Program good ethics into artificial intelligence 2016-10-19T16:28:40.542Z
Ethnography recommendations? 2014-06-11T16:41:36.309Z
Recommendation request: Budgeting/accounting software for a non-profit 2014-01-29T15:16:01.984Z
Plan while your ugh field is down 2014-01-23T17:42:51.726Z
Useful Habits Repository 2013-09-03T01:58:16.970Z
[LINK] Should we live to 1,000? 2012-12-11T16:59:19.755Z
All free Stanford classes, continually updated 2011-11-29T16:41:39.265Z
Rationality Dojo Examples? 2011-11-15T21:28:58.282Z
Meetup : Ottawa Meetup - Computational Complexity 2011-11-07T19:00:17.009Z
Meetup : Ottawa Meetup - Learning Linear Algebra 2 + Social 2011-10-14T20:22:54.141Z
Meetup : Ottawa Meetup - Learning Linear Algebra 2011-10-05T18:02:40.682Z
Meetup : Ottawa Weekly Monday LessWrong Meetup 2011-09-16T20:52:14.679Z
Meetup : Ottawa Weekly Meetup 2011-09-07T18:18:11.307Z
Meetup : Ottawa Weekly Monday LessWrong Meetup 2011-08-31T15:39:47.981Z
Meetup : Ottawa LessWrong Weekly Meetup 2011-08-09T15:38:32.385Z
[LINK] Get paid to train your rationality 2011-08-03T15:01:48.056Z
Meetup : Ottawa LessWrong Weekly Meetup 2011-08-02T20:28:34.378Z
Meetup : Ottawa LessWrong Weekly Meetup 2011-07-25T17:38:00.382Z
Meetup : Ottawa LessWrong Weekly(ish) Meetup 2011-07-18T14:59:32.453Z
Meetup : Ottawa LessWrong Weekly Meetup 2011-06-23T20:01:03.920Z
Ottawa meetup, Saturday May 14 6pm 2011-05-13T21:14:30.252Z
Ask LessWrong: Design a degree in Rationality. 2011-05-13T15:51:21.628Z
Meetup report: Darwin, Some Rationalists and the Joker [link] 2011-05-09T19:01:14.541Z
Mutable Levels Are Path-Dependent 2011-05-06T20:47:02.976Z
More art, less stink: Taking the PU out of PUA 2010-09-10T00:25:59.829Z
Recommended reading for new rationalists 2009-07-09T19:47:02.279Z


Comment by XFrequentist on Speculations Concerning the First Free-ish Prediction Market · 2021-04-01T13:46:09.266Z · LW · GW

you really could have been the first mover on a few of these new enterprises back in 2021 if you had brainstormed a bit. Describe one of them.


  • Curated data services for forecasting.
  • High-trust paid newsletter/research service oriented around interesting markets. Maintain a publicly-verifiable scoreboard linked to market positions to demonstrate reliability.
  • Insurance markets - take an extreme position as a catastrophe hedge, use this to subsidize market making.
  • Social network - rationales and discussion for various markets. Content discovery algorithms could include historic accuracy so truth propagates more easily.
  • Infrastructure to annotate opinion pieces with concrete predictions, link to market positions.
  • ... [will update if more occur to me]
Comment by XFrequentist on What are you surprised people don't just buy? · 2017-02-13T18:37:33.102Z · LW · GW

Lots of things, but the biggest win is probably snow removal services.

For $200 a year I save several dozen hours of drudgery, there's no management/coordination overhead to speak of, and my plow guy does a better job than I would have.

Comment by XFrequentist on What's the most annoying part of your life/job? · 2016-10-31T16:07:50.440Z · LW · GW

The commentary below has focused on child care - a more salient pain point for our demographic, surely - but the "elder care" angle actually seems much more promising. Still labor-intensive, but fewer regulatory nightmares (?).

Note there are some very large regional players in this game, but there don't appear to be any Starbucks-size winners (so says my wife, who often works with the elderly).

Comment by XFrequentist on Program good ethics into artificial intelligence · 2016-10-31T16:02:12.245Z · LW · GW

Thanks! LW was malfunctioning when I posted this, otherwise I would have.

Comment by XFrequentist on What's the most annoying part of your life/job? · 2016-10-24T14:25:27.110Z · LW · GW


Also, schlep alert: this might be the densest regulatory thicket outside of healthcare, with huge variation in standards at (at least?) the state/province level. In my little environment of 13 million Ontarians, a recent arbitrary change of the teacher/child ratio allegedly drove a good many daycares out of business.

