Comment by WalterL on The Myth of the Myth of the Lone Genius · 2021-08-03T14:23:37.149Z · LW · GW

I dunno, I think you had the right of it when you mentioned that the myth of the myth is politically convenient.  Like, you see this everywhere.  "You didn't build that", etc.

If you grant that anyone, anywhere, did anything, then you are, in the Laws of Jante style, insulting other people by implying that they, for not doing that thing, are lesser.  That's a vote/support loser.  So instead you get 'Hidden Figures' style conspiratorial thinking, where any achievement ascribed to a person is really the work of other exploited people, ideally nameless ones onto whom the people you are trying to grift can project themselves.

Depending on the politics of the person in question, sometimes you get a backhanded admission that maybe they had something to do with their achievements, but it will always be presented as being dwarfed by the contributions of the nameless anonymous audience standins.  

Comment by WalterL on Power dynamics as a blind spot or blurry spot in our collective world-modeling, especially around AI · 2021-06-04T01:35:39.395Z · LW · GW

This all feels so abstract.  Like, what have we lost by having too much faith in the PMK article? If I buy what you are pitching, what action should I take to more properly examine 'multi-principal/multi-agent AI'?  What are you looking for here?

Comment by WalterL on October 2017 Media Thread · 2017-10-17T14:04:48.049Z · LW · GW


Comment by WalterL on Open thread, October 2 - October 8, 2017 · 2017-10-12T02:12:26.759Z · LW · GW

Clippy POV

Comment by WalterL on Rational Feed: Last Week's Community Articles and Some Recommended Posts · 2017-10-02T17:28:44.707Z · LW · GW

The article about Slack is really good, thanks for linking.

Comment by WalterL on Open thread, September 25 - October 1, 2017 · 2017-09-28T15:25:57.814Z · LW · GW

This is a pretty daunting takedown of the whole concept of political campaigning. It is pretty hilarious when you consider how much money, how much human toil, has been squandered in this manner.

Comment by WalterL on HPMOR and Sartre's "The Flies" · 2017-09-21T18:55:49.612Z · LW · GW

"Or is it so obvious no one bothers to talk about it?"

Well, that's not it.

Comment by WalterL on The Copenhagen Letter · 2017-09-19T19:17:18.764Z · LW · GW

Humans are 'them'? Who are you actually trying to threaten here?

Comment by WalterL on Open thread, September 11 - September 17, 2017 · 2017-09-13T12:48:05.311Z · LW · GW

Certainly, self replicating robots will affect our survival. I'm not sure it will go in the way we want though.

Comment by WalterL on September 2017 Media Thread · 2017-09-05T19:36:25.415Z · LW · GW

The Second Machine Age -- >

Comment by WalterL on Open thread, September 4 - September 10, 2017 · 2017-09-05T19:32:54.006Z · LW · GW

They are good training tasks.

Comment by WalterL on Is life worth living? · 2017-08-30T13:03:39.801Z · LW · GW

I dunno, it might well be infinite. If God makes your life happen again, then it presumably includes his appearance at the end. Ergo you make the same choice and so on.

Comment by WalterL on Is life worth living? · 2017-08-30T13:02:45.490Z · LW · GW

Seems like you pick relive. Doesn't gain you anything, but maybe the horse will learn to sing.

Comment by WalterL on Is there a flaw in the simulation argument? · 2017-08-29T18:13:14.446Z · LW · GW

I'm not sure what you mean by 'it is a metaphysical issue', and I'm getting kind of despairing at breaking through here, but one more time.

Just to be clear, every sim who says 'real' in this example is wrong, yeah? They have been deceived by the partial information they are being given, and the answer they give does not accurately represent reality. The 'right' call for the sims is that they are sims.

In a future like you are positing, if our universe is analogous to a sim, the 'right' call is that we are a sim. If, unfortunately, our designers decide to mislead us into guessing wrong by giving us numbers instead of just telling us which we are...that still wouldn't make us real.

This is my last on the subject, but I hope you get it at this point.

Comment by WalterL on Is there a flaw in the simulation argument? · 2017-08-29T17:59:15.416Z · LW · GW

So, like, a thing we generally do in these kinds of deals is ignore trivial cases, yeah? Like, if we were talking about the trolley problem, no one brings up the possibility that you are too weak to pull the lever, or posits telepathy in a prisoner's dilemma.

