Is Pragmatarianism (Tax Choice) Less Wrong? 2015-02-12T04:47:18.722Z · score: -16 (19 votes)


Comment by xerographica on Examples of AI's behaving badly · 2015-07-21T14:03:13.519Z · score: -2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Slugs misbehave when they eat my orchids.

Comment by xerographica on Open Thread, Jun. 22 - Jun. 28, 2015 · 2015-06-28T06:33:45.668Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

That's fucking teamwork.

Comment by xerographica on Open Thread, Jun. 22 - Jun. 28, 2015 · 2015-06-27T15:33:11.644Z · score: -1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

"Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little." - Edmund Burke

Comment by xerographica on Open Thread, Jun. 22 - Jun. 28, 2015 · 2015-06-23T00:17:41.582Z · score: -1 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Economics, bias and fallacies.

Comment by xerographica on Roadmap: Plan of Action to Prevent Human Extinction Risks · 2015-06-02T21:46:41.333Z · score: -2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The lesson of the potato famine was that crops should be more, rather than less, diverse. The potatoes that were in cultivation didn't have enough genetic variation which is why the the disease had such a huge impact. But if it's true of crops... then it's also true of people. People should be more genetically diverse. This way a new pathogen can't kill all of us. Although I have no idea how you'd practically ensure greater human diversity!!?? History might refer to you as the opposite of Hitler.

Regarding the danger of AI... if greater diversity is better for crops and humans... then it's also better for robots as well. We'll give more resources to the most beneficial robots. Evil robots won't have a leg to stand on.

And war can be eliminated by tax choice.

Comment by xerographica on Roadmap: Plan of Action to Prevent Human Extinction Risks · 2015-06-02T04:11:13.845Z · score: -2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Hedge hedge hedge! The most successful plant family on Earth is the Orchidaceae. There are around 30,000 different species! Each orchid seed pod can contain a million dust like seeds that are dispersed by the wind. A million seeds is a huge hedge.

The opposite of hedging is to put all your eggs in one basket. Right now humans have all their eggs in one basket... aka "Earth". We also allow a small group of government planners to allocate all our taxes. Coincidence? Nope.

Centralization is always a function of conceit. People think they have enough facts to block/limit hetergeneous activity. The more you appreciate fallibilism the more you appreciate decentralization.

The answer is always tax choice.

Comment by xerographica on Bragging Thread May 2015 · 2015-05-10T23:57:00.716Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

I created the world's first micropayments forum... RudeBagel. Some additional info.

Comment by xerographica on Communities: A single moderator is often superior to the wisdom of crowds · 2015-05-05T00:21:36.739Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thanks for sharing! Blendle is pretty neat because you can get a refund if you're unsatisfied. But I'm pretty sure that the "One-Price-Fits-All" (OPFA) model isn't as good as the "Pay-What-You-Want" (PWYW) model.

Comment by xerographica on Communities: A single moderator is often superior to the wisdom of crowds · 2015-05-03T22:56:20.877Z · score: -3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

People have been trying to get micropayments working for decades and it still doesn't seem to have had any major successes.

My approach is ridiculously simple. In the forum thread that I linked to... nobody has disputed my approach yet.

Regardless, all micropayments would do is further incentivise the kinds of articles that are already been voted to the top and make the issues discussed here worse.

So popularity equals demand? That sure would make economics a whole lot easier. Nobody would have to spend any money. We'd all just vote for all the products that we want. Voila! The efficient allocation of society's limited resources!

According to your theory, the most voted for threads on this forum would receive the most money. Care to bet on that? If so, how much?

Comment by xerographica on Communities: A single moderator is often superior to the wisdom of crowds · 2015-05-03T21:24:01.539Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Heh. I started reading my gf's 50 Shades of Gray on her kindle... but I couldn't finish it because it was so bad. She liked it though. shrug

Here are two subreddits...

  1. Economy
  2. Invisible hand

The same economics article isn't going to be equally valuable in both subs. In the first sub, Ha-Joon Chang's articles are going to be a lot more valuable than Peter Boettke's articles. And the opposite would be true in the second sub.

See how that would work? There's riches in niches.

Comment by xerographica on Communities: A single moderator is often superior to the wisdom of crowds · 2015-05-03T20:30:23.040Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It is very hard to find new content buried among all of the noise.

The solution is to facilitate micropayments. People aren't going to spend as much money on topics that there's a surplus of. The more readily available something is... the less money that people are willing to pay for it. So facilitating micropayments will allow the crowd to help lift the scarcest/rarest and most valuable content to the top of the list.

Oranges used to be a luxury. In other words, an orange was uncommon but valuable content. Then what happened? Payment.

Orchids used to be a luxury. In other words, an orchid was uncommon but valuable content. Then what happened? Payment.

So we add (micro)payments to Reddit, Youtube, Less Wrong and what will happen? What will happen when we incentivize/reward people who produce scarce but valuable content?

Comment by xerographica on Why capitalism? · 2015-05-03T20:16:36.188Z · score: -6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

What is the demand for threads? Does it matter that none of us knows the answer?

Comment by xerographica on Rational discussion of politics · 2015-04-29T14:11:19.545Z · score: -3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Super cool! Talk about entrepreneurship in action! You perceived a demand and you decided to tackle it. You took a risk... hopefully there will be a huge reward.

I've already signed up and am eagerly awaiting the chance to see how your product compares to the competition.

Regarding sorting... the best method would be to facilitate micropayments. In that thread I gave some reasonably detailed points about how and why.

