Clarification: Behaviourism & Reinforcement 2012-10-10T05:30:21.494Z


Comment by Zaine on Open thread, 7-14 July 2014 · 2014-07-08T03:56:24.773Z · LW · GW

I have a friend on business in San Francisco with some free time Tuesday afternoon. Do any of you have a recommendation of how they should spend that time, outside of general suggestions as might be listed here?

Comment by Zaine on Polling Thread · 2014-01-23T18:31:01.026Z · LW · GW

"I believe that there is a biological variance in intelligence and insufficient information to allow for accurate qualitative analysis."

Your null hypothesis of each question assumes the difference, if present, will favour males; regardless of the theory's specifics, if you wish to gather fully rounded data on the opinions of your population, you must needs allow for that in the questions. If there's a theory that blue is finest on a Winter's day, and you wish to find out what people think of it, you must counter the inherent priming of the theory by including such options as, "Blue is finest on a Summer's day," and, "Blue is never the finest during day"; think of what the theory tries to answer. In these cases: the intersection of biology and intellectual variance between the sexes, and at what time is blue finest on Earth (you also may include, "Blue is finest on a Winter's day in Greenland, but in Madagascar finest on a Fall's day.")

Comment by Zaine on Rationalists Are Less Credulous But Better At Taking Ideas Seriously · 2014-01-23T18:15:48.456Z · LW · GW

Ah, then the purpose for my question is rendered moot. If it was an original coining, I wished to know the thought process that went into deciding, "Yes, I shall prime thusly."

Comment by Zaine on Rationalists Are Less Credulous But Better At Taking Ideas Seriously · 2014-01-21T19:05:48.495Z · LW · GW

For how long did you deliberate upon whether, or what did you think whilst deciding to go with 'Gallant' and 'Goofus'?

Comment by Zaine on AALWA: Ask any LessWronger anything · 2014-01-16T16:51:44.008Z · LW · GW

Intriguing, and thank you for the detailed reply. May I respond in the future should I have further queries?

Comment by Zaine on I Will Pay $500 To Anyone Who Can Convince Me To Cancel My Cryonics Subscription · 2014-01-13T19:59:30.435Z · LW · GW

I considered that, but the words seemed too different to result from a typo; I'm interested to learn the fact of the matter.

I've edited the grandparent to accommodate your interpretation.

Comment by Zaine on AALWA: Ask any LessWronger anything · 2014-01-13T19:17:29.361Z · LW · GW

What's the current thinking on how to prevent physiological decay over time (id est ageing)? Figure a way to recover the bits of DNA cleaved in mitosis?

Comment by Zaine on I Will Pay $500 To Anyone Who Can Convince Me To Cancel My Cryonics Subscription · 2014-01-13T00:05:04.970Z · LW · GW

We need to stop and (biologically) define life and death for a moment. A human can be cryogenically frozen before or after their brain shuts down; in either case, their metabolism will cease all function. This is typically a criterion of death. However if, when reanimated, the human carries on as they would from a wee kip, does this mean they have begun a new life? resumed their old life after a sojourn to the Underworld?

You see the quandary our scenario puts to this definition of life, for the waterbear does the exact above. They will suspend their metabolism, which can be considered death, reanimate when harsh environmental conditions subside, and go about their waterbearing ways. Again, do the waterbears live a subset of multiple lives within the set of one life? Quite confusing to think about, yes?

Now let's redefine life.

A waterbear ceases all metabolic activity, resumes it, then lumbers away. In sleep, one's state pre- and post-sleep will differ; one wakes up with changed neuronal connections, yet considers themselves the same person - or not, but let's presume they do. Take, then, the scenario in which one's state pre- and post-sleep does not differ; indeed, neurophysiologically speaking, it appears they've merely paused then recommenced their brain's processes, just as the time 1:31:00 follows 1:30:59.

This suggests that biological life depends not on metabolic function, but on the presence of an organised system of (metabolic) processes. If the system maintains a pristine state, then it matters not how much time has passed since it last operated; the life of the system's organism will end only when when that system becomes so corrupted as to lose the capacity for function. Sufficient corruption might amount to one specalated synapse; it might amount to a missing ganglion. Thus cyrogenics' knottiness.