Also, parents are insane (source: am parent).

Comment by XFrequentist on Now is the time to eliminate mosquitoes · 2016-08-19T18:47:12.924Z · LW · GW

Assemble a group of scientists who on their own could eradicate mosquitoes and just do it. Don't wait for official approval.

The appeal of this route is obvious, but I don't think it should be discussed on a public forum.

Comment by XFrequentist on Now is the time to eliminate mosquitoes · 2016-08-19T14:54:22.989Z · LW · GW

Agreed! What would be the best approach (I'm a PhD student and vector-borne disease epidemiologist)?

  • Writing one or more popular/lay articles
  • Writing one or more technical/scholarly articles
  • Writing a popular/lay book
  • Writing a technical/scholarly book
  • Starting an advocacy non-profit
  • Performing an explicit cost-benefit analysis
  • Modelling to determine the necessary conditions for eradication
  • Something else... ?
Comment by XFrequentist on Lesswrong 2016 Survey · 2016-03-27T18:44:41.025Z · LW · GW

Yar, have taken the scurvy survey, says I!

Comment by XFrequentist on To contribute to AI safety, consider doing AI research · 2016-01-20T18:32:54.332Z · LW · GW

Your definition what counts as "AI related" seems to be narrower than mine, but fine. I trust readers can judge whether the linked resources are of interest.

Comment by XFrequentist on To contribute to AI safety, consider doing AI research · 2016-01-19T19:01:16.349Z · LW · GW

... quite a lot, no?

Comment by XFrequentist on To contribute to AI safety, consider doing AI research · 2016-01-17T22:28:49.227Z · LW · GW

Well, there's this ...

[ETA: link is to MIRI's research guide, some traditional AI but more mathy/philosophical. Proceed with caution.]

Comment by XFrequentist on Why CFAR's Mission? · 2016-01-12T17:25:15.717Z · LW · GW

(The alignment of both goals and methods between CFAR and the IC is, I think, under-exploited by both.)

Comment by XFrequentist on Optimizing Rationality T-shirts · 2015-11-13T21:36:43.325Z · LW · GW

It might be a bit obscure, but it's not LW jargon!

Comment by XFrequentist on Why Don't Rationalists Win? · 2015-09-12T19:08:50.014Z · LW · GW

I got waaay too far into this before I realized what you were doing... so well done!

Comment by XFrequentist on Crazy Ideas Thread · 2015-07-09T13:23:19.643Z · LW · GW

Why limit it to the Americas?

Proof of concept, capacity, and feasibility. I'd love to see this done for all disease-carrying mosquitoes, but you've got to start somewhere.

can a lethal mutation be self-perpetuating?

Yes. I'm actually not sure if this would work at a continental scale (or rather, how many modified mosquito releases would be required, is this number infeasible, etc). This is something I'm interested in modelling.

Comment by XFrequentist on Crazy Ideas Thread · 2015-07-09T03:25:59.727Z · LW · GW

Aedes aegypti (the "Dengue mosquito") should be eradicated from the Americas by releasing genetically-modified mosquitoes carrying self-perpetuating lethal mutations.

Comment by XFrequentist on Human factors research seems very relevant to rationality · 2015-06-26T19:20:53.678Z · LW · GW

I've delved into this literature a bit while researching a (currently shelved) paper on automation-associated error, and I agree with the title of this post!

Comment by XFrequentist on [LINK] Author's Note 119: Shameless Begging · 2015-03-12T16:53:53.471Z · LW · GW

Your confusion is a clever ruse, but your username gives away your true motives!

Comment by XFrequentist on [LINK] Author's Note 119: Shameless Begging · 2015-03-11T18:21:46.641Z · LW · GW

Self-perpetuating area-wide techniques like mass release of modified mosquitoes with gene-drive systems is very probably a superior answer if the problem is "there are too many (ie any) human-feeding mosquitoes".

If the problem is rather "what is the coolest-sounding possible way to wipe out mosquitoes", then drone-mounted lasers are in the running.

Comment by XFrequentist on Comments on "When Bayesian Inference Shatters"? · 2015-01-08T05:18:25.802Z · LW · GW

I call forth the mighty Cyan!