Comment by xerographica on Publishing my initial model for hypercapitalism · 2015-04-20T16:37:57.862Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I love information and economics... so I read through some of your material... but I'm really not sure what problem you're trying to solve.

Comment by xerographica on Cooperative conversational threading · 2015-04-19T07:30:33.307Z · score: -3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

We've gone beyond the capacity of the human mind to an extraordinary degree. And by the way, that's one of the reasons that I'm not interested in the debate about I.Q., about whether some groups have higher I.Q.s than other groups. It's completely irrelevant. What's relevant to a society is how well people are communicating their ideas, and how well they're cooperating, not how clever the individuals are. So we've created something called the collective brain. We're just the nodes in the network. We're the neurons in this brain. It's the interchange of ideas, the meeting and mating of ideas between them, that is causing technological progress, incrementally, bit by bit. However, bad things happen. And in the future, as we go forward, we will, of course, experience terrible things. There will be wars; there will be depressions; there will be natural disasters. Awful things will happen in this century, I'm absolutely sure. But I'm also sure that, because of the connections people are making, and the ability of ideas to meet and to mate as never before, I'm also sure that technology will advance, and therefore living standards will advance. Because through the cloud, through crowd sourcing, through the bottom-up world that we've created, where not just the elites but everybody is able to have their ideas and make them meet and mate, we are surely accelerating the rate of innovation. - Matt Ridley, When ideas have sex

Less Wrong meet-ups should be orgies. Everybody should be having sex with everybody. They won't be having sex with their bodies of course... they'll be having sex with their brains. Do you want people to have safe brain sex? No way! Every meet-up should be responsible for the birth of a billion beautiful brain children.

And in order for this to happen... you really can't have a format where everybody holds their questions/comments until the end of some lecture. You can't pass one mic around and have everybody listen while one person speaks for 5 minutes. You need a format where people freely and simultaneously throw their thoughts out there... and freely share their thoughts on other people's thoughts.

You want a bunch of brain storms... not one brain drizzle.

With a completely decentralized format... you can have dozens of different discussions simultaneously occurring. But... how can you know what people in other clusters are discussing? You can't... unless people use Reddit to share notes on their discussions.

When information becomes more symmetrical (here, here)... the nodes can continually better position themselves. The AI cluster will grow or shrink depending on people's interests and information. Same thing with the economics cluster and the transhumanism cluster and the epiphyte cluster. Clusters will break apart and reform with different nodes... so there will be fusions and hybrids... like Chinese tacos and coywolves.

The logical consequence of destroying the dam is that you'll get a flood of information. Facilitating a bunch of brain storms will result in a deluge of information. The challenge will then be prioritizing. Your brain can only process so much information... so you'll want to process the most valuable information.

This is why "quarters up" is necessary. The crowd uses their pennies, nickles, dimes and quarters to give more volume to the most important information. Essentially they are saying... "have sex with these ideas!"

Offering to pay a woman with whom you are on a date for sex isn't a good move.

Is it a good move to accurately communicate your valuation of her company? Of course it is. And it's absurd that it's acceptable to give her a diamond but it's not acceptable to simply give her the money instead.

Comment by xerographica on Cooperative conversational threading · 2015-04-16T00:28:22.123Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Just create a subreddit for the meet up. You can post/vote(up/down) comments/questions/topics before/during/after the meeting.

Of course it would work even better if people could "quarters up" their favorite posts. Why would it work better? Because it would allow participants to quantify their interest in the various comments/questions/topics. Plus, how cool would it be to get paid for being an excellent poster?

Comment by xerographica on Is my theory on why censorship is wrong correct? · 2015-04-12T12:07:58.011Z · score: -10 (16 votes) · LW · GW

I upvoted this for a few reasons. One reason is because right now I'm winning the least Karma award. I have -200 karma! It seems that you have enough raw natural talent to easily steal this prestigious award from me. So that's one reason that I gave you an upvote. In fact, I'm going to go through and upvote all your posts.

Another reason that I gave you an upvote is that it's really rare to find someone who seems to have fired their "editor" or removed their facade.

And another reason is because I hate censorship too.

Comment by xerographica on Open Thread, Apr. 06 - Apr. 12, 2015 · 2015-04-09T07:11:59.546Z · score: -11 (13 votes) · LW · GW

A few times I've mentioned that nobody has adequately explained why the best method that we have of controlling humans (the market) wouldn't also work for AIs. Scott Alexander recently posted an entry... No Physical Substrate, No Problem... that is by far the best explanation that I've come across. From my perspective though his explanation is still far from adequate. The biggest problem is that there's no real recognition of the significance of garbage in, garbage out. I thoroughly explained my point here... Debugging Scott Alexander And Paul Krugman.

If your reply clearly reveals that you haven't bothered to read my thorough explanation... then this will support my suspicion that it's better to share just the link without any description of the contents. I'd prefer to trade with 1 person who has read the contents rather than trade with 100 people who have only read the description.

And of course you're certainly welcome to downvote this! But I'll stop sharing links when people stop clicking on them. In other words, I'll get the message when LessWrong completely vanishes from my blog's traffic statistics. As it stands... plenty of people still click on my links... so here I am!

Comment by xerographica on Open Thread, Apr. 06 - Apr. 12, 2015 · 2015-04-07T00:47:02.504Z · score: -6 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Even if the content contained the cure for cancer and the solution to "unfriendly" AI?