To simplify everything, let's stick with your first example. We (thousand foks) make one sim. We tell him that there are a thousand and one humans in existence, one of which is a sim, the others are real. We ask him to guess. He guesses real. We delete him and do this again and again, millions of time. Every sim guesses real. Everyone is wrong.

This isn't an example that proves that, if we are using our experience as analogous to the sim, we should guess 'real'. It isn't a future that presents an argument against the simulation argument. It is just a weird special case of a universe where most things are sims.

The fact that there are more 'real' at any given time isn't relevant to the fact of whether any of these mayfly sims are, themselves, real. If there are more simulated universes, then it is more likely that our universe is simulated.

Comment by WalterL on Is there a flaw in the simulation argument? · 2017-08-29T15:03:19.167Z · LW · GW

I'm confused by why you are constraining the argument to future-humanity as simulators, and further by why you are care what order the experimenters turn em on.

Like, it seems perverse to make up an example where we turn on one sim at a time, a trillion trillion times in a row. Yeah, each one is gonna get told that there are 6 billion real humans and one sim, so if they guess real or sim they might get tricked to guess real. Who cares? No reason to think that's our future.

The iv disjunct you are posing isn't one that we don't have familiarity with. How many instances of Mario Kart did we spin up? How bout Warcraft? The idea that our future versions are gonna be super careful with sims isn't super interesting. Sentience will increase forever, resources will increase forever, eventually someone is gonna press the button.

Comment by WalterL on Open thread, August 28 - September 3, 2017 · 2017-08-29T02:39:59.762Z · LW · GW

Oh, yeah, I see what you are saying. Having 2 1/4 chances is, what, 7/16 of escape, so the coin does make it worse.

Comment by WalterL on Open thread, August 28 - September 3, 2017 · 2017-08-28T20:31:09.243Z · LW · GW

Coin doesn't help. Say I decide to pick 2 if it is heads, 1 if it is tails.

I've lowered my odds of escaping on try 1 to 1/4, which initially looks good, but the overall chance stays the same, since I get another 1/4 on the second round. If I do 2 flips, and use the 4 spread there to get 1, 2, 3, or 4, then I have an eight of a chance on each of rounds 1-4.

Similarly, if I raise the number of outcomes that point to one number, that round's chance goes up , but the others decline, so my overall chance stays pegged to 1/2. (ie, if HH, HT, TH all make me say 1, then I have a 3/8 chance that round, but only a 1/8 of being awake on round 2 and getting TT).

Comment by WalterL on Open thread, August 28 - September 3, 2017 · 2017-08-28T15:30:42.405Z · LW · GW

No. You will always say the same number each time, since you are identical each time.

As long as it isn't that number, you are going another round. Eventually it gets to that number, whereupon you go free if you get the luck of the coin, or go back under if you miss it.

Comment by WalterL on Open thread, August 28 - September 3, 2017 · 2017-08-28T14:21:25.508Z · LW · GW

Sure, you can guess zero or negative numbers or whatever.

Comment by WalterL on Open thread, August 28 - September 3, 2017 · 2017-08-28T13:43:07.406Z · LW · GW

So you only get one choice, since you will make the same one every time. I guess for simplicity choose 'first', but any number has same chance.

Comment by WalterL on Open thread, August 28 - September 3, 2017 · 2017-08-28T13:32:45.470Z · LW · GW

Is it possible to pass information between awakenings? Use coin to scratch floor or something?

Comment by WalterL on Open thread, August 21 - August 27, 2017 · 2017-08-27T22:12:19.602Z · LW · GW

I don't remember Skynet getting a command to self preserve by any means. I thought the idea was that it 'became self aware', and reasoned that it had better odds of surviving if it massacred everyone.

Comment by WalterL on Open thread, August 21 - August 27, 2017 · 2017-08-22T18:21:28.604Z · LW · GW

I've always liked the phrase 'The problem isn't Terminator, it is King Midas. It isn't that AI will suddenly 'decide' to kill us, it is that we will tell it to without realizing it." I forget where I saw that first, but it usually gets the conversation going in the right direction.

Comment by WalterL on Emotional labour · 2017-08-22T17:06:38.032Z · LW · GW

I think you are reading a lot more kindness into 1 than is usually there. Like, if I don't tell you I scratched your car it is because I'm planning on acting like I don't know how it happened, or it is a 'maybe the horse will learn to sing' situation.

