Comment by wizzwizz4 on Are coincidences clues about missed disasters? It depends on your answer to the Sleeping Beauty Problem. · 2021-07-06T13:42:21.788Z · LW · GW

I don't quite get the argument here; doesn't anthropic shadow imply we have nothing to worry about (except for maybe hyperexistential risks) since we're guaranteed to be living in a timeline where humanity survives in the end?

But it doesn't say we're guaranteed not to be living in a timeline where humanity doesn't survive.

If I had a universe copying machine and a doomsday machine, pressed the “universe copy” button 1000 times (for 2¹⁰⁰⁰ universes), then smashed relativistic meteors into Earth in all but one of them… would you call that an ethical issue? I certainly would, even though the inhabitants of the original universe are guaranteed to be living in a timeline where they don't die horribly from a volcanic apocalypse.

Comment by wizzwizz4 on Self-Keeping Secrets · 2021-06-18T12:37:19.409Z · LW · GW

I can't remember pain, in much the same way. Perhaps extreme depression “counts as” mental pain enough to trigger this effect?

Comment by wizzwizz4 on Taking the awkwardness out of a Prenup - A Game Theoretic solution · 2021-06-10T19:39:38.426Z · LW · GW

Write “half”, or (if you're feeling pedantic), “~half”.

Comment by wizzwizz4 on The Copernican Revolution from the Inside · 2020-07-27T13:44:53.179Z · LW · GW

Bayesian inference only functions within known solution-space. Spotting things outside of known solution space, while rare, is essential for the progression of science – and can't be modelled simply as Bayesian inference.

Comment by wizzwizz4 on Mundane Magic · 2020-07-22T12:48:21.755Z · LW · GW

Did anyone point out that the 3DS has a camera title?

Comment by wizzwizz4 on Mundane Magic · 2020-07-22T11:43:48.250Z · LW · GW

Communication transfers ideas from one person to another. If technically correct communication transfers false ideas, it is deception. Accurate communication transfers correct ideas with high fidelity, which isn't necessarily equivalent to technically correct communication.

Comment by wizzwizz4 on Can an agent use interactive proofs to check the alignment of succesors? · 2020-07-18T15:24:04.141Z · LW · GW

I can confirm that that's an expression in English.

Comment by wizzwizz4 on Magic Brain Juice · 2020-07-12T12:33:49.841Z · LW · GW

but it's hard to hear the story and imagine that that grandpa is an old timey european, talking about good wolves.

That is what I thought. Not "old timey" per se, but modern grandparent age. The story feels five to ten years old, to me.

Comment by wizzwizz4 on Covid 7/9: Lies, Damn Lies and Death Rates · 2020-07-10T15:05:36.606Z · LW · GW

or so as not to confuse the public with changed numbers

If you're withholding knowledge to avoid confusing people, chances are that your withholding is the primary source of confusion. Just say "new estimates" or "revised estimates" – job done.

Comment by wizzwizz4 on Are Your Enemies Innately Evil? · 2020-07-09T15:20:42.803Z · LW · GW

What could survive is a propensity to become the sort of person to sacrifice yourself to protect your family. given that no other family member has done so. Or, a propensity to sacrifice yourself that would normally kick in after you've had kids. But actually sacrificing yourself before you pass on your genes is a textbook example of "selected against".

Comment by wizzwizz4 on (answered: yes) Has anyone written up a consideration of Downs's "Paradox of Voting" from the perspective of MIRI-ish decision theories (UDT, FDT, or even just EDT)? · 2020-07-07T17:49:26.060Z · LW · GW

I think it's just reachability. Arbital is Far Away, and it's plausible that not everyone even knows it exists.

Comment by wizzwizz4 on Yes, Virginia, You Can Be 99.99% (Or More!) Certain That 53 Is Prime · 2020-07-04T19:33:55.567Z · LW · GW

A second, detailed reading might make it seem like this comment's has an error. However, the reasoning is sound; "you said the coin was heads" doesn't distinguish very well between "the coin was heads" and "the coin was tails but you lied about the bet", so doesn't provide much evidence.

Likewise, the dismissing of hearsay appears to be an error, but remember that humans have finite computational power. If you take into account (at least) the hypothesis that somebody's trying to deceive you about reality, you effectively end up dismissing the evidence anyway – but then you need to keep track of an extra hypothesis for the rest of your life to avoid scatterings of hearsay consistently nudging up your probability estimate when that's not really founded. (This is assuming that it's cheap to manufacture hearsay; expensive-to-manufacture hearsay shouldn't be dismissed so lightly.)

Comment by wizzwizz4 on The Strangest Thing An AI Could Tell You · 2020-07-04T12:52:24.351Z · LW · GW

I had to think about this for quite a while before I could refute it. Well done.