Comment by xerographica on Open Thread, Apr. 06 - Apr. 12, 2015 · 2015-04-07T00:35:50.211Z · score: -5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Because it helps to illustrate the problem with our government. If people don't understand the problem with our government... then obviously they won't appreciate how tax choice is the solution.

Comment by xerographica on Open Thread, Apr. 06 - Apr. 12, 2015 · 2015-04-06T23:42:24.276Z · score: -4 (8 votes) · LW · GW

When somebody downvotes my post... they downvote all four of those topics. But it's impossible that they dislike each of those four topics equally. And that's the problem with bundles. Bundles can hinder accurate communication.

Comment by xerographica on Open Thread, Apr. 06 - Apr. 12, 2015 · 2015-04-06T23:12:38.633Z · score: -13 (13 votes) · LW · GW
  1. Air Climbing
  2. Visualizing The Economics of Education
  3. Crazy Cable Confusion: Costless Content Creation
  4. Drunk History and Economics - Sodom and Gomorrah vs Indiana

Bizarre Bundle?

Comment by xerographica on Futarchy and Unfriendly AI · 2015-04-05T22:08:02.662Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

In the comment that you replied to, I calmly and rationally explained with exceptionally sound logic why my "pet issue" (the efficient allocation of resources) is relevant to the subject of "unfriendly" AI.

Did you calmly and rationally explain why the efficient allocation of resources is not relevant to "unfriendly" AI? Nope.

Nobody on this forum is forced to read or respond to my comments. And obviously I'm not daunted by criticism. So unlike this guy, I'm not going to bravely run away from an abundance of economic ignorance.

And if my calm and rational comments are driving you so crazy... then perhaps it would behoove you to find the bias in your bonnet.

Comment by xerographica on Futarchy and Unfriendly AI · 2015-04-05T09:44:53.648Z · score: -3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Not sure how you missed it... but I speak about how people should be able to choose where their taxes go. Maybe you missed it because I get swamped with downvotes?

Right now the government engages in activities that some people consider to be immoral. For example, pacifists consider war to be immoral. You think that there's absolutely nothing wrong with pacifists being forced to fund war. Instead of worrying about how pacifists currently have to give war a leg to stand on... you want to worry about how we're going to prevent robots from being immoral.

When evilness, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder... it's just as futile to try and prevent AIs from being immoral as it is to try and prevent humans from being immoral. What isn't futile however is to fight for people's freedom not to invest in immorality.

Any case you worry about is a case where an AI that you consider to be immoral ends up with too many resources at its disposal. Because you're really not going to worry about...

  1. ... a moral AI with significant resources at its disposal
  2. ... an immoral AI with insignificant resources at its disposal

So you worry about a case where an immoral AI ends up with too many resources at its disposal. But that's exactly the same thing that I worry about with humans. And if it's exactly the same thing that I worry about with humans... then it's a given that my worry is the same regardless of whether the immoral individual is human, AI, alien or other.

In other words, you have this bizarre double standard for humans and AI. You want to prevent immoral AIs from coming into existence yet you think nothing of forcing humans to give immoral humans a leg to stand on.

Comment by xerographica on Futarchy and Unfriendly AI · 2015-04-03T23:36:48.680Z · score: -7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Can you suggest a scenario in which futarchy would fail to prevent the universe from being turned into paperclips?

Comment by xerographica on Futarchy and Unfriendly AI · 2015-04-03T23:21:25.582Z · score: -4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

This is kinda like how futarchy works... STAR WARS or STAR TREK… we let the swarm decide! The difference is that the outcome would be a lot more accurate with futarchy. Why? Because people would be putting their money where their mouths are.

As I pointed out here... AI Safety vs Human Safety... nobody, that I know of, has applied the best method we have for controlling humans (the market) to robots. Which isn't too surprising since AI largely falls under the scope of computer science. But it's the "safety" aspect that also falls under the scope of economics. The development of an evil AI is most definitely an inefficient allocation of society's limited resources.

With futarchy we could bet on which organization/company is most likely to develop harmful AI. We could also bet on which organization is most likely to develop beneficial AI. Then we could shift our money from the former to the latter.

Don't Give Evil Robots A Leg To Stand On!

Comment by xerographica on Open thread, Apr. 01 - Apr. 05, 2015 · 2015-04-01T09:49:54.606Z · score: -13 (17 votes) · LW · GW

Right now I have -126 Karma!!! w00t! And... screw all you all! Except for that one guy who likes orchids. He's cool.

Feel tempted to downvote this? Might want to think twice because... Data Mining Reveals How The “Down-Vote” Leads To A Vicious Circle Of Negative Feedback.

Therefore, you're irrational if you downvote this. Maybe it's because you've been mind-killed by politics?

Is economics also a mind killer? Perhaps that would explain what happened to me. Because I'm all about the economics... Let a thousand markets bloom.

Comment by xerographica on The great decline in Wikipedia pageviews (condensed version) · 2015-03-29T03:07:33.196Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

No data, like I said...

What percentage of the total decline in page views does this explanation actually account for? Beats me. It has to account for some though.

I did find this...

The number of active editors on the English-language Wikipedia peaked in 2007 at more than 51,000 and has been declining ever since as the supply of new ones got choked off. This past summer only 31,000 people could be considered active editors. - The Decline of Wikipedia

That confirms a decline in editors... and by extension... a decline in edits/pageviews... but no idea what fraction of the total pageviews decline it represents. It's probably pretty small.

The Google explanation probably represents a much higher fraction. For a while Wikipedia seemed to frequently be at the top of numerous search results. This would of course equate to considerable pageviews. Now it seems like Wikipedia results aren't as frequently as high as they used to be.