Comment by XFrequentist on Non-obvious skills with highly measurable progress? · 2015-01-04T22:11:49.193Z · LW · GW

I credit an undergrad summer job in door-to-door sales for moving my social skills from "terrible" to "good". For that particular job we literally had a points system that was visible to everyone in the office (and determined incentives like fully-paid vacations abroad), and you'd sell enough on a daily basis that you knew roughly how you were doing (ie 5 sales was a decent day, 10 outstanding, 2 bad, out of perhaps 100 interactions), so it was a near-perfect training ground.

Comment by XFrequentist on Harper's Magazine article on LW/MIRI/CFAR and Ethereum · 2014-12-16T18:41:06.451Z · LW · GW

I know who this is. If he doesn't out himself I'll PM you with contact info.

Comment by XFrequentist on Fighting Mosquitos · 2014-11-25T15:20:26.155Z · LW · GW

Just some epistemic hygiene: Janet Fang is a journalist, this quote is from a (good) non-scientific article, and the basis for this statement is a collection of (mostly expert) opinions.

I happen to share this opinion, but I don't think this quote should be given very much weight in anyone's risk evaluation.

Comment by XFrequentist on Fighting Mosquitos · 2014-11-25T15:16:27.817Z · LW · GW

One issue is the same intervention doesn't necessarily affect both. For example, where I live West Nile virus is transmitted primarily by Culex pippiens mosquitoes, while the most abundant nuisance mosquito is Ochlerotatus stimulans.

Controlling one species will not greatly affect the other (they breed in radically different conditions). It's not a matter of scaling up operations; you need an entirely different strategy, with commensurate increase in operating costs, complexity, potential failure points, etc etc.

Give me unlimited resources and global remit and I'll take them all out, absent this prioritisation becomes necessary.

Comment by XFrequentist on The "best" mathematically-informed topics? · 2014-11-15T19:30:41.230Z · LW · GW

[Hey, I thought I was the token epidemiologist! ;) ]

I largely agree with Anders' comment (leave Pearl be for now; it's a difficult book), but there are some interesting non-causal mathy epidemiology topics that might suit your needs.

Concretely: study networks. Specifically, pick up the book Networks, Crowds, and Markets: Reasoning about a Highly Connected World (or download the free pdf, or take the free MOOC).

It presents a smooth slope of increasing mathematical sophistication (assuming only basic high school math at the outset), and is endlessly interesting as it gently builds and extends concepts. It eventually touches many of the topics you've indicated interest in (game theory, voting, epidemic dynamics, etc), giving you some powerful mathematical tools to reason with. Advanced sections are clearly marked as such, and can be passed over without losing coherence.

And hey, if the math in the advanced sections frustrates your understanding... that's basically what you've said you want!

Comment by XFrequentist on A discussion of heroic responsibility · 2014-10-30T04:15:54.983Z · LW · GW

Ooh ooh, do mine!

Comment by XFrequentist on 2014 Less Wrong Census/Survey · 2014-10-25T04:13:28.849Z · LW · GW

Done did the survey!

Comment by XFrequentist on Fighting Mosquitos · 2014-10-17T17:14:08.784Z · LW · GW

I don't see any reason to only target those that transmit diseases. Target ones that are simply annoying because they string the average person, gives everyone a clear reason to support the proposal.

This is a good point - in fact, a distinction is usually drawn between "nuisance" and "disease vector" mosquito control (they can involve very different operations), and I've heard very knowledgeable people say that the only way to maintain public support for a control program is if there's a strong nuisance component. You may be right on this, but note that I never contended otherwise (albopictus is both an efficient disease vector and a major nuisance).

If you have to continue paying a few million each year to keep the mosquito population near zero that's no problem for any industrialized country if there's public will.

Oh sure, but that's not eradication! There are lots of mosquito population suppression programs around the world, many paid for with public funds (particularly in areas with lots of outdoor tourism and a strong local business influence in municipal politics). Programs like this work at even vastly sub-country spatial scales, but as you say you need to keep doing them year in year out. Part of the beauty of eradication is no longer needing ongoing investment.

Don't worry as far as biological imprecision goes. [...] I would certainly invest the necessary effort [...]


According to the map on Wikipedia we don't have any aedes albopictus in Germany but 4 neighboring countries have them. That means that it's not a valid target for German activism. Otherwise do you disagree with that map?

