply identify these inherently desirable sensory patterns, and figure out which ones would top the list as 'most desirable' (in terms of nothing other than how it strikes one's perception). A good heuristic for this would be to see what other people consider enjoyable or fun, and then try it, and see what happens, but at the same time making sure to disambiguate any identity issues from the whole thing, such as sexual hangups making one unable to enjoy something widely considered to have one of the strongest effects in terms of 'wanting to engage in this behavior because it's so great'--sexual or romantic interaction.

But at the most fundamental, there's nothing to the task of figuring out one's terminal values other than simply figuring out what sensory patterns are most 'enjoyable' in the most basic sort of way imaginable, on a timescale sufficiently long-term to be something one would be unlikely to refer to as 'akrasia'. Even someone literally physically unable to experience certain positive sensory patterns, such as someone with extremely low libido because of physiological problems, would most likely qualify as making a 'good choice' if they engage in a course of action apt to cause them to begin to be able to experience these sensory patterns, such as that person implementing a particular lifestyle protocol likely to fix their physiological issues and bring them libido to a healthy level.

It gets somewhat confusing when you factor in the fact that the sensory patterns one is able to experience can shift over time, such as libido increasing or decreasing, or going through puberty, or something like that, along with factoring in akrasia, and other problems that make us seem less 'coherent' of agents, but I believe all the fog can be cut through if one simply makes the observation that sensory patterns present to us as either neutral, inherently desirable, or inherently undesirable, and that the latter two run on a dimension of 'more or less'. Neutral sensory patterns acquire 'secondary' quality on these dimensions depending on what the agent believes to be their causal connections to other sensory patterns, each ultimately needing to run up against an 'inherently motivating' sensory pattern to acquire significance.

Comment by wakarimahen on Quantifying wisdom · 2013-01-17T07:26:29.473Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

As far as I can tell, "wisdom" is just a word that refers to the sort of knowledge that (1) defines the person being described as high status, and (2) is the result of extensive experience. When I imagine someone as "wise", I think of the person looking rather eminent, and most likely sort of old simply because long stretches of experience require long stretches of living--that is being at least somewhat old.

So we know that many smart people make stupid (at least in retrospect) decisions. What these people seem to be lacking, at least at the moment they make a poor decision, is wisdom ("judicious application of knowledge").

Many people we would label as "smart" make decisions we end up labeling "stupid". This doesn't seem very remarkable. When I think of the word "smart", what comes to mind is a comparatively high mental ability in certain subjects, or someone who's demonstrated a comparatively high likelihood of coming to interesting insights, or getting good at something requiring strong mental ability, such as chess. Someone meeting that criteria making a decision we end up calling "stupid" seems no more interesting than someone we call "athletic" getting injured.

You're saying these people--those who we would be likely to label as "smart", yet sometimes make decisions we would likely call "stupid"--what they're missing is "wisdom". This makes it sound like 'wisdom' is some sort of component they're missing, as if this insight would put us on some sort of useful quest, analogous to being told that the way by which to open this box we want to open is "to find the key, which is somewhere in this house" (a clue).

Well, I would rephrase what you're saying as the completely unremarkable observation that someone we would likely call "smart", if they were to make a series of stupid decisions, we would probably be unlikely to call them "wise". This is a fact about how we employ English words, nothing more. Part of the meaning of "wise" seems to be consistency. Someone erratic, yet "smart", we would be unlikely to refer to by the word "wise". I don't see how this observation could generate any useful hypotheses pertaining to building FAI, or anything like that. As it doesn't seem to concern anything but definitions, the only application to FAI would, as far as I can tell, be one of suggesting which FAI to call "wise", and which to not--a rather uninteresting conversation indeed.

Clearly, if one created a human-level AI, one would want it to "choose wisely".

Here I just want to point out that although you transitioned to this sentence as if it was part of your general point, it should be mentioned that although the grammar may suggest that "wisely" in "choose wisely" is a conjugation of "wisdom" or "wise", it seems to be a slightly different word. 'Choosing wisely' just seems to be choosing based on calm, rational deliberation, like in telling someone to "choose wisely" one is suggesting they not be hasty. It doesn't seem to suggest anything pertaining to extensive experience, or anything like that, as the words "wise" and "wisdom" do.

Call me pedantic, but I'm just trying to show how slippy words can be, and the sort of care that's necessary to not get sucked into shuffling around words to no real purpose.

However, as human examples show, wisdom does not come for free with intelligence

You mean calling someone "smart" doesn't mean it would be tautological to call them "wise", as in the classic example of calling someone a "bachelor" meaning it would be a tautology to call them an "unmarried man"? Yeah, that much is obvious. Wisdom seems to suggest consistency, but plenty of people we call "intelligent" are rather erratic in certain respects, to no contradiction of that label. Again, I see no interesting insight here. We're still just discussing English-language conventions.

Actually, we usually don't trust intelligent people nearly as much as we trust wise ones (or appearing to be wise, at any rate).

Yeah, because consistency is a component of the common definition of "wise". We trust people we would consider consistent more than those we wouldn't label with that word.

For example, Aaron Swartz was clearly very smart, but was it wise of him to act they way he did, gambling on one big thing after another, without a clear sense of what is likely to happen and at what odds?

Again, there is an equivocation going on with this sort of transition. Although related in meaning, and sharing the same sequence of characters, the word "wise" in the question "was it wise of him" seems to be of a different meaning than the word "wise" in referring to Aaron as a "wise elder". The question "was it wise of him" seems no more than just asking whether it was a good idea, whereas the idea of being a "wise elder" seems to be about his experience, etc. Again the definitions are just being moved around in a word shuffle that doesn't seem to be getting us anywhere.

What algorithms/decision theories make someone wiser?

I don't know, ones that make them more consistent? Or ones that signal higher social status, or allow them to react more calmly when confronted with shocking situations? As with the rest of your post, you seem to be just asking questions about definitions, or making statements about how we use certain words. I can't seem to find any real, useful content in your post. It seems like no more than an exercise in messing around with definitions, masquerading as being in some way insightful.