As to whether they experience verification, you'll have to query a waterbear yourself. More seriously, for any questions on waterbear experience I refer you to a waterbear, or a waterbear philosopher. As to whether and to what degree they experience sensation when undergoing cryptobiosis, we can test to find out, but any results will be interpreted through layers of extrapolation: "Ganglion A was observed inhibiting Ganglion B via neurotransmitter D binding postsynaptic alpha receptors upon tickling the watebear's belly; based on the conclusions of Researchers et. al., this suggests the waterbear experienced either mildly positive or extremely negative sensation."

Comment by Zaine on I Will Pay $500 To Anyone Who Can Convince Me To Cancel My Cryonics Subscription · 2014-01-12T07:50:44.255Z · LW · GW

We'd need to have a means of differentiating the subject waterbear's behaviour from other waterbears; while not exhaustive, classically conditioning a modified reflexive reaction to stimuli (desensitisation, sensitisation) or inducing LTP or LTD on a synapse, then testing whether the adaptations were retained post-reanimation, would be a starting point.

The problem comes when you try to extrapolate success in the above experiment to mean potential for more complex organisms to survive the same procedure given x. Ideally you would image all of the subjects synapses pre-freeze or pre-cryobiosis (depending on what x turns out to be), then image them again post-reanimation, and have a program search for discrepancies. Unfortunately, the closest we are to whole-brain imaging is neuronal fluorescence imaging, which doesn't light up every synapse. Perhaps it might if we use transcranial DC or magnetic stimulation to activate every cell in the brain; doing so may explode a bunch of cells, too. I've just about bent over the conjecture tree by this point.

Comment by Zaine on I Will Pay $500 To Anyone Who Can Convince Me To Cancel My Cryonics Subscription · 2014-01-12T00:25:23.309Z · LW · GW

To keep the information all in one place, I'll reply here.

Cryogenic preservation exists in the proof of tardigrades - also called waterbears - which can reanimate from temperatures as low as 0.15 K, and have sufficient neurophysiological complexity to enable analysis of neuronal structural damage.

We don't know if the identity of a given waterbear pre-cyrobiosis is preserved post-reanimation. For that we'd need a more complex organism. However, the waterbear is idiosyncratic in its capacity for preservation; while it proves the possibility for cyrogenic preservation exists, we ourselves do not have the traits of the waterbear that facilitate its capacity for preservation.

In the human brain, there are billions of synapses - to what neurones other neurones connect, we call the connectome: this informs who you are. According to our current theoretical and practical understanding of how memories work, if synapses degrade even the slightest amount your connectome will change dramatically, and will thus represent a different person - perhaps even a lesser human (fewer memories, etcetera).

Now, let's assume uploading becomes commonplace and you mainly care about preserving your genetic self rather than your developed self (you without most of your memories and different thought processes vs. the person you've endeavoured to become), so any synaptic degradation of subsistence brain areas becomes irrelevant. What will the computer upload? Into what kind of person will your synapses reorganise? Even assuming they will reorganise might ask too much of the hypothetical.

Ask yourself who - or what - you would like to cyropreserve; the more particular your answer, the more science needed to accommodate the possibility.

Comment by Zaine on [Link] Valproic acid, a drug for brain plasticity · 2014-01-07T09:06:50.106Z · LW · GW

Would this include humans less than four years of age?

Comment by Zaine on What is the evidence in favor of paleo? · 2014-01-07T08:51:01.911Z · LW · GW

Thanks - that's quite useful.

Comment by Zaine on Halloween thread - rationalist's horrors. · 2013-11-06T01:49:57.451Z · LW · GW

Did your eyelids have a view of a lit clock?

Comment by Zaine on Advice for a smart 8-year-old bored with school · 2013-10-14T19:15:49.209Z · LW · GW

Thank you! I'm curious what they do in their free time: do they have creative hobbies, how do they socialise, what do your kids and their friends think of your kids' schooling, etc.

What are your thoughts regarding languages, for both human and computer interaction?

Thank you again for sharing!

Comment by Zaine on Advice for a smart 8-year-old bored with school · 2013-10-12T14:15:48.593Z · LW · GW

If you wouldn't mind, please share either your curricula or the method used to design it - whichever is most generally applicable.

Comment by Zaine on Advice for a smart 8-year-old bored with school · 2013-10-11T04:26:10.644Z · LW · GW

Hope it helps! Does that mean he has access to Academy resources, and could attend should he wish it?

Comment by Zaine on The selfish reason to write something for Ada Lovelace Day · 2013-10-11T04:10:31.546Z · LW · GW

Never seriously, I hope. I have yet to stop laughing.