Well, species distribution maps are notoriously tricky to get right, but suppose it's right. The beauty of albopictus as a target is it's a highly invasive species, happy to set up shop anywhere a little pot of water with some organic residue can be found (and perhaps an annual mean temperature >11C, though I'm not convinced by the data on this). I would imagine Germany is at risk of invasion, which is an awesome opportunity for activism - (almost) no one minds local eradication of an invasive species!

Comment by XFrequentist on Fighting Mosquitos · 2014-10-17T03:41:51.810Z · LW · GW

Sleeping sickness is transmitted by the Tsetse fly, which is not a mosquito. Even ignoring this I'm unsure what the effect on sleeping sickness has to do with environmental impact - this is the target effect of the program, no?

Comment by XFrequentist on Fighting Mosquitos · 2014-10-17T03:35:40.003Z · LW · GW

(Please take this as constructive, as I very much want to see the global eradication of biting mosquitoes occur.)

I think this specific proposal (an online petition/Facebook activism) is naive and likely counter-productive. I feel like I should be docked several thousand Initiative Points for saying this, but please don't do as you propose.

For starters, you cannot say "mosquitoes" - as others have pointed out, there are ~3500 separate mosquito species, only ~100 bite humans, and only several dozen transmit disease. Narrowness is a virtue here, and this level of biological imprecision could alienate potential allies who will take you as reckless and uninformed.

(A related point is that the most promising interventions for eradication (like the sterile insect technique) are species specific, so it makes sense to start with the highest-priority target. Because [complex chain of reasoning to fill in later], I think aedes albopictus is likely the best bet.)

Also, I don't think country-level eradication plans (even for a single species) have the slightest chance of working long-term due to persistent re-invasion risk. A continent- or hemisphere-scale plan would be required, which comes with the commensurate coordination problems, and is much less likely to be aided by petition.

Additionally, don't underestimate the potential for politicization of such a program. Raising it to the level of public awareness without a good communication plan is premature.

Finally, many folks have entirely reasonable concerns about downstream effects that really do deserve sober analysis. I think it's likely that effects on other species or ecosystem stability will be negligible (or at least worth the cost), but that's an empirical question that deserves serious attention. As someone else pointed out, this is probably the key objection to overcome, so you might want to invest some effort in alleviating it upfront.

(All that said, it's awesome that you're thinking about this seriously. The eradication proposal is sort of my favourite idea ever, so please PM me if you'd like to discuss it further offline.)

Comment by XFrequentist on Meetup : Toronto: Meet Malo from MIRI · 2014-06-11T14:28:05.493Z · LW · GW

That's extremely generous of you!

Comment by XFrequentist on LessWrong as social catalyst · 2014-04-29T00:43:59.598Z · LW · GW

Me too!

Comment by XFrequentist on Community overview and resources for modern Less Wrong meetup organisers · 2014-04-06T17:45:02.222Z · LW · GW

Nice, upvoted.

Are you planning to update this post with NY, Austin, etc, or are these to be separate posts?

Aside: "salon)" maps neatly to a type of semi-social semi-structured meetup that seems to arise pretty often. Glad to have a name for it, thanks!

Comment by XFrequentist on Open Thread: March 4 - 10 · 2014-03-04T15:38:20.507Z · LW · GW

I'm experiencing this now (with about six months still on the clock). Anything you wish you'd implemented pre-kids?

Comment by XFrequentist on [RESCHEDULED] NYC Rationality Megameetup and Unconference: 4/5 - 4/6 · 2014-02-18T14:35:37.839Z · LW · GW

Me, 95%

Comment by XFrequentist on Find a study partner · 2014-01-24T18:35:56.085Z · LW · GW

That's currently sitting on my desk, staring at me suggestively.

I've got borderline too much stuff on the go right now, but depending on what you're looking for in a partner I might be interested. Just FYI, I don't believe this book contains any exercises (although we could work through the examples).

If you're willing to wait until March to start, I'm definitely interested!

Comment by XFrequentist on Plan while your ugh field is down · 2014-01-23T19:05:34.497Z · LW · GW

Well, I didn't deliberately disassociate myself from the situation, I was just structurally barred from action.

I guess if "clone" is "Tuesday me" then your description is otherwise a decent abstraction.

Is this a known technique? It sounds useful, kind of Stanovich-ey.

Comment by XFrequentist on [Link] Good Judgment Project, Season Three · 2013-12-03T16:59:31.867Z · LW · GW

Same story for me this season. Check out SciCast, I have much higher hopes.

