Comment by woodside on Rationality Quotes December 2014 · 2014-12-04T20:26:52.309Z · LW · GW

If I could convince Aubrey de Grey to cut off his beard it would increase everyones expected longevity more than any other accomplishment I'm capable of.

Comment by woodside on Learning critical thinking: a personal example · 2013-02-19T11:01:30.507Z · LW · GW

Your interaction with your teachers is very similar to my experiences training more junior officers to stand "Officer of the Deck" on submarines (Officer of the Deck is the position ultimately in charge of everything having to do with the boat, internally and externally. Think of the role Picard or Riker assume when they sit in the "Captain's Chair" on the bridge in Star Trek. In real life people sleep and do other stuff so officers more junior than the CO/XO take on that role most of the time).

A lot of the same second guessing and reluctance to make decisions happens when people are training for this position. One small thing that makes a big difference in my experience is telling my students explicitly at the outset that I expect them to make decisions for themselves but I'll stop them if they're about to do something dangerous or horribly wrong. If one of the officers does something that's suboptimal but otherwise ok I'll let him see it through and we'll talk about it later. Even if your instructors haven't told you this explicitly I'd bet that they have a similar mindset. If you just internalize the fact that you'll be stopped before you do something extremely bad it might go a long way towards letting you relax enough to practice making quick judgements and acting on them.

Obviously if an instructor isn't around to stop you this advice is terrible.

Comment by woodside on Open Thread, February 1-14, 2013 · 2013-02-05T10:38:19.651Z · LW · GW

1 billion dollars earmarked for whole brain simulation makes it seem a lot more likely that we'll brute force a naive version of AI well before we have the ability to prove any kind of friendliness. If that AI is seeded by the simulated brain of an actual human though... who knows. I'd like to think that if it were my brain and at some point I became singularity-scale intelligent that I wouldn't create a horrible future for humanity (by our present day perspective) but it's pretty hard to claim that with any confidence.

Comment by woodside on Rationality Quotes February 2013 · 2013-02-03T07:59:05.729Z · LW · GW

There hasn't been a lot of money spent researching it, but meta-analysis of the studies that have been conducted show that on average there is no placebo effect.

Comment by woodside on Rationality Quotes February 2013 · 2013-02-03T07:53:04.057Z · LW · GW

Because you're a human, not a butterfly. It seems like an animal that used a cognitive filter that defaulted to the latter case would take a pretty severe fitness hit.

Comment by woodside on Rationality Quotes February 2013 · 2013-02-03T06:42:52.991Z · LW · GW

This idea is primarily why I'm skeptical of the effectiveness of institutions like the federal reserve (despite not being a subject matter expert). It seems pretty clear that in order to be effective the leadership has to be comprised of people that are not only exceptionally brilliant, but exceptionally benevolent as well.

Comment by woodside on Closet survey #1 · 2013-01-13T17:35:15.608Z · LW · GW

I'm curious about your personal experiences with physical pain. What is the most painful thing you've experienced and what was the duration?

I'm sympathetic to your preference in the abstract, I just think you might be surprised at how little pain you're actually willing to endure once it's happening (not a slight against you, I think people in general overestimate what degree of physical pain they can handle as a function of the stakes involved, based largely on anecdotal and second hand experience from my time in the military).

At the risk of being overly morbid, I have high confidence (>95%) that I could have you begging for death inside of an hour if that were my goal (don't worry, it's certainly not). An unfriendly AI capable of keeping you alive for eternity just to torture you would be capable of making you experience worse pain than anyone ever has in the history of our species so far. I believe you that you might sign a piece of paper to pre-commit to an eternity of torture vice simple death. I just think you'd be very very upset about that decision. Probably less than 5 minutes into it.

Comment by woodside on Don't Build Fallout Shelters · 2013-01-13T07:47:57.074Z · LW · GW

I wasn't one of the downvoters, but I'll hazard a guess.

  • pursuing personal-level solutions for society-level hazards is highly inefficient.

Viscerally for me, this immediately flags as not being right. I might not understand what you mean by that statement though. It's very difficult to make an impact on the probability of society-level hazards occuring, one way or the other, so if you think there's a non-trivial chance of one of them occuring a personal-level solution seems like the obvious choice.

  • I assumed, perhaps wrongly, that that was a given on this site, given previous discussions here. There's probably an argument to be made that all such actions are merely purchasing fuzzies and that protecting yourself is purchasing utilons, but I'd like to think that we're better than that.

I think you're significantly overestimating the uniformity of LW readers. The high-impact posters seem to have similar ethical views but I imagine most of the readers arrive here through an interest in transhumanism. On the scale from pathological philanthropists to being indifferent to the whole world burning if it doesn't include you subjectively experiencing it I bet the average reader is a lot closer to the latter than you would like. I certainly am. I care on an abstract, intellectual level, but it's very very difficult for me to be emotionally impacted by possible futures that don't include me. I think a lot of people downvote when you make assumpions about them (that turn out to be incorrect).

That being said, I don't have a problem with anything you wrote.