Comment by Zaine on The selfish reason to write something for Ada Lovelace Day · 2013-10-11T01:11:38.090Z · LW · GW

I decided to delete the text of my first comment, as it dealt with what sex by rationalists would look like, rather than erotica fantasising rational decision making; the first is available upon request.

Minerva couldn't remember the last time she'd felt this nervous. She'd redone her hair knot at least twice now, and she still couldn't tear herself away from the mirror. Half of her wanted to be convinced it was out of respect for the man. That half was a dirty liar. Almost as dirty as her thoughts of the last hour.

A knock came at the door.

"Enter, please."

The way he derived partial transfiguration by extrapolating observable reality to its logical conclusions was just so sexy.

Comment by Zaine on Advice for a smart 8-year-old bored with school · 2013-10-10T22:04:56.150Z · LW · GW

I'll brainstorm suggestions, then.

  • Ask him if there's a language he'd like to learn. If there is, provide him materials to learn the basics (grammar, alphabet, fundamentals) and promise to send him to a language school that immerses you for x months during a break.

  • Ask him if he'd like tutored instruction in a subject; if he would, then, as others suggest, enslave a grad student.

  • Gift him a "Learn X the Hard Way" book. Alternatives include Real Python; I don't know what else they include.

  • Ask him if he has any life goals. If they are scientific in origin, take the goals seriously, lay out some milestones that might help in achieving them, and utilise Davidson's resources for all they're worth (including people).

  • Ask if he'd like to learn an instrument and/or how to sing, with instruction in music theory being another option. Accommodate.

  • Ask if he'd like to learn a martial art, and if he has any preferences. You could ask him this after taking him to a demonstration of the Shaolin Monks. If he has an interest in oriental languages, instruction in the language he's learning offers a practical immersive environment.

  • Have family writing competitions - everyone writes a brief story together by candlelight for a set period of time. Comment on the stories afterwards, and everyone can vote on a favourite should they have one.

  • Offer instruction in Go.

  • See if you can work out a way to direct all his instruction in the classes that bore him towards producing something of value. In the humanities, this could amount to historical fiction set in the learnt time period, limericks about the mechanics of Linguistics, or analytical essays (should he like that sort of thing). In maths, challenge him to derive established proofs himself without telling him the proof beforehand, or teach with the frame of covering the knowledge necessary for solving a current problem in mathematics. In science, tell a story of the scientist who ran a particularly important experiment, or set of experiments; inform him what the scientist observed, and ask him to design an experiment testing that observation with varying aims. You could also just tell the story, if the one teaching is a good enough storyteller (exempli gratia Seven Ideas that Shook the Universe, by Spielberg and Anderson - although it doesn't actually teach the subjects).

  • Give him a yet-to-be assembled computer with a completely empty drive, books on how computers work, books on how software communicates with computers, and let him play.

  • Teach him skills known by the people he's studying, but not us, concurrent with his studies of those people: calligraphy, perspective art, court decorum, honorifics, hunting for sustenance, foraging, needlework, thread and wool weaving, soap creation, candle creation, paper manufacture, eyeglass manufacture, architecture, sailing, letter-writing, mercury ingestion, plague avoidance, honour, swordsmanship, fear of the inquisition, etc.

I'm curious - Davidson markets itself as solving boring instruction; what about it does he find uninteresting?

Comment by Zaine on Advice for a smart 8-year-old bored with school · 2013-10-09T23:16:42.712Z · LW · GW

There's the Davidson Academy.

If he hasn't learned algebra yet, get him DragonBox; I'd be curious to learn whether he prefers explicit instruction.

Comment by Zaine on The Anti-Placebo Effect · 2013-09-30T17:06:03.952Z · LW · GW

I didn't know this, and if there are other instances, would like to know all of them. Thank you!

Comment by Zaine on The Anti-Placebo Effect · 2013-09-29T14:04:31.033Z · LW · GW

In the placebo effect, you try something, see results, and believe those results derived from what you tried, when in fact what you tried could not possibly have had any effect whatsoever; the observed results are then attributed to one's beliefs that the tried thing had the capacity for effecting change.

The above refers to a different phenomenon: one tries something, doesn't see results, and believes what they tried had no effect, when in fact what they tried did have results.

In the placebo effect, one's beliefs effect change. In the phenomenon Shannon refers to, change occurs regardless of one's beliefs.