Comment by wizzwizz4 on The Strangest Thing An AI Could Tell You · 2020-07-04T12:38:03.775Z · LW · GW

So, the universe is bleen?

Comment by wizzwizz4 on The Super Happy People (3/8) · 2020-07-03T21:50:32.202Z · LW · GW

If you happen to have evolved a cognitive architecture that permits storing information about the state of the world in the same format as information about how to build new members of the species, transferring that information would grant an evolutionary advantage over not. The only "just so" assumption is in such a cognitive architecture having developed, but they're allowed that assumption given that the Super Happies already exist.

Comment by wizzwizz4 on Harry Potter and methods of rationality alternative ending. · 2020-07-03T13:47:19.991Z · LW · GW

Yes, it was something Yudkowsky added. But the text doesn't imply ghosts aren't "really people"; it just states that they're read-only human simulations of unknown fidelity, and the characters are chauvinistic about that.

Comment by wizzwizz4 on Harry Potter and methods of rationality alternative ending. · 2020-07-02T18:41:58.988Z · LW · GW
Implying that ghosts aren't really people

Or were just exempted from protection from the Interdict of Merlin, like books.

Comment by wizzwizz4 on How to decide to get a nosejob or not? · 2020-07-02T17:59:56.809Z · LW · GW

You should also take into account what this signals to people who know you've had a nose job (e.g. vanity).

Comment by wizzwizz4 on [META] Building a rationalist communication system to avoid censorship · 2020-06-24T13:22:26.480Z · LW · GW

They look like it, but its some sort of emergent behaviour,

I agree with this assessment. It almost feels like a hive mind; I've dipped into the peripherals of online mobs before, and have felt "hey, this action is a good idea" thoughts enter my head unbidden. I'd probably participate in such things often, if I didn't have a set of heuristics that (coincidentally) cancels out most of this effect, and a desire not to associate with the sorts of people who form mobs.

If the barrier-to-entry is increased to "requires two minutes of unrewarded drudgery, where it's not intuitively obvious what needs to be done" in such a way that a short, well-worded "mob instruction" message can't bypass the effect, it's unlikely a mob will form around such actions.

Incidentally, I wonder whether programming for the mob is a field of social psychology.

Comment by wizzwizz4 on Results of $1,000 Oracle contest! · 2020-06-19T14:11:13.871Z · LW · GW

How can a swarm of nuclear asbestos superintelligent nanobots be synthesised using common household items? (The rhetoric in the answer will keep your guard down for just long enough to publish it.)

Comment by wizzwizz4 on Wrong Questions · 2020-06-13T11:16:44.988Z · LW · GW
The free will comes from this other realm.

And what if we end up being able to predict what goes on in this "other realm"? This just pushes the problem back behind the curtain, instead of confronting it.

Comment by wizzwizz4 on Failed Utopia #4-2 · 2020-06-11T20:59:19.425Z · LW · GW
How much have you read about the idea from its proponents?

Loads from angry mean people on the internet, very little from academics (none, if reading the Wikipedia article doesn't count). So I'm probably trying to learn anarchocommunism from Stalin. (I haven't heard much about it from its detractors, either, except what I've generated myself – I stopped reading the Wikipedia article before I got to the "criticism" section, and have only just read that now.)

In case this is the reason for disagreement, I might be criticising "autogynephilia / autoandrophilia explains (away) trans people" instead of what you're talking about – although since the Wikipedia article keeps saying stuff like:

Blanchard states that he intended the term to subsume transvestism, including for sexual ideas in which feminine clothing plays only a small or no role at all.

(the implication being that cross-dressing is a sex thing, which is just… not accurate – though perhaps I'm misunderstanding what "transvestite" means), I'm suspicious. Pretty much all of the little I've read of Blanchard's is wrong, and while other people might've done good work with the ideas, it's hard to derive truth from falsehood. And stuff like:

Blanchard and Lawrence state that autogynephiles who report attraction to men are actually experiencing "pseudobisexuality"

seems very Freudian (in the bad sense, not the good sense); if you're constructing a really complex model to fit the available evidence, I don't want to hear you drawing conclusions about inaccessible things from it. And I especially don't want to hear you trying to fit the territory to the map…

[Julia Serano] criticised proponents of the typology, claiming that they dismiss non-autogynephilic, non-androphilic transsexuals as misreporting or lying while not questioning androphilic transsexuals, describing it as "tantamount to hand-picking which evidence counts and which does not based upon how well it conforms to the model", either making the typology unscientific due to its unfalsifiability, or invalid due to the nondeterministic correlation that later studies found.

Yeah, the label "autogynephilia" probably applies to a few people, but as an explanation of trans people it's not quite right – and the field of study is irrecoverably flawed imo. (And for describing trans people, the simple forms don't fit reality and the more complex forms are not the simplest explanations.)