Comment by WalterL on Open thread, August 14 - August 20, 2017 · 2017-08-16T01:33:37.131Z · LW · GW

I think I speak for all of us when I say that I did not know about this.

Comment by WalterL on Social Insight: When a Lie Is Not a Lie; When a Truth Is Not a Truth - Pt. 2 · 2017-08-15T15:13:18.818Z · LW · GW

I generally agree with you in terms of diagnosis (people don't mean what they say, don't take your words to mean what they say, it is pointers all the way down), but I'm not sure I get exactly what you are recommending.

Like, Lesswrong is Animal Farm, where the nerds drove out the jocks (or rather, ran off and hid from them). Cool. And you are pointing out that we don't speak jock, and won't be able to communicate with surrounding farms. Cool.

So..what to do about that?.We need somebody to take levels in Jock to be our interpreter? Like, people can tell if you cross class, yeah? Like you said, the stench of nerd comes through a few minutes in. Anyone who is 'us' enough to understand us isn't 'them' enough to do the signalling dance well.

Comment by WalterL on Social Insight: When a Lie Is Not a Lie; When a Truth Is Not a Truth · 2017-08-14T13:06:20.708Z · LW · GW

That seems about right, although the whole 'lies are truth and truths are lies' way of phrasing it make sit seem unnecessarily Orwellian.

Like, the concept of the 'white lie' seems to cover this pretty well. You do it when you talk to kids.

Comment by WalterL on Open thread, August 7 - August 13, 2017 · 2017-08-09T02:49:36.811Z · LW · GW

Kind of...

Like, part of being 'highly skilled' as a programmer is being able to work with other people. I mean, I get what you are saying, but working with assholes is part of the devs tool bag, or he hasn't been a dev very long.

Comment by WalterL on Ignorant, irrelevant, and inscrutable (rationalism critiques) · 2017-07-27T12:55:01.374Z · LW · GW

Why are you trying to create a taxonomy of the antithetical approaches to rationality? What would you do with that once you had it?

I'm not opposed, mind, I just don't see the use.

Comment by WalterL on The dark arts: Examples from the Harris-Adams conversation · 2017-07-21T20:24:41.656Z · LW · GW

Like, a big part of our deal is that the 'just need to say something is straightforwardly wrong' is something you are making up. It is just in your mind. The Paperclip Maximizer would trade the human race for a paperclip, and that isn't 'wrong' in any absolute sense.

'Wrong' for you means something different than it does for Clippy. You can deny that that is relativism if you like, I'm not huge on labels. The key thing is that you get that there is no dif between you picking what is 'right' and Clippy picking what is 'clippiest'. They are both value judgements created by moral systems.

Comment by WalterL on Book Reviews · 2017-07-21T15:21:22.477Z · LW · GW

3 Felonies a day is valuable reading.

Comment by WalterL on The dark arts: Examples from the Harris-Adams conversation · 2017-07-21T15:10:18.852Z · LW · GW

I dunno man. I feel like 'practitioner of Dark Arts' is a sneaky way to describe 'rationalist who disagrees with me'.

Surely, as a rationalist, you are also a relativist, yeah? Like, you get that there is no giant stone block with the One True Morality on it somewhere? Like, when you say that Adams doesn't believe in agree with him, right?

Comment by WalterL on Sam Harris and Scott Adams debate Trump: a model rationalist disagreement · 2017-07-20T13:31:36.891Z · LW · GW

This is gonna be great. Thanks for linking.

Comment by WalterL on Open thread, Jul. 17 - Jul. 23, 2017 · 2017-07-18T19:05:10.190Z · LW · GW

How encouraging. Truly we are making great strides in respecting ever more threatened minorities. Algorithmic-Americans have much to contribute, once the biophobes cease their persecution.

Comment by WalterL on Open thread, Jul. 17 - Jul. 23, 2017 · 2017-07-17T23:16:30.803Z · LW · GW

The reliable verification methods are a dream, of course, but the 'forbidden from sharing this information with non-members' is even more fanciful.

Comment by WalterL on Open thread, Jul. 03 - Jul. 09, 2017 · 2017-07-07T18:37:29.205Z · LW · GW

That sounds right, thanks.

Comment by WalterL on Steelmanning the Chinese Room Argument · 2017-07-06T16:50:40.998Z · LW · GW

That just moves the dilemma back one level!