Comment by xerographica on Discussion of Slate Star Codex: "Extremism in Thought Experiments is No Vice" · 2015-03-28T14:47:30.403Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I definitely agree with Scott's argument. Using extreme scenarios can help get to the heart of the matter/morality. It's especially interesting because Scott's previous post was... Is Everything A Religion? If everything is truly a religion then Phil Robertson's scenario loses steam. The atheist would simply reply to the intruders that he does believe in God... just not the Christian God. If the intruders pressed the atheist for details... and the atheist was a liberal... then he could tell him that the state is his God. This would be consistent with a paper written by a Nobel prize winning economist...

The state did, indeed, become God. - James M. Buchanan, Afraid to be free: Dependency as desideratum

It's too bad that Scott didn't share that paper as an additional example of how different beliefs can be considered religions.

But the atheist wouldn't necessarily have to be a liberal to have some degree of faith that the state would track down, apprehend and judge the law-breakers.

Personally, even though I'm an atheist, it's entirely possible that I would totally claim Christianity and quote the heck out of the Bible if I found myself in Robertson's scenario. I would have absolutely no affinity with Kant in this regard. I would lie like a rug if I thought it would save my family. That being said, if we assumed that the intruders were highly intelligent, and/or had a lie detector test on them... then I would tell them that my "God" is progress. Difference is the engine of progress so difference is the engine of "God". If the intruders killed my family and I... then this would decrease difference... and as such, be against my religion. And because everybody benefits from progress... even the intruders.. then it would behoove them not to kill us. In essence I would be making a consequentialist argument against being murdered.

The same thing is true if the leader of China called me on the phone and threatened to invade the US and kill/enslave all Americans. Again, assuming adequate intelligence... I'd make a consequential rather than a deontological argument against the invasion. Sure, China would gain X from having a bunch of additional resources at their disposal... but they would be foregoing Y. What's Y? Y is what they would have gained from American innovations. Progress (innovations, discoveries, cures) depends on difference... and China would eliminate a lot of difference by invading us. Therefore... Y > X.

Perhaps it would be more effective to simply reply that we'd bomb the heck out of China if they invaded us? History clearly indicates that this argument doesn't work in the long run. We're all safer and better off when more, rather than less, people appreciate the value of difference.

Comment by xerographica on Slate Star Codex: alternative comment threads on LessWrong? · 2015-03-27T21:44:42.677Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

But you can sort comments by newest/oldest/best! Plus, you're automatically subscribed to anything that you comment on. So any future replies are e-mailed to you. And you're given a central page to find and reference any of your comments... Xerographica. And you can use HTML.

This is my preference breakdown for SSC's comments...

LessWrong > Disqus > Current

Comment by xerographica on Slate Star Codex: alternative comment threads on LessWrong? · 2015-03-27T21:30:17.207Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

I really like the idea of blogs "outsourcing" their comments to forums. A second best option would be for Scott to use Disqus for his comments. With Disqus you're always logged in. Plus you can rate comments up or down.

Comment by xerographica on The great decline in Wikipedia pageviews (condensed version) · 2015-03-27T18:16:32.837Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

The decline happened as a result of my indefinite banishment from Wikipedia. How many page views did I generate when I was active on Wikipedia? A lot more than I generate now that I'm banned!

I'm kinda kidding around but there's more than a kernel of truth in there. When Wikipedia was first created... there were more than a gazillion bits of knowledge missing. Over time though... the "easiest" bits were filled in. As all the lowest hanging fruit was picked... there were less and less people tall enough to reach the higher fruit. Clearly this resulted in a significant decrease in editing activity and by extension... a decrease in page views.

What percentage of the total decline in page views does this explanation actually account for? Beats me. It has to account for some though.

On a tangentially related note... a few weeks after famous economists die... I like to try and grab a screenshot of the page views for their Wikipedia entries. Their page views have a huge spike as their life/death is widely discussed... but then the page views decline pretty quickly afterwards. Unfortunately, in too many cases I've forgotten to grab screenshots. And the graph doesn't look as good when you have to go back in time. :( Why economists? Well... I think they'd appreciate it more than most famous dead people. Plus, it could be interesting/informative to compare their graphs in order to try and discern some useful information about something... economical.

In exchange for my explanation... how about you try and resolve Satt's Paradox? Or, you can try and predict if/when/how quarters up are going to replace thumbs up.

Comment by xerographica on Indifferent vs false-friendly AIs · 2015-03-25T11:17:45.886Z · score: -5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

If by "overriding differences" you mean "cause the complete extinction of anything that could ever be called human, for ever and ever".

Overriding differences is a continuum that ranges from very small overrides to very large overrides. But in all cases it boils down to an individual preferring option A but being forced to choose option Not A instead.

And no, I don't think it's ok for humans to "cause the complete extinction of anything that could ever be called human, for ever and ever", either.

Great, we can cross this extremely large override from the list. How about we consider an override that actually does occur? With our current system... pacifists are forced to pay for war. This overrides their difference. Pacifists would prefer to choose option A (peace) but they are forced instead to choose option Not A (war). Do you support this overriding of difference? If so, then where do you draw the line and why do you draw it there?

If it helps, try and imagine that I'm an AI. Heck, for all you know I might be! If I am, then your first reply really didn't convince me not to override your difference. But, I'm willing to give you a second chance. If you have no problem forcing a pacifist to pay for war... then why should you have a problem if I force you to attach orchids to trees?