Interestingly, when I presented the above description of the placebo effect to someone and asked for what they would expect of the opposite, they replied, "Change happens and they don't believe it." I would think the term, "Opposite-Placebo Effect" or "Opposite of the Placebo Effect" a better descriptor, as 'anti-' implies simple negation rather than a flipping of observed effects.

This could of course just be an issue of differing perspectives on what is or isn't an intuitive moniker.

Comment by Zaine on AI ebook cover design brainstorming · 2013-09-29T02:22:35.861Z · LW · GW

You're right. I was assuming we might parlay for subjugation; you made me realise that whatever marginal benefit our assistance would confer the uFAI, the marginal chance of our destroying the uFAI precludes enslaved coexistence.

Comment by Zaine on Ketogenic Soylent · 2013-09-28T05:42:49.298Z · LW · GW

It increases the ratio of the main inhibitory neurotransmitter (GABA) of the cortex to the main excitatory neurotransmitter (glutamate) relative to a brain that's not keto-adapted. Vide for theories on why we observe this phenomenon. This makes strict ketogenic dieting a viable treatment for reducing seizures in epileptics. In non-epileptics, I've been told some claim a 'zen' feeling when in ketosis. Objectively, more inhibition means less firing of neurons, and less firing of neurons can either be a good or bad thing. With more inhibition comes more control, which could increase focus at the expense of creative insight. Relegating problems to the subconscious might become a less useful solution to overcoming mindblocks, while at the same time lightening unwanted cognitive load.

Comment by Zaine on Ketogenic Soylent · 2013-09-27T13:50:39.142Z · LW · GW

That's true in humans, not just dogs? Good to know, if so.

Comment by Zaine on AI ebook cover design brainstorming · 2013-09-27T10:38:10.825Z · LW · GW

Of a dark, scfi-fi blue hue:
Extending from the left towards the centre of the cover is a translucent plastic computer screen we view from behind, through which we see complicated code displayed in white text. Beyond the screen is arena seating, reminiscent of the UN, with world leaders's heads fallen dead at their desks, beside their country's flag-emblazoned name plate.

Comment by Zaine on Ketogenic Soylent · 2013-09-27T09:18:37.953Z · LW · GW

Cool idea! Some suggestions:

Use ground sprouted flax seed powder instead to avoid phytate bodies potentially binding with the minerals.
I assume you're using flaxseed oil for omega-3 fatty acids? Use krill oil instead.

Cocoa has the same problem, and is hard to replace in terms of taste. Coconut, avocado, hemp (seeds or oil), acai berries, and nutritional yeast might work in some combination, but can all be prohibitively expensive depending on the intended application.

Adjusting the amount of cocoa should lower the amount of fat intake. For optimal retention of muscle mass, 30-35% of the daily caloric intake should come from protein. If you're worried about gluconeogenesis, I understand, and suggest scaling the ingredients such that you can increase the amount of protein once keto-adapted; hemp seeds have a nice 75-25% fat to protein ratio, and is a complete protein source.

Try stevia leaf powder instead of sucralose to avoid potential adverse effects long term. Maybe xylitol or erythritol if stevia is too expensive.

If you're essaying a final go at inducing ketosis, try doing intermittent fasting (IF) concurrently for increased probability of success. To save time, here's a rough sketch of what that would look like:

If the feeding period was from 12-20:00:

  • Day -1: Final day of eating solids.
  • Day 0: Transition day. Exercise as much as you can without dying or sacrificing form (whichever comes first), prioritising elevated heart rate over all else. If you're measuring, aim for heart rates above 70% of your maximum capacity for oxygen intake (VO2 max); this should be a good metric for how intense an anaerobic exercise was. High intensity interval training is ideal for this.
  • Day 1: Consume between 12:00 and 20:00.
  • Day 2: Consume between 12:00 and 20:00 - but wait! You ate from 16:00 to 22:00!
  • Day 3: Consume between 14:00 and 20:00.
  • Day 4: Consume between 12:00 and 20:00.
Comment by Zaine on Hoping to start a discussion about overcoming insecurity · 2013-09-24T02:02:21.706Z · LW · GW

Note that this period is extremely time sensitive, and, depending upon when changes occur, determines whether the strength of the connection will be increased or decreased. For anyone interested in a technical explanation of this theory of memory, vide - particularly the sky blue side bars on the left. Although not believed the whole territory, it, to about half of convention-going neuroscientists, comprises a large part of the current map.

Comment by Zaine on Hoping to start a discussion about overcoming insecurity · 2013-09-23T00:46:09.708Z · LW · GW

Perhaps I've