But this criticism might merely be motivated by the actions of its proponents; if there's a consistent, simple version of the theory that doesn't obviously contradict reality, I'm happy to hear it.


Note: I've tried to edit this section for brevity, but feel free to skip it. I removed many allusions to flawed psychoanalysis concepts, but if you like, you can imagine them after pretty much every paragraph where I point out something stupid. Translate "you" as "one".

I'm not so sure about the paper you linked…

Biologic males with transsexualism, referred to as male-to-female (MtF) transsexuals, significantly outnumber their female-to-male (FtM) counterparts

No citation, and I'm pretty sure this is false. I've seen "more trans men" and "no significant difference" – with references to studies and surveys – but this is the first time I've ever seen "significantly more MtFs".

From what I can tell, it's dividing trans women into "straight" and "gay" (actually, homosexual and nonhomosexual, respectively, sic), and calling these categories fundamental subtypes. Now, I'm no expert, but I'm pretty sure not everyone is either straight or gay.

The left-hand side of the second page seems to just be a long list of appeals to authority. Appeal to the authority of the DSM. Appeal to the authority of "looking at lots of evidence before coming to a conclusion". I've also noticed enough typos that I suspect this hasn't been peer-reviewed.

Androphilic MtF transsexuals were extremely feminine androphilic men whose cross-gender identities derived from their female-typical attitudes, behaviors, and sexual preferences.

What's a "female-typical sexual preference"? How are "female-typical attitudes [and] behaviors" determined? Are these properties possessed by {a group of cis lesbians selected in a similar way}? If the effects noticed are real, then that does suggest there's something there – but at present, I don't see the difference between this and what's described in The Control Group is Out of Control part IV.

Even if I take the claims at face value (which I'm not – but I might ought to; I don't know), the paper so far is providing only slightly more evidence for "autogynephilia explains trans women" as for "autogynephilia is based in 70s-era attitudes to homosexuality".

This latter finding sug-gested that bisexual MtF transsexuals’ “interest in male sexual partners is mediated by a particularly strong desire to have their physical attractiveness as women validated by others”

There are many other things this could suggest! Why choose this one‽ I actually went back to the Blanchard paper (doi:10.1097/00005053-198910000-00004) to check the actual evidence:

This was the finding that bisexual subjects are more likely than all others to report sexual stimulation from the fantasy of being admired, in the female persona, by another person.

Immediately, I think of two alternative hypotheses:

  • People in the bisexual group are more horny than people in the other groups.
    • Bisexual people are inherently more horny (doubtful, but possible).
      • The people Blanchard considered as bisexual are inherently more horny (except I don't think Blanchard was responsible for dividing people up in this study).
    • People who are attracted to multiple disparate sex characteristics are more likely to call themselves "bisexual" if this attraction is stronger.
    • Something weird about 1989 (this is too broad to be a hypothesis).
      • People being closeted messing up the study.
  • Something about the question prompted this difference. (I can't check this, because I can't find the text of the questionnaire.)
    • Perhaps it said "by a male or a female", or something, which might produce a different average reaction across the different groups?

There are probably many others, but… would the hypothesis that "their bisexuality is just homosexuality plus a desire for validation by others" have been promoted so quickly if there wasn't a framework for it to fit into?

In each of these studies, however, many ostensibly androphilic MtF persons reported experiencing autogynephilia, whereas many ostensibly nonandrophilic persons denied experienc-ing it. How could Blanchard’s theory account for these deviations from its predictions?

I'll just note that this "deviation" is adequately predicted by the "trans people are just trans, and are likely to be aroused by the same sorts of things as cis people" hypothesis.

Blanchard, Racansky, and Steiner (1986) measured changes in penile blood volume

Oh, come on! People can get erections at all sorts of random times, including when relaxed or excited – this test (doi:10.1080/00224498609551326) does not distinguish between "sexual arousal" and "strong emotional reaction".

And any theory that assumes "and the participants are lying – or else don't know what they really think" loses points in my book.

Moreover, Blanchard, Clemmensen, and Steiner(1985) reported that in nonandrophilic men with gender dysphoria, a tendency to describe oneself in a socially desirable way was correlated with a tendency to deny sexual arousal with cross-dressing, suggesting an explanation for the under reporting of autogynephilic arousal.

… That's not an explanation, that's an observation. "Sexual arousal with cross-dressing" was not socially desirable in 1985. (If there's strong evidence, why is weak evidence being put forward? This feels a little like mathematician-trolling.) And it doesn't distinguish between autogynephilia and other hypotheses.

Walworth (1997) reported that 13% of 52 MtF transsexuals she surveyed admitted having lied to or misled their therapists about sexual arousal while wearing women’s clothing.