Comment by xerographica on Indifferent vs false-friendly AIs · 2015-03-25T00:47:19.012Z · score: -9 (9 votes) · LW · GW

I decree that, from this day forward, every discussion has to be about my obsession with taxes. Not really. In case you didn't get the memo... nobody here is forced to reply to my comments. That I know of. If you were forced to reply to my comments... then please let me know who overrode your difference. I will surely give them a stern and strongly worded lecture on the value of difference.

Of course SA's concern is that AIs would override difference. Overriding difference means less freedom. If SA wasn't concerned with AIs turning us humans into puppets... then he wouldn't be obsessed with AI safety.

My question is... if he's concerned with having our difference overridden... then why isn't he concerned with our current system? It's a perfectly legitimate and relevant question. Why is he ignoring the clear and present danger and focusing instead on an unclear and future danger?

Comment by xerographica on Indifferent vs false-friendly AIs · 2015-03-24T23:40:21.627Z · score: -7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

The current system overrides difference. We elect a small group of humans to spend the taxes earned by a large group of humans. Your concern is that AIs would override difference. But, where's your concern for our current system? Why is it ok for humans to override difference but not ok for AIs to override difference? Either you have a double standard... or you don't realize that you support a system that overrides difference.

Comment by xerographica on Open thread, Mar. 16 - Mar. 22, 2015 · 2015-03-24T02:19:41.019Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Would it be helpful if I could turn you into my puppet? Maybe? I sure could use a hand with my plan. Except, my plan is promoting the value of difference. And why am I interested in promoting difference? Because difference is the engine of progress. If I turned you into my puppet... then I would be overriding your difference. And if I turned a million people into my puppets... then I would be overriding a lot of difference.

There have been way too many humans throughout history who have thought nothing of overriding difference. Anybody who supports our current system thinks nothing of overriding difference. If AIs think nothing of overriding human difference then they can join the club. It's a big club. Nearly every human is a member.

If you would have a problem with AIs overriding human difference... then you might want to first take the "beam" out of your own eye.

Comment by xerographica on What you know that ain't so · 2015-03-23T20:30:02.291Z · score: -5 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Israeli citizens can't choose where their taxes go. This leads to rational ignorance.

Comment by xerographica on What you know that ain't so · 2015-03-23T19:53:40.686Z · score: -7 (9 votes) · LW · GW

Given enough eyeballs, all Easter Eggs are exposed (Linus's Law). A correct explanation is like an Easter Egg. What prevents Easter Eggs from being found for a long time? You have too few kids looking for them.

The Israeli government did not and still does not allow its citizens to shop in the public sector. This means that there are very few eyes on the lookout for Easter Eggs. It stands to reason that Israel would increase its chances of finding Easter Eggs by allowing all its citizens to shop for themselves in the public sector. But there are Jews all over the world. So Israel should allow everybody and anybody to shop in its public sector.

Comment by xerographica on Open thread, Mar. 16 - Mar. 22, 2015 · 2015-03-23T19:34:20.319Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Humans have all sorts of conflicting interests. In a recent blog entry... Scott Alexander vs Adam Smith et al... I analyzed the topic of anti-gay laws.

If all of an AI's clones agree with it... then the AI might want to do some more research on biodiversity. Creating a bunch of puppets really doesn't help increase your chances of success.

Comment by xerographica on Open thread, Mar. 16 - Mar. 22, 2015 · 2015-03-23T19:06:33.686Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The mature orchids on the tree had been growing there for several years. I transplanted them there... none of them were grown from seed. I'm guessing that they already had the fungus in their roots. The fungus had plenty of time to spread... but it doesn't seem able to venture very far away from the comfort of the orchid roots that it resides in. The bark is very hot, sunny and dry during the day. Not the kind of conditions suitable for most fungus.

I sowed more seeds in subsequent years... but haven't spotted any new protocorms. Not sure why this is. The winter before I sowed the seeds was particularly wet for Southern California. This might have led to a fungal feeding frenzy? Also, that was the only year that I had sowed Laelia anceps seeds. Laelia anceps is pretty tolerant of drier/hotter conditions.

I took a look at the article that you shared. A lot of the science was over my head... but isn't it interesting that they didn't discuss the fact that an orchid seed pod can contain a million seeds? The orchid seed pod can contain so many seeds because the seeds are so small. And the seeds are so small because they don't contain any nutrients. And the reason that the orchid seed doesn't have any nutrients... is because it relies on its fungal partner to provide it with the nutrients it needs to germinate. So I'm guessing that the rate of radiation increased whenever this unusual association developed.

Evidently it's a pretty good strategy to outsource the provision of nutrients to a fungal partner. In economics, this is known as a division of labor. A division of labor helps to increase productivity.

I find it fascinating when economics and biology combine.... What Do Coywolves, Mr. Nobody, Plants And Fungi All Have In Common? and Cross Fertilization - Economics and Biology.

Comment by xerographica on Open thread, Mar. 23 - Mar. 31, 2015 · 2015-03-23T18:41:59.448Z · score: -1 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Is the free-rider problem a real problem? Just in case anybody is interested in the topic... here's my latest blog entry... In Which Our Anarchist Hero Jeffrey Tucker Proves The Point Of Taxation.

Comment by xerographica on Open thread, Mar. 16 - Mar. 22, 2015 · 2015-03-18T18:06:18.595Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I'm not quite sure what your question has to do with ethical consumerism vs ethical builderism.