Comment by woodside on Rationality Quotes January 2013 · 2013-01-03T11:01:46.649Z · LW · GW

It's not easy to find rap lyrics that are appropriate to be posted here. Here's an attempt.

Son, remember when you fight to be free

To see things how they are and not how you like em to be

Cause even when the world is falling on top of me

Pessimism is an emotion, not a philosophy

Knowing what's wrong doesn't imply that you right

And its another, when you suffer to apply it in life

But I'm no rookie

And I'm never gonna make the same mistake twice pussy

  • Immortal Technique "Mistakes"
Comment by woodside on LW Women- Minimizing the Inferential Distance · 2012-11-26T19:35:27.323Z · LW · GW

For those that don't want to do a google search, MLP:FiM = My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (I had to look it up)

Is this one of those kid shows that adults watch these days? A show that a decent fraction of male LW readers know enough about to "ruminate on"?

I already have to navigate through my social world with the handicap of counting a work of Harry Potter fanfiction among my favorite books. If I end up owning seasons of My Little Pony because of this site I'm going to be very upset.

Comment by woodside on LW Women- Minimizing the Inferential Distance · 2012-11-26T06:54:33.606Z · LW · GW

I can see the point the author is trying to make in the story about having to be gentle with girls, but I think I'd be conflicted about it if I had a son. Later in life there are severe social and legal consequences for a man that is too rough with women and I'd hate to set my kid up for failure.

I realize there is a difference between "playing rough" and abuse but there can be grey areas at the border. There are many situations were I would physically subdue a man (both playful and serious) but not a woman, partly for fear of causing harm but mainly because of the social blowback and potential for getting arrested.

I might be overly sensitive to this line of thinking because I have a military background, but I think teaching a son that he should behave as if girls and boys are the same physically is sub-optimal (in terms of setting him up for success and long-term hapiness).

Comment by woodside on Signalling fallacies: Implication vs. Inference · 2012-11-15T10:42:52.973Z · LW · GW

To me this just seems like a disconnect between the way language is parsed by the speaker and the listener. When I hear somebody say "Atlas Shrugged is the greatest book ever written" I don't take it as the speaker's literal belief, because almost nobody means such a statement in that way.

Comment by woodside on Digging the Bull's Horn · 2012-11-12T15:38:38.900Z · LW · GW

It would probably be useful to compile a list of times in the past that coming out the other side of the bull's horn was worth it. If you're trying to find a common thread.

What immediately comes to mind as an obvious example is Newtonian physics. There was a period in the history of science where it looked like we had figured out almost everything worth knowing in this field. That turned out not to be the case in a big way. There were clues that there might be a deeper, more general theory in the inconsistencies in observational data at the time and it seems like this would be a good place to start.

What fields are there that seem like they are mostly figured out but with a few nagging inconsistencies? Continuing the physics theme, the standard model does a heck of a job but there is still dark matter/energy and gravity to figure out. It's clear from the number of top level minds devoted to studying these things that people already think this horn is worth bulldozing through though. It's not that people don't think it's worth digging, it's just really hard.

Maybe there are fields that are similarly saturated theory wise but have inconsistencies that aren't being thought about a lot?

Comment by woodside on Voting is like donating thousands of dollars to charity · 2012-11-05T12:02:23.717Z · LW · GW

Thank you for the detailed response. Lots of interesting ideas that I'll definitely read through in detail later on when I have more time.

I do think I meant something different by the term 'noise' than the way you read it but I'm not convinced it will matter in the end. You seem to be using noise to cover the case where voters make their decisions arbitrarily because they lack preferences. I was trying to make the point that the average forced voter might be little better than random at actually identifying the candidate that would lead to the greatest fulfillment of his preferences.

Comment by woodside on Voting is like donating thousands of dollars to charity · 2012-11-05T07:27:00.574Z · LW · GW

What evidence is there that compulsory voting wouldn't just add noise to the selection process? This seems like the obvious outcome to me.

Comment by woodside on 2012 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2012-11-04T10:30:56.007Z · LW · GW

Took it.

My browser was unable to copy/past most of the links which led to less than initially intended participation on my part. For instance, I took the big 5 quiz because the address was easy to glance at and type into another tab but didn't take other surveys/tests in the bonus question sections because i didn't feel like tabbing back and forth to get the web address correct.

Comment by woodside on Who Wants To Start An Important Startup? · 2012-09-10T21:08:44.853Z · LW · GW

I haven't but I'll check it out, I'm about to go on a 20 hour plane trip.

Comment by woodside on Rationality Quotes September 2012 · 2012-09-10T21:03:34.684Z · LW · GW

I took the quote as a call to explore. Don't just be satisfied with learning things other people have figured out, try to creatively venture into the unknown yourself.

Comment by woodside on Rationality Quotes September 2012 · 2012-09-05T00:37:13.522Z · LW · GW

If you are not lost, then you're at a place someone has already found... What's the use of being in mapped territory?