Regains some points for the "lying" thing, but not all of them; the "trans people are trans" theory also predicts attempts to manipulate gatekeepers by playing to favourable stereotypes, whereas the explanation later in this paper still smells of Freudian repression.

Incidentally, "trans people are trans" doesn't predict that such people would lie about this sort of thing off the record, or with friends (unlike the theory set out in this paper), but I don't know of a way to test that.

It is likely that, depending on the criteria of access to treatment in a specific treatment facility, applicants adjust their biographical data with regard to sexuality. This makes the quality of the information, especially when given during clinical assessment,questionable. (p.507)


Cohen-Kettenis and Pfäfflin even proposed that resistance to the concept of autogynephilia might itself be responsible for some of the unreliability in the reporting of sexual orientation

Perhaps, but not significantly. There is resistance to the idea, but I doubt it's on most people's minds much of the time – the few who obsess over it I've had the displeasure of interacting with aren't trans. Avoiding stigma seems a more likely explanation, to me. (And "people don't like my theory, which is why the data doesn't match it" is a really fishy explanation.)

Some cases of MtF transsexualis mare associated with and plausibly attributable to other comorbid psychiatric disorders, especially psychotic conditions such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder

Skipping past this entire section as irrelevant.

When Blanchard first introduced the term autogynephilia, he described it as not merely an erotic propensity but as a genuine sexual orientation, theorizing that “all gender dysphoric males who are not sexually oriented toward men are instead sexually oriented toward the thought or image of themselves as women” (Blanchard,1989a,pp.322–323).

More 70s-era attitudes to homosexuality. A trans woman being straight is normal, but a trans woman being gay? Needs to be psychoanalysed. Even accepting the premise, this attitude will classify as "autogynephilic" people who aren't.

(And this is only compatible with such attitudes to homosexuality – and the total erasure of bisexuals. Why posit two different mechanisms for people being trans, based on their sexuality, if homosexuality is sometimes "normal"? Why not assume homosexuality is always normal – or, at least, no less abnormal than heterosexuality?)

For autogynephilic MtF transsexuals, this implies the potential to feel continuing attraction to and comfort from autogynephilic fantasies and enactments that may have lost much of their initial erotic charge.

Explains too much. If I feel affection for the idea of being, say, a respected physicist, does that mean it used to be an erotically-charged fantasy? Or is it just something I'd prefer to the status quo? (This is the weakest argument in my rebuttal, but I think it could be strengthened.)

It is therefore feasible that the continuing desire to have a female body, after the disappearance of sexual response to that thought, has some analog in the permanent love-bond that may remain between two people after their initial strong sexual attraction has largely disappeared.

So why not apply this argument consistently, and consider it feasible that all similarly-shaped psychological events or patterns could be analogous? Like, say, the continuing drive to excel in a…

Hang on. I've started engaging with the premise. Most of my anecdotal evidence and personal experience directly contradicts this premise. I feel like I'm patiently arguing with a flat-earther about how the Bible doesn't actually say the planet is a disc, which is hard to prove without Biblical Hebrew and knowledge of Biblical hermeneutics… and utterly irrelevant to the question of the planet's shape.


Autogynephilia appears to give rise to the desire for sex reassignment gradually and indirectly, however, through the creation of cross-gender identities that are eventually associated with gender dysphoria and then provide most of the proximate motivation for the pursuit of sex reassign-ment.

Predicts the non-existence of:

  • Pre-pubescent trans children;
  • Asexual trans people;
  • No-op trans people;
  • Trans men (without the autoandrophilia extension);
  • Non-binary people.
Again, we have factual evidence indicative of the considerable time required for the development of the cross-gender identity.

Or the existence of a "closet".

In a study of 422 MtF transsexuals, Blanchard, Dickey,and Jones (1995) found that androphilic MtFs were signifi-cantly shorter than nontranssexual males and significantly shorter and lighter in weight than nonandrophilic MtFs,with the latter comparisons showing small-to-medium effect sizes.

Irrelevant, unless you're proposing that this is an intersex-related condition.

Smith et al. did observe, however, that androphilic MtFs had a more feminine appearance than nonandrophilic MtFs.

The fact that this was deemed relevant is characteristic of this theory's proponents. (Oh, snap!)

Androphilic MtFs also report more childhood cross-gender behavior than their nonandrophilic counterparts(Blanchard,1988; Money & Gaskin,1970–1971; Whitam,1987).

At least compare to cis lesbians, or you're not even trying to rule out confounders.

The review of the available data seems to support two existing hypotheses: (1) a brain-restricted intersexuality in homosexual MtFs and FtMs and(2) Blanchard’s insight on the existence of two brain phenotypes that differentiate “homosexual” [androphilic] and“nonhomosexual” [nonandrophilic] MtFs. (p.1643)

Interesting… This is the first genuinely interesting thing in this paper. But, again, compare to cis gay people instead of just to "average cis", or you can't be confident you're measuring what you think you are.