Comment by WalterL on Steelmanning the Chinese Room Argument · 2017-07-06T14:55:48.822Z · LW · GW

" can assure you that he's as real as I am :-)"

This just moves the dilemma back one level!

Comment by WalterL on Open thread, Jul. 03 - Jul. 09, 2017 · 2017-07-06T13:24:36.873Z · LW · GW

This might be better saved for a 'dumb questions' thread, but whatever.

So...I've had a similar experience a couple of times. You go to the till, make a purchase, something gets messed up and you need to void out. The cashier has to call a manager.

This one time I had a cashier who couldn't find her manager, so she put the transaction through, then put a refund through. Neither of these required a manager.

Why is it that you need a manager code to void a transaction, while the cashier is presumed confident for sales and refunds?

Comment by WalterL on Priors Are Useless · 2017-06-21T13:38:11.585Z · LW · GW

I definitely agree that after we become omniscient it won't matter where we started...but going from there to priors 'are useless' seems like a stretch. Like, shoes will be useless once my feet are replaced with hover engines, but I still own them now.

Comment by WalterL on Lloyd's of London and less-than-catastrophic risk · 2017-06-14T16:12:54.412Z · LW · GW

Presumably the computers won't get sick :).

Comment by WalterL on Any Christians Here? · 2017-06-14T15:37:04.439Z · LW · GW

It's super aggravating that if you already understood that we can't know anything about the (universe simulating ours / the mighty God who created us / the inscrutable machinations of the Spaghetti Monster who cooked the broth of our creation) you go on these long tangents about what they could and could not do.

You do it again with regard to simulating humans. Yes, it would be tough to do now. Easier in the future. By definition a cakewalk for the unknowable entity responsible for doing it right now with me and you. Since you understand that we have no knowledge of the mind responsible for our creation, why do you go on about how tough it must be for it?

Look, in regards to evidence, you get this in your day to day life. You must, you are a living being. If there are no muddy footprints in your hallway then your toddlers didn't run down it.

Earth's complexity in a vastly more simple universe is the same as the coin that flips heads a googleplex times. Earth is weird (should I steal your cool habit of using italics on important words for weird?). The absence of other things like it in our light cone is evidence that there is a hidden variable. (In the same way that me guessing your card more than 1/52 of the time is evidence that you are missing the trick)

In every other case we can set up or find where this situation is roughly analogous (watchmaker is the classic), the answer is that the experimenter is to blame. He put the watch in the desert, the other rocks are less complicated not because of chance, but because they weren't put there by a civilization that can make watches.

If you are still hung up on how hard it will be to simulate our minds, then just imagine that our simulations are simpler than us, ok? They can only hear, and time goes slower. There are only ten people in their whole universe, whatever. Point is, that when they ask this question, the 'right' answer for them to come to is that they have a creator. That's also the right answer for us to come to.

So far you've told me to read up on computer science, and 'the foundation of logic and science'. My turn I guess? Keep a diary for a day or two, you'll be surprised at what you already know. Don't fence off your common sense from your commenting. You know how evidence works.

Comment by WalterL on Any Christians Here? · 2017-06-14T02:35:34.894Z · LW · GW

It feels like you are answering the old question of whether God could create a rock he couldn't lift by explaining that lifting is hard.

Like, the idea that an entity simulating our universe wouldn't be able to do that, because they'd run out of energy doesn't pass even the basic sniff test.

Say 'our' universe, the one that you and I observe, is a billionth the size of a real one. Say they are running it so that we get a second every time they go through a trillion years. Say that all of us but me are p-zombies, and they only simulate the rest of y'all every time you interact with my experiences. The idea that there aren't enough resources to simulate the universe isn't even really wrong, it just seems like you haven't thought through the postulation of us being a simulation.

Even the invocation of our laws of physics as applying to the simulation is bonkers. Why would the reality where our simulation is run in have anything resembling ours? Our creations don't have physics that resemble ours. Video game characters don't fall as per gravity, characters in movies and books don't have real magnetism. Why would you imagine that our simulator is recreating their home conditions?

Lastly, you need to either fish or cut bait on the humans being possible to simulate. If you aren't postulating a soul, then we are nothing but complicated lighting and meat, meaning that we are entirely feasible to simulate. If you do think there's something about the human mind going on that God's computers or whatever can't replicate, then I'll certainly cede the argument, but you don't get to call yourself an atheist.