  • Junot Diaz

A different perspective on a phrase our community holds near and dear

Comment by woodside on Rational Romantic Relationships, Part 1: Relationship Styles and Attraction Basics · 2012-08-23T09:33:07.962Z · LW · GW

Retracted. I had written some brutally honest advice but realized after reading a bit more that you know a lot of people on here in person, so I'll PM instead.

Comment by woodside on Who Wants To Start An Important Startup? · 2012-08-22T12:11:59.225Z · LW · GW

Rough Idea: Send brilliant, destitute kids to great schools from an early age in exchange for a percentage of their lifetime earnings.

Depending on the study you read there are up to hundreds of millions of children in the developing world that are in the primary/middle school age range that will never get the chance to attend a school. Some of these children have the genetic potential to be top tier in terms of intelligence and productivity but will never realize this potential.

Develop a cost-effective selection mechanism for finding these diamonds in the rough and present them with a deal. They are moved to a top-level boarding school in a developed country (This could be a partnership with existing schools or a school developed specifically for this program, maybe there is a year long english prep trial school they go to first, there are many details to consider). In exchange they commit to paying some percentage (10% feels about right as a gut-check) of their income to the company for the rest of their lives (maybe there is an option to buy out of the contract for kids that end up sufficiently wealthy, again, many details to consider).

Biggest issues I see:

  • The program will take many years, potentially 2 decades, to start generating revenue.
  • A host of legal hurdles
  • Social/litigious blowback from groups that don't like the idea of plucking third world children from their families and signing them up for what may be interpreted as indentured servitude
  • Reliably selecting the right kids may turn out to be prohibitively expensive
Comment by woodside on Who Wants To Start An Important Startup? · 2012-08-22T11:29:39.639Z · LW · GW

Do you have any more examples of problems that have been solved or are trying to be solved using this approach?

This idea sounds very interesting and potentially a good business, but that rests completely on there being a large set of problems that would be cheaper to solve this way than by another method.

Comment by woodside on Tips for Starting Group Houses · 2012-07-18T20:19:21.790Z · LW · GW

"A maid, a hot tub, and a paleo 2.0 kitchen"

Posts like these really make me want to move to the bay area.

Comment by woodside on Eliezer Yudkowsky Facts · 2012-07-17T17:19:09.564Z · LW · GW

An Eliezer Yudkowsky post a day keeps the bias at bay.

Comment by woodside on Rationality Quotes July 2012 · 2012-07-12T07:37:31.392Z · LW · GW

"A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week."

General Patton

Obviously not true in all cases, but good advice for folks that have trouble getting things done despite being extremely intelligent (which this community has more than its fair share of).

Comment by woodside on Irrationality Game II · 2012-07-10T07:11:05.126Z · LW · GW

Well, I agree with you that I should buy cryonics at very high prices and I plan on doing so. For the last few years I've spent the majority of my time in places where being signed up for cryonics wouldn't make a difference (9 months out of the year on a submarine, and now overseas in a place where there aren't any cryonics companies set up).

You should probably still upvote because the < 1/4 of the time I've spent in situations where it would matter still more than justify it. I should also never eat an icecream snickers again. I'll be the first to admit I don't behave perfectly rationally. :)

Comment by woodside on Irrationality Game II · 2012-07-06T17:33:23.247Z · LW · GW

Irrationality Game:

These claims assume MWI is true.

Claim #1: Given that MWI is true, a sentient individual will be subjectively immortal. This is motivated by the idea that branches in which death occurs can be ignored and that there are always enough branches for some form of subjective consciousness to continue.

Claim #2: The vast majority of the long-term states a person will experience will be so radically different than the normal human experience that they are akin to perpetual torture.

P(Claim #1) = 60%

P(Claim #2 | Claim #1) = 99%

Comment by woodside on Reversed Stupidity Is Not Intelligence · 2011-12-10T19:33:50.941Z · LW · GW

Many people are unsatisfied with their monogamous relationships, therefore polyamory must be great?

Comment by woodside on How is your mind different from everyone else's? · 2011-12-08T23:17:25.804Z · LW · GW

I have an absolutely atrocious memory for specifics when it comes to interpersonal interactions. I have a very difficult time saying what a person did or said even later that day. What makes this strange is that I have an excellent memory for a more abstract accounting of people's abilities and can predict people's reactions to different situations with a high degree of accuracy. I deal with utilizing people very often in my job (military officer) and I am known and respected for being very good at putting the right team together for a situation and splitting tasks between people in the most efficient manner. I always have a high confidence model of what a person is capable of, how trustworthy they are, how much stress they can handle etc, but when I try to analyze where this opinion originates from I can never remember anything. Since studying rationality I've become somewhat skeptical of how accurate I actually am in this regard, but after many attempts to test my gut opinions about people I've concluded that whatever my brain is doing, even in the absence of any consciously accessible data, seems to work.

Comment by woodside on Rationality Quotes: February 2010 · 2010-02-02T04:46:38.252Z · LW · GW

"Most people are more complicated than they seem, but less complicated than they think"

  • BS