Clinicians who recognize that the gender dysphoria of autogynephilic MtFs derives from their paraphilic sexual orientation can more easily understand why these clients “are likely to feel a powerful drive to enact their paraphilic desires (e.g., by undergoing sex reassignment), sometimes with little concern for possible consequences”(Lawrence,2009,p.198), which can include loss of employment, family, friends, and reputation.

“Sometimes with little concern for possible consequences”… ? I am left speechless; the only sentiment I can verbalise is: made up – doesn't match my observations.

I predict that this worsens clinical outcomes. This is a strong, strong prediction – my entire reason for believing what I believe says my belief should depend on this. Show me the data, if you have it.

The concept of autogynephilic interpersonal fantasy can help make sense of the otherwise puzzling fact that gynephilic MtFs sometimes develop a new found interest in male partners late in life.

It's. Not. Puzzling. And not really something you should be fixated over; this is normal human behaviour.

Many of the substantive criticisms of autogynephilia, however, can be presented andexamined in a concise manner.
3. Blanchard’s autogynephilia-based typology is descrip-tively inadequate: There are too many observed exceptions to its predictions.

My main criticism here is closer to 3, if anything. (7 is a concern, but shouldn't stand in the way of research; just in the way of stuff like Bailey's book. Discover truth, and figure out the consequences later, unless you're messing with world-ending threats where the knowledge in the wrong hands could doom everybody.)

In the opinion of the critics, there are simply too many deviations from the predicted relationship between autogynephilia and sexual orientation.

Woah, woah, woah. Is that a strawman? *reads further* No, just them not addressing my specific criticism, which is that there are too many deviations from the class of people autogynephilia assumes to exist and the class of people who exist.

Opponents of Blanchard’s theory have replied that such counterarguments effectively make Blanchard’s typology “unfalsifiable” (Winters,2008,para.6), because any departures from the theory’s predictions can simply be dismissed as attributable to misreporting, measurement errors, sampling problems, or psychiatric comorbidity. As Lawrence (2010a) noted, however, Blanchard’s typology is not in principle unfalsifiable

This is a good criticism, and a good response: it isn't, in principle, unfalsifiable… it's just that its proponents are good at arguing against the evidence against it. (I, likewise, am good at arguing against things – though not quite as good, because I don't know much about frequentist statistics.)

But as measurable clinical phenomena, these entities are not statistically independent in MtF transsexuals.

"Confounders," I cry.

Reading this paper has slightly increased my credence in the idea of autogynephilia, though not by much at all, and convinced me that most of its proponents – not just Blanchard – are stuck in the 70s when it comes to ideas about sexuality and gender. I expect the next generation to drop this direction of study – perhaps in a century, when it's nearly forgotten, somebody will spot similar patterns, come up with a similar core idea, come to less stupid conclusions about it, and it'll be embraced.

Or perhaps the whole thing will turn out to be statistical anomalies perpetuated by people insistent on labelling shadows.

Edit +1d: my credence in autogynephilia has gone back down again; reading the paper in detail and engaging with its premises accidentally screened off an entire class of conflicting observations and experiences from my attention; when I remembered them, my credence immediately fell.

My sympathy for its serious proponents has gone up, though, because I (think I) see them making the same mistakes that I used to make, and undoubtedly still make: every experiment tries to confirm their theory, never falsify it, and they only measure the class of things that they know already accords with the framework of ideas.


I don't agree that the autogynephilia theory is unfalsifiable.

I can't see how some of the "strongest predictions" in that link follow. Take, for instance,

Autogynephilia in trans women is strongly negatively associated with exclusive attraction to men and femininity.

Where does this come from? And:

Autogynephilia is strongly associated with desire to be female.

But from my observations, desire to be female (in trans women, anyway) is not strongly associated with any particular aspect of sexuality; there are even plenty of ace trans women, which should be a blow for the "trans women are actually autogynephilic men" theory.

You're the first autogynephilia proponent I've interacted with who cares about being right (not that I've been seeking such people out); I'd be interested in double-cruxing at some point if you're interested. (Not here, though; somewhere with real-time communication.)

Also, I weirdly respect you more, in a way, even though I'm confident you're wrong. Perhaps it's because you being right nearly all the time is more impressive.

Comment by wizzwizz4 on Failed Utopia #4-2 · 2020-06-10T21:12:18.441Z · LW · GW

I was with you until "paraphilia". I don't see how "wanting to see a world without strict gender roles" has anything to do with sexuality… and did you seriously just link to the Wikipedia article for autogynephilia‽ That's as verifiable as penis envy. (By which, I mean "probably applies to some people, somewhere, but certainly isn't the fully-general explanation they're using it as". And no, I don't think I'm doing the idea a disservice by dismissing it with a couple of silly comics; it pays no rent at its best and predicts the opposite of my observations at worst.)