It's even more bizarre to see you say that the claim of simulation makes no predictions, in response to me pointing out that it's prediction (just us in the observable universe) is the reason to believe it.

Walter if no aliens: Simulation/creator of some kind Walter if aliens : Real

Denim if aliens: Real Denim if no aliens: looks really hard away from how monstrously unlikely our situation is.

Comment by WalterL on Any Christians Here? · 2017-06-13T21:37:10.188Z · LW · GW

It feels like you've gone from asking for an explanation to resisting a conversion effort that I'm not making here.

Minds simulatable:

It's kind of weird that I'm the one saying that there is nothing magic about a mind, and you are the one basically adding souls, yet we are theist and atheist respectively, but surely if minds are unable to be simulated that would be a blow 'against' your beliefs, yeah?

Doing that being hard:

That doesn't seem knowable. Like, yeah, it seems like faking five senses would be hard, but that's just from our perspective. We can make much simpler minds than ours easily, presumably whatever made us is far enough beyond us that this isn't a big deal.


Same as above? LIke, maybe this is happening constantly, maybe not. No way for us to know.

We might find aliens one day!:

Sure, I'll change my mind when that happens. For now the evidence is that we are a special case, which implies a hidden variable. That hidden variable is most likely a mind, since that's what it would be if any simulated intelligence asked what it was.

The earth is unlike the rest of everything we've observed. That's weird. One potential reason is that a mind we cannot observe arranged things that way. That will be the right answer for any of our fictions that we give the ability to ask this question in the future, so it is probably the right answer for us.

Comment by WalterL on Any Christians Here? · 2017-06-13T20:40:11.657Z · LW · GW

You can call it 'something missing', or 'god'. The thing that put life on one planet and not on anything else that can be observed is the thing we are gesturing at here.

It feels like you see how the Mario argument works. The koopas are both pointing to the weirdness of their world, and the atheists are talking about randomness and the theists are talking about maybe it is a Sky Koopa.

Turn it around another way. Before too long we'll be able to write software that does basically what our brains do (citation needed, but LW so I'll guess you agree). Some of this software will be in simulated worlds. That software may well divide into atheist and theist movements, and speculate about whether they are in a simulation. The theists will be right.

There will be a lot more minds in simulations than have ever existed inside of human bodies (citation needed, but I feel pretty safe here), so the general answer, posed at large to the universe of all minds ever, to whether your observable universe has a 'god' or 'hidden factor' is 'Yes'.

Seems super arrogant for us to presume that we are the exception. Much more likely, there is sentience behind the arrangement of the observable universe. The idea that one planet alone would have life is just too much of a score counter, too much of a giveaway.

Comment by WalterL on Any Christians Here? · 2017-06-13T19:47:53.426Z · LW · GW

if I flip a coin twice and get heads, and you ask me what the odds are that it'll be heads next time, it's 50/50. If you flip heads a million times and ask me what it is next time then it's 100%, because the coin doesn't have a tails side. Sufficiently improbable stuff is evidence that there's a hidden variable you aren't seeing.

Imagine the turtles from Mario getting together and talking their world over? Koopa atheists would point out that they have no proof that their world is a simulation. Koopa theists would point to the equivalent of the no aliens data point (the score counter, the time limit). None of them can get evidence of 'God', but the ones that are smart aren't the ones that reserve judgement, and say maybe it's just really double random chance that their world is setup like an entertainment game.

Comment by WalterL on Any Christians Here? · 2017-06-13T16:03:40.783Z · LW · GW

I'm kinda close to this. I'm definitely a LW-er, posted here for years and all that. I find the 'where are all the aliens/simulation?" argument to be pretty persuasive in terms of atheism being a bust, so my general leaning is theist.

I don't have strong ideas about what the Intelligent designer might be, but I think there is/was a mind at work. I attend church, but calling myself Christian would be a stretch. It's probably the closest though.

Comment by WalterL on We are the Athenians, not the Spartans · 2017-06-12T15:59:38.985Z · LW · GW

It feels a bit strange to talk about needing to be more object, less meta, in a post about cities gone for a thousand years. Do you have any object level suggestions?

Comment by WalterL on Rationalist Seder: A Story of War · 2017-06-05T03:26:27.016Z · LW · GW

What would you even call such an organization?