Comment by XFrequentist on Useful Habits Repository · 2013-09-04T15:30:13.044Z · LW · GW

Thanks! I liked your article a great deal.

Comment by XFrequentist on Useful Habits Repository · 2013-09-04T15:28:41.584Z · LW · GW

One useful thing is to start with the tinyest habit possible, and not worry about optimality for the habit forming period.

Yup. The Tiny Habits program I linked in the post is built around this approach. 2 seconds rather than 2 minutes, but same idea.

Comment by XFrequentist on The Best Textbooks on Every Subject · 2013-08-12T19:36:29.867Z · LW · GW

There are better places to learn about MCMC approximation.

Any in particular? I came to this thread seeking exactly this.

Comment by XFrequentist on Useful Questions Repository · 2013-08-05T20:13:20.765Z · LW · GW

"Is this a science problem, or an engineering problem?"

Reading the lengthy discussion of this distinction in Eric Drexler's Radical Abundance made problems in several projects I've worked on recently seem much more solvable.

From Drexler's blog:

Science and engineering are inseparable domains of thought and action, linked by a shared language of mass and energy, molecules and thermodynamics, physical systems and physical law. This shared language makes communication deceptively easy — easy, because scientists and engineers can see every detail in the same way; deceptive, because they see these details in different contexts, forming different patterns and presenting different problems. In a fundamental sense, science and engineering are antiparallel, facing in opposite directions. The resulting gaps in understanding can open a chasm wide enough to trip a manager, or to swallow a project. [Emphasis added]


While science aims (ideally) to produce exact descriptions of all parameters of all members of a general class of physical systems, engineering aims to manufacture instances of a single kind of system, making choices to ensure that its functional parameters will equal or exceed those specified by a design description.

Likewise, while science aims to formulate a single theory that exactly fits all parameters of every description, engineering aims to design at least one description of a system having functional parameters that equal or exceed those required by one of a potential multiplicity of system concepts.

In this connection, is a proliferation of possible ways of satisfying a constraint good, or bad? In science, finding more possibilities creates greater uncertainty; in engineering, finding more possibilities provides greater freedom of design. This is a basic question with opposite answers — and there are many more.

Science and engineering share a language of physical systems and physical law, but they ask different questions, seek different knowledge, and serve different ends. The ramifications range from different views of the non-linear system dynamics to differences in working relationships and institutions. The consequences are pervasive and deep, familiar and surprising, and extend far beyond what I have sketched here.


Comment by XFrequentist on Instrumental rationality/self help resources · 2013-07-20T00:31:15.966Z · LW · GW

Master Your Workday Now! - Michael Linenberger

Recommended to me by pjeby, this is the most CfAR-ey personal productivity book that I've read. I would recommend it over GTD, as it incorporates many of the same insights into IMO a better overall system.

Comment by XFrequentist on Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality discussion thread, part 24, chapter 95 · 2013-07-18T14:23:08.792Z · LW · GW

Yup. Was about to make a similar comment. Hyperventillation will not hyper-oxygenate the brain.

That said, the "hyper-oxygenated brain -> brain function" hypothesis has been raised to the level of our attention for a very bad reason. We should let it die.

Comment by XFrequentist on Optimizing for attractiveness · 2013-05-31T18:55:23.078Z · LW · GW

I've been curious about this for a while. Could you describe your experience a bit?

Comment by XFrequentist on Post ridiculous munchkin ideas! · 2013-05-29T19:38:09.741Z · LW · GW

I'd be interested in hearing more about your training experience; I'm sure the USAF and the like have discovered more than a few interesting behavioral hacks!

Comment by XFrequentist on The Centre for Applied Rationality: a year later from a (somewhat) outside perspective · 2013-05-29T03:09:54.276Z · LW · GW

(They were in fact $600 + travel).

Comment by XFrequentist on Best causal/dependency diagram software for fluid capture? · 2013-04-10T03:34:01.820Z · LW · GW

There's a few settings you should tweak at the beginning

Deets? I use yEd all the time, but I've never made any tweaks.

Comment by XFrequentist on Rationality Habits I Learned at the CFAR Workshop · 2013-03-11T19:06:34.459Z · LW · GW

Understandable, this just seems like an odd way to redact the details. A footnote or something would have made it more obvious what you were doing.

Comment by XFrequentist on Rationality Habits I Learned at the CFAR Workshop · 2013-03-10T19:07:50.759Z · LW · GW

During conversation, Julia Galef and I came up with the idea of *.