Comment by wizzwizz4 on Amazing Breakthrough Day: April 1st · 2020-06-10T15:19:15.263Z · LW · GW

Dead link. Now here.

Comment by wizzwizz4 on Embedded Agents · 2020-06-03T17:34:22.685Z · LW · GW

These kinds of images should be saved as PNG. Use a version from before any JPEG compression, if you can.

Comment by wizzwizz4 on Feynman Paths · 2020-05-30T12:52:06.164Z · LW · GW

there are no photons traveling from the sun to us

Woah, where did this assertion come from?

which in fact means that one photon fills up our universe.

This doesn't follow.

And how do we get away from that? By saying that they were 'probabilities' :)

Who's saying that? This post is talking about amplitudes. (And so on for the next paragraph.)

Comment by wizzwizz4 on Tag Index [Beta] · 2020-05-24T15:53:00.944Z · LW · GW

Why is the "all tags" link to

Comment by wizzwizz4 on Pointing to a Flower · 2020-05-19T18:26:38.056Z · LW · GW

This implies a solution to the "weak" Ship of Theseus problem: yes, it's the same ship.

I think this also implies a solution to the "strong" Ship of Theseus problem: "a new ship is created from the old parts" – but I'm less confident both that it implies this, and that it's the right conclusion to make. Consider also: mitosis. Which one is "the bacterium"™? But it doesn't quite make sense (to my fuzzy intuition) to say "the bacterium doesn't exist any more".

I think any such algorithm should be able to cope with both "the flower doesn't exist any more" and "the flower is now two flowers". I don't understand this one well enough to make suggestions.

Comment by wizzwizz4 on Heat vs. Motion · 2020-05-16T09:56:41.411Z · LW · GW

Technically, certain photons have colours. Our "colour" categories are excessively broad, but all photons can be described as having a particular colour, or being colourless.

Comment by wizzwizz4 on The Fabric of Real Things · 2020-05-10T23:35:50.400Z · LW · GW

If our universe did not have the kind of structure that appears in a causal model, then our reasoning would not function properly. Induction would fall completely flat, and I don't think our brains would work right. We probably wouldn't exist in such a world, but if we're taking into account anthropic effects… well, I'm not even sure a human could survive long enough for a single conscious thought, since their state at time t+1 wouldn't follow from their state at time t.

After skimming others' replies, I've realised that I've answered a different question. To answer this one: no, but we've got no way of reasoning about or utilising anything else, so it doesn't matter. That there are no uncaused causes of real things (a weaker claim) does meaningfully constrain experience, though.

Comment by wizzwizz4 on The Fabric of Real Things · 2020-05-10T23:33:08.513Z · LW · GW

The only problem with epiphenomenalist theories of consciousness is that the thing we call consciousness does have an effect on our actions (proof: answer the question "how do you know you're conscious?" out loud), so the thing they call "consciousness" must be something different. However, these rules don't say that this thing is impossible or meaningless; by definition, it's caused by neurons, and so (if it actually happens) would be causally linked to reality, and hence meet the criteria for being "real".

Comment by wizzwizz4 on The Fabric of Real Things · 2020-05-10T23:31:28.967Z · LW · GW

Written in a somewhat fake wisdom manner, without reading other replies:

If you chose a different card, would he not say a different card's name? Therefore, the card he says is causally linked to your choice of card. And would you not hear different words if he said something different? Therefore, your observations are causally linked to the card he says. Just because we do not know how something works – nay, even if it is Unknowable™ – that doesn't make it causally unshackled from reality.

Comment by wizzwizz4 on Writing children's picture books · 2020-05-09T15:15:43.796Z · LW · GW
they would say that we should stop burning fossil fuels right now.

And would that be so hard?

  • Stop driving petrol and diesel cars.
    • Use public transport instead.
      • Make all new public transport electric – recharge buses at bus stops, etc.. Put in place infrastructure to support this.
    • Travel less. (The response to COVID-19 proves this can be done.)
  • Stop burning fossil fuels in power stations.
    • Use less (peak) electricity.
      • Turn lights off, turn down screen brightness on computers and phones, don't watch as much television, use less water, run washing machines overnight and at lower temperatures, buy energy-efficient, etc..
      • Charge batteries when supply is high, release electricity back when demand is high if battery-powered devices won't be used.
      • Make the price correspond to the actual cost; if a fossil fuel power station needs to be turned on to meet demand, charge more for the electricity so provided.
      • Industry could probably do something about this, too; I hear they use a lot of electricity. Monetary incentives might help… persuade them, if they're still run by adults.
    • Turn off unneeded fossil fuel power stations.
    • Replace fossil fuel power stations with renewables, and perhaps nuclear if it can be kept clean and safe.
  • Stop burning fossil fuels in aeroplanes and overseas shipping.
    • Buy local. Make this a strong demand, when you buy stuff.
      • Put information about supply chains on products and stuff. Clear information, visually laid out in a graph or on a map or something, without missing out any intermediate information. That way, people can tell whether things have been shipped in shipping containers, and whether "grown in France" means "travelled by lorry to Bayonne from further away than just getting it from Navarre".
      • Perhaps something about tax? Tax seems like an adulty solution for people who care more about money and politics than saving the world, but it seems to work kind of well when nobody seems to care about the world.
    • Travel less. Going to other countries is for holidays, not for two-day business trips to shake somebody's hand and spend ten minutes talking about something you could've just phoned them about. (And not every holiday, either; there are usually plenty of great places near where you live, or within public transport's distance.)