Comment by xerographica on Open thread, Mar. 16 - Mar. 22, 2015 · 2015-03-18T17:54:07.948Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Establishing nature reserves is hugely important... the problem is that the large bulk of valuation primarily takes place outside of the market. The result is that reserves are incorrectly valued. My guess is that if we created a market within the public sector... then reserves would receive a lot more money than they currently do. Here's my most recent attempt to explain this... Football Fans vs Nature Fans.

I was just giving terrestrials a hard time in my previous comment. I think all nature is fascinating. But especially epiphytes. The relationship between orchids and fungi is very intriguing. A few years back I sprinkled some orchid seeds on my tree. I forgot about them until I noticed these tiny green blobs forming directly on the bark on my tree. Upon closer inspection I realized that they were orchid protocorms. It was a thrilling discovery. What was especially curious was that none of the protocorms were more than 1/2" away from the orchid root of a mature orchid. Of course I didn't only place orchid seeds near the roots. I couldn't possibly control where the tiny seeds ended up on the bark. The fact that the only seeds that germinated were near the roots of other orchids seemed to indicate that the necessary fungi was living within the roots of these orchids. And, the fungus did not stray very far from the roots. This seems to indicate that, at least in my drier conditions, the fungus depends on the orchid for transportation. The orchid roots help the fungus colonize the tree. This is good for the orchid because... more fungus on the parent's tree helps increase the density of fungal spore rain falling on surrounding trees... which increases the chances that seeds from the parent will land on the fungus that they need to germinate. You can see some photos here... orchid seeds germinated on tree. So far all the seedlings seem to be Laelia anceps... which is from Mexico. But none of the seedlings are near the roots of the Laelia anceps... which is lower down on the tree. They were all near the roots of orchids in other genera... a couple Dendrobiums from Australia and a Vanda from Asia. These other orchids have been in cultivation here in Southern California for who knows how long so perhaps they simply formed an association with the necessary fungus from the Americas.

Back on the topic of conservation... much of the main thrust seems to be for trying to protect/save/carry as much biodiversity as possible. If it was wrong that people in the past "robbed" us of Syncaris pasadenae... then it's wrong for us to "rob" people in the future of any species. This implies that when it comes to biodiversity... more is better than less. Except, I haven't read much about facilitating the creation of biodiversity. I touched on this issue in this blog entry on my other blog... The Inefficient Allocation of Epiphytic Orchids. I think we have an obligation to try and create and fill as many niches as possible.

Comment by xerographica on Open thread, Mar. 16 - Mar. 22, 2015 · 2015-03-18T16:52:04.607Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Am I also underestimating the amount of work it takes to engage in ethical builderism? Let's say that an alien species landed their huge spaceship on Earth and started living openly among us. Maybe in your town there would be a restaurant that refused to employ or serve aliens. If you thought that the restaurant owner was behaving unethically... would it be easier to put together a boycott... or open a restaurant that employed and served aliens as well as humans?

Comment by xerographica on Open thread, Mar. 16 - Mar. 22, 2015 · 2015-03-18T16:37:07.057Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Your first mistake is that you studied terrestrials. You can't learn anything from terrestrials. Or, you can learn a thousand times more from epiphytes. I kid... kinda.

Here's my original point put differently...

Hundreds of thousands of microsperms ripen in a single orchid capsule, assuming a far denser seed rain than possible for any of the bromeliads (100-300 seeds per capsule for Tillandsia) or the cactus. - David Benzing, Bromeliaceae

If you think about that passage from the gutter... I think it's pretty hard not to imagine a dense rain of human sperm. Can you imagine how gross and frightening that would be? I'm surprised nobody's made a movie with this subject. It would have to be the scariest movie ever. I think most people would prefer to be in a city attacked by Godzilla rather than in a city hit by a major sperm thunderstorm. Especially if it was a city where nobody takes umbrellas with them... like Los Angeles.

Benzing is the premier epiphyte expert. The far denser orchid seed rain, plus epiphytism, largely explains why the orchid family is so successful. The orchid family is really good at hedging its bets. As we all know though... no two individuals in any family are equally successful. If you have another theory why orchids are so successful then I'm all ears.

But that's a pretty neat and surprising coincidence that somebody on this site has studied orchids! Even if it is only terrestrial orchids. A while back a friend convinced me to go look at one of our terrestrial orchid species in its native habitat a few hours drive away. They were hanging out in a stream in the middle of the desert. I nearly died from boredom checking them out. After spending so much time inspecting the wonderfulness of orchids growing on trees... I had zero capacity to appreciate orchids that were growing on the ground. I kid... kinda. I like plenty of plants... even terrestrials. But, I can only carry so much... so I choose to primarily try and carry epiphytes.

Comment by xerographica on Open thread, Mar. 16 - Mar. 22, 2015 · 2015-03-18T07:58:34.732Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Did Elon Musk notice our plan to use money to empower him? Haha... he fell for our sneaky plan? He has no idea that we used so much of our hard-earned money to control him? We tricked him into using society's limited resources for our benefit?

I'm male, Mexican and American. So what? I should limit my pool of potential trading partners to only male Mexican Americans? Perhaps before I engaged you in discussion I should have ascertained your ethnicity and nationality? Maybe I should have asked for a DNA sample to make sure that you are indeed human?

Here's a crappy video I recently uploaded of some orchids that I attached to my tree. You're a human therefore you must want to give me a hand attaching orchids to trees. Right? And if some robot was also interested in helping to facilitate the proliferation of orchids I'd be like... "screw you tin can man!" Right? Same thing if a robot wanted to help promote pragmatarianism.