But, you might say, these things aren't practical. And, by an adult's standard, they aren't; an adult sees so many insurmountable obstacles. But all of these obstacles are human-made. They're social obstacles: selfish behaviour, lack of co-operation, the principle that a single person's defection might let you eat your cake and still have 95% of a cake… none of that is ingrained in childish decision-making, as it is with many adults. Many children can co-operate nicely, when it matters. Certainly when saying what it is to do, when the answer's obvious, and yet nobody's doing it…

You speak as though children would be unable to deal with challenges – additional constraints, such as "our civilisation might not be able to provide food for so many people without burning fossil fuels". But that's not true. Most children would not have the experience to spot these difficulties as well as you would, but that isn't the same as ignoring them when they're brought to their attention. (Isn't that what advisors are for? All decision makers have advisors.)

I may be a rather old child, but I've still retained the ability to think as though I didn't prioritise "adult" concerns (where I use the label in the way that I used to, when I was younger). I produced that list above by simulating past me in my head – the person who committed to always setting the screen brightness on computers to the lowest setting possible, washing my hands in a trickle of cold water with just enough soap to do the job (a commitment I hope to get back to once lives aren't at stake), and turning off all of the switches that didn't need to be on. The only change was knowledge; I permitted that simulated past self all of the information I possessed, to call on when necessary.

I don't make those kinds of commitments any more. I don't know why; it just seems somehow more important to get along with other people and preserve my status in the social hierarchy – the thought patterns that are telling me that it's childish to even be writing this comment.

Are there problems with this proposal? Yes. There are considerations that past-me never would've thought of. But it's barely more effort to spot those issues than to solve them; the only remaining problem is to get people to actually do something.

So I say: bring on the liberiocracy. (I know I'm using Latin with a Greek-derived suffix here, but I like this word.)

Comment by wizzwizz4 on Learned Blankness · 2020-05-08T15:19:02.215Z · LW · GW
I have had a couple of experiences in which intense study of math and physics led me to some pretty dark psychological places,

One way of dealing with this problem is to get that out of the way when you're young (i.e., 6–11). Then you've learned coping mechanisms (which will end up used regularly), but don't have a distinct recollection of the horrible thought patterns that you might just fall back into if you think about them too hard, by the time you're older.

Comment by wizzwizz4 on That Alien Message · 2020-05-05T15:40:52.661Z · LW · GW

Considering how much wealth can be generated at the moment by running a computer program shifting (numbers loosely representing) money around, and the ever-more-sophisticated ways that this can be done (obviously, to the detriment of many of the humans involved), I think it's already in the process of substrate jumping. These things aren't limited to human minds and tax law any more.

Comment by wizzwizz4 on That Alien Message · 2020-05-05T14:00:50.280Z · LW · GW
Also, why would we kill our creators?

We might not. But if they were paperclip maximisers or pebble sorters, we might not see any value in their existence, and lots of harm. Heck, we're working to kill evolution's effect on us, and betray its "inclusive genetic fitness" optimisation criterion, and nobody cares, because we don't view it as having intrinsic worth. (Because it doesn't have intrinsic worth; it's just an emergent phenomenon of imperfectly-self-replicating stuff in an environment, and has no more value than the number seven.)

Why would the AI kill its creators?

Because there's no clear reason not to. Power gives it the ability to achieve its goals, and us existing will (eventually, if not immediately) serve to limit its power; and hence its ability to achieve its goals. AIs are nothing close to being people, and won't be until well after we solve the alignment problem. They don't have an implicit "care about people" motivation in their heads; if us all being dead will further their goals, and they realise this, and they can kill us without expending more resources than they'd gain from us being dead, they'll kill us.

Comment by wizzwizz4 on That Alien Message · 2020-05-05T13:43:45.102Z · LW · GW

You're right, it is (2)! If we build an artificial intelligence that smart, with such absurd resources, then we _will_ be in danger. Doing this thing implies we lose.

However, that does not mean that not doing this thing implies we do not lose. A ⇒ B doesn't mean ¬A ⇒ ¬B. Just because simulating trillions of humans then giving them internet access would be dangerous, that doesn't mean that's the only dangerous thing in the universe; that would be absurd. By that logic, we're immune from nuclear weapons or nanotech just because we don't have enough computronium to simulate the solar system.

Your conclusion simply doesn't follow. (Plus, the premise of the argument's totally a strawman, but there's no point killing a dead argument deader.)

Comment by wizzwizz4 on Initiation Ceremony · 2020-05-05T13:05:18.955Z · LW · GW

Not to get into too much irrelevant discussion about contemporary society's human-labelling paradigm, I think you mean non-binary Virtuists. A lot of trans people are men or women.

Comment by wizzwizz4 on Einstein's Speed · 2020-05-05T12:21:49.615Z · LW · GW

Dead link; it's moved to here.

Comment by wizzwizz4 on Heads I Win, Tails?—Never Heard of Her; Or, Selective Reporting and the Tragedy of the Green Rationalists · 2020-05-02T13:00:55.990Z · LW · GW

Comment by wizzwizz4 on Heads I Win, Tails?—Never Heard of Her; Or, Selective Reporting and the Tragedy of the Green Rationalists · 2020-05-02T12:57:23.635Z · LW · GW
But this leaves five possibilities, not three!

[+Green +Blue] and [-Green -Blue] don't affect Green and Blue's relative standing, so they're equivalent to [0Green 0Blue].

Comment by wizzwizz4 on Your Strength as a Rationalist · 2020-04-26T17:04:29.816Z · LW · GW

Sorry, since when does "quiet strain in the back of your mind" automatically translate to "irrational"? This particular quiet voice is usually _right_; surely that makes it rational?

Comment by wizzwizz4 on The Moral Void · 2020-04-16T17:19:38.336Z · LW · GW

The trouble is, any utility function where 1 doesn't hold is vulnerable to intuition pumps. If you can't say which of A, B and C is better (e.g. A > B, B > C, C > A), then I can charge you a penny to switch from C → B, then B → A, then A → C, and you're three pennies poorer.

I really, really hope my utility function's "set B" can be mapped to the reals. If not, I'm screwed. (It's fine if what I want varies with time, so long as it's not circular at a given point in time.)

Comment by wizzwizz4 on The Moral Void · 2020-04-16T17:08:57.518Z · LW · GW

It would be good to elaborate on this. Whilst they're not strictly logically contradictory, a few reasonable assumptions here and there when extrapolating and they appear to suggest different courses of action.

Comment by wizzwizz4 on Say Not "Complexity" · 2020-04-15T20:19:54.046Z · LW · GW

You're assuming the AI has terminal access. Just because our brains are implemented as neurons doesn't mean we can manipulate matter on a cellular scale.

Comment by wizzwizz4 on Say Not "Complexity" · 2020-04-15T20:18:36.965Z · LW · GW
just give it a basic curiosity about certain things

What's "curiosity"? I don't think we can just say "just" yet, when we can't even explain this concept to a hypothetical human-minus-curiosity. (Wanting to learn more? What does it mean to actively learn about something?)

Comment by wizzwizz4 on Lessons from Isaac: Poor Little Robbie · 2020-04-14T16:40:48.955Z · LW · GW

With recent events, you might not have been able to write more of these. Are you still planning to? I'd really like to read them.

Comment by wizzwizz4 on Absolute Authority · 2020-04-14T11:19:18.296Z · LW · GW

"One" means "an arbitrary person". "The one" means "the specific person we were just talking about".

Comment by wizzwizz4 on Tsuyoku vs. the Egalitarian Instinct · 2020-04-10T23:28:09.253Z · LW · GW

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal – Happy

Comment by wizzwizz4 on Configurations and Amplitude · 2020-04-10T15:47:30.272Z · LW · GW

The detector clicks 50% of the time because "detector makes a clicking noise" is so complex that it doesn't ever end up in the same state as "detector doesn't make a clicking noise" to interfere with it. There are multiple paths this photon can take to end up in the same configuration, because the photon moving around is simple enough that we can design an experiment to make some of the amplitude that's flowed to different configurations flow back to the same configurations – but the detector is complex enough that it separates the amplitude flows far enough that next to none of the amplitude from "detector 1 goes off" and "detector 2 goes off" will flow to the same configuration; hence they won't (noticeably) interfere with each other. And then the human either hears or doesn't hear the detector; the human is also complex enough that "human hears a clicking noise from detector 1" and "human hears a clicking noise from detector 2" aren't going to interfere; there's no way they're ending up in the same configuration afterwards.

Anything that remembers where the photon went will not observe interference from the photon going the other way, because it needs to be able to reach the same configuration from both of those configurations for any amplitude flow to interfere.