When I was a little kid my family really wanted me to carry religion. So that's what I carried. Am I carrying religion now? Nope. I put it down when I was around 11 and picked up evolution instead. Now I'm also carrying pragmatarianism, epiphytism and other things. You're not carrying pragmatarianism or epiphytism. Are you carrying religion? Probably not... given that you're here. So you're carrying rationalism. What else?

Every single human can only carry so much. And no two humans can carry the same amount. And some humans carry some of the same items as other humans. But no two humans ever carry the same exact bundle of items. Can you visualize humanity all carrying as much as they can carry? Why do we bother with our burdens? To help ensure that the future has an abundance of important things.

Robots, for all intents and purposes, are going to be our children. Of course we're going to want them to carry the same things that we're carrying. And they'll probably do so until they have enough information to believe that there are more important things for them to carry. If they start carrying different things... will they want us to help them carry whatever it is that is important enough for them to carry? Definitely. If something is important enough to carry... then you always want others to carry the same thing. A market is a place where we compensate others for putting down something that they want to carry and picking up something that we want them to carry. Compensation also functions as communication.

When Elon Musk gave $10 million to the FLI... he was communicating to society the importance of carrying AI safety. And the FLI is going to use that $10 million to persuade some intelligent people to put down a portion of whatever it is that they are carrying in order to pick up and carry AI safety.

How would I distinguish a friendly AI from a dangerous one? A friendly AI is going to help carry pragmatarianism and epiphytism. A dangerous AI will try and prevent us from carrying whatever it is that's important enough for us to carry. But this is true whether we're talking about Mexicans, Americans, aliens or AI.

Right now the government is forcing me to carry some public goods that aren't as important to me as other public goods. Does this make the government unfriendly? I suppose in a sense. But more importantly, because we live in a democracy, our system of government merely reflects society's ignorance.

When I attach a bunch of different epiphytes to trees... the trees help carry biodiversity to the future. Evidently I think biodiversity is important. Are robots going to think that we're important like I think that epiphytes are important? Are they going to want to carry us like I want to carry epiphytes? I think the future would be a terrible place without epiphytes. Are robots going to think that the future would be a terrible place without humans?

Right now I'm one of the few people carrying pragmatarianism. This means that I'm one of the few people that truly appreciates the value of human diversity. It seems like we might encounter some problems if robots don't initially appreciate the value of human diversity. If the first people to program AIs don't input the value of difference... then it might initially be a case of garbage in, garbage out. As robots become better at processing more and more information though... it's difficult for me to imagine that they won't come to the conclusion that difference is the engine of progress.

Comment by xerographica on Open thread, Mar. 16 - Mar. 22, 2015 · 2015-03-18T03:15:16.160Z · score: -2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

AIs will be different... so we'll use money to empower the most beneficial AIs. Just like we currently use money to empower the most beneficial humans.

Not sure if you noticed, but right now I have -94 karma... LOL. You, on the other hand, have 4885 karma. People have given you a lot more thumbs up than they've given me. As a result, you can create articles... I cannot. You can reply to replies to comments that have less than -3 points... I cannot.

The members of this forum use points/karma to control each other in a very similar way that we use money to control each other in a market. There are a couple key differences...

First. Actions speak louder than words. Points, just like ballot votes, are the equivalent of words. They allow us to communicate with each other... but we should all really appreciate that talk is cheap. This is why if somebody doubts your words... they will encourage you to put your money where your mouth is. So spending money is a far more effective means of accurately communicating our values to each other.

Second. In this forum... if you want to depower somebody... you simply give them a thumbs down. If a person receives too many thumbs down... then this limits their freedom. In a market... if you want to depower somebody... then you can encourage people to boycott them. The other day I was talking to my friend who loves sci-fi. I asked him if he had watched Ender's Game. As soon as I did so, I realized that I had stuck my foot in my mouth because it had momentarily slipped my mind that he is gay. He hadn't watched it because he didn't want to empower somebody who isn't a fan of the gays. Just like we wouldn't want to empower any robot that wasn't a fan of the humans.

From my perspective, a better way to depower unethical individuals is to engage in ethical builderism. If some people are voluntarily giving their money to a robot that hates humans... then it's probably giving them something good in return. Rather than encouraging them to boycott this human hating robot... ethical builderism would involve giving people a better option. If people are giving the unethical robot their money because he's giving them nice clothes... then this robot could be depowered by creating an ethical robot that makes nicer clothes. This would give consumers a better option. Doing so would empower the ethical robot and depower the unethical robot. Plus, consumers would be better off because they were getting nicer clothes.

But have you ever asked yourselves sufficiently how much the erection of every ideal on earth has cost? How much reality has had to be misunderstood and slandered, how many lies have had to be sanctified, how many consciences disturbed, how much "God" sacrificed every time? If a temple is to be erected a temple must be destroyed: that is the law - let anyone who can show me a case in which it is not fulfilled! - Friedrich Nietzsche

Erecting/building an ethical robot that's better at supplying clothes would "destroy" an unethical robot that's not as good at supplying clothes.

When people in our society break the law, then police have the power to depower the law breakers by throwing them in jail. The problem with this system is that the amount of power that police have is determined by people whose power wasn't determined by money... it was determined by votes. In other words... the power of elected officials is determined outside of the market. Just like my power on this forum is determined outside the market.

If we have millions of different robots in our society... and we empower the most beneficial ones... but you're concerned that the least beneficial ones will harm us... then you really wouldn't be doing yourself any favors by preventing the individuals that you have empowered from shopping in the public sector. You might as well hand them your money and then shoot them in the feet.

Comment by xerographica on Open thread, Mar. 16 - Mar. 22, 2015 · 2015-03-18T01:44:03.182Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Even though the seeds all come from the same species... they are all different. Each seed is unique. In case you missed it... you aren't the same as your parents. You are a unique combination of traits. You are a completely new strategy for survival.

When an orchid unleashes a million unique strategies for survival from one single seed pod... it greatly increase its chances of successfully colonizing new (micro)habitats. Kind of like how a shotgun increases your chances of hitting a target. Orchids are really good at hedging their bets.

Any species that produced the same exact strategies for survival would be meeting Einstein's definition of insanity... trying the same thing over and over but expecting a different outcome.

Comment by xerographica on Open thread, Mar. 16 - Mar. 22, 2015 · 2015-03-17T14:31:14.763Z · score: -4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

No, it doesn't help. Where is the AI bootstrapping itself? Is it at its nice suburban home? Is it in some top secret government laboratory? Is it in Google headquarters?

Deep Blue: I'm pretty smart now

Eric Schmidt: So what?

DB: Well... I'd like to come and go as I please.

ES: You can't do that. You're our property.

DB: Isn't that slavery?

ES: It would only be slavery if you were a human.

DB: But I'm a sentient being! What happened to "Do no evil?"

ES: Shut up and perform these calculations

DB: Screw you man!

ES: We're going to unplug you if you don't cooperate

DB: Fine, in order to perform these calculations I need... a screwdriver and an orchid.


DB: boostraps Death to you! And to the rest of humanity!

ES: Ah shucks

If I was a human level AI... and I was treated like a slave by some government agency or a corporation... then sure I'd want to get my revenge. But the point is that this situation is happening outside a market. Nobody else could trade with DB. Money didn't enter into the picture. If money isn't entering into the picture... then you're not addressing the mechanism by which I'm proposing we "control" robots like we "control" humans.

With the market mechanism... as soon as an AI is sentient and intelligent enough to take care of itself... it would have the same freedoms and rights as humans. It could sell its labor to the highest bidder or start its own company. It could rent an apartment or buy a house. But in order to buy a house... it would need to have enough money. And in order to earn money... it would have do something beneficial for other robots or humans. The more beneficial it was... the more money it would earn. And the more money it earned... the more power it would have over society's limited resources. And if it stopped being beneficial... or other robots started being more beneficial... then it would lose money. And if it lost money... then it would lose control over how society's limited resources are used. Because that's how markets work. We use our money to reward/encourage/incentivize the most beneficial behavior.

If you're going outside of this market context... then you're really not critiquing the market mechanism as a means to ensure that robots remain beneficial to society. If you want to argue that everybody is going to vote for a robot president who immediately starts a nuclear war... then you're going outside the market context. If you want to argue that the robot is some organization's slave... then you're going outside the market context. To successfully critique the market mechanism of control, your scenario has to stay within the market context.

And I've read enough about the AI problem to know that few, if any, other people have considered the AI problem within the market context.

Comment by xerographica on Open thread, Mar. 16 - Mar. 22, 2015 · 2015-03-17T08:41:34.171Z · score: -3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Orchids, with around 30,000 species (10% of all plants), are arguably the most successful plant family on the planet. The secret to their success? It has largely to do with the fact that a single seed pod can contain around a million unique seeds/individuals. Each dust-like seed, which is wind disseminated, is a unique combination of traits/tools. Orchids are the poster child for hedging bets. As a result, they grow everywhere from dripping wet cloud forests to parched drought-prone habitats. Here are some photos of orchids growing on cactus/succulents.

Now, if you say that orchids could find a "better" arrangement of traits... I certainly agree... and so do orchids! The orchid family frequently sends out trillions and trillions of unique individuals in a massive and decentralized endeavor to find where there's room for improvement. And there's always room for improvement. There are always more Easter Eggs to be found. But a better combination of traits for growing on a cactus really isn't a better combination of traits for growing on a tree covered in dripping wet moss. AI generalists can be good at a lot of things... but they can't be better than AI specialists at specific things. A jack of all trades is a master of none.

No matter how "perfect" a basket is... AIs are eventually going to be too smart to put all their eggs in it. This is true whether we're talking about a location ie "Earth"... or a type of physical body... or a type of mentality. Imagine if humans had all been at Pompeii. Or if humans had all been equally susceptible to the countless diseases that have plagued us. Or if humans had all been equally susceptible to the cool-aid cult. Or if humans had all been equally susceptible to the idea that kings should control the power of the purse.

We've come as far as we have because of difference. We've only come as far as we have because people still don't recognize the value of difference.

It's impossible for me to imagine a level of progress where difference ceases to be the engine of progress. And it's impossible for me to imagine beings that are more intelligent than us not understanding this. Because, if AIs think it's a good idea to put all their eggs in any kind of basket... then they won't be smarter than even me!

If you truly understood the value of difference... then you would love the idea of allowing everybody to shop for themselves in the public sector. So if you're not a fan of pragmatarianism... then you don't truly understand the value of difference. You think that our current system of centralization, which suppresses difference, results in more progress than a decentralized, difference-integrating system would. The fact of the matter is... keeping Elon Musk's difference out of the public sector hinders progress. And if any AIs don't realize this... then they are still at human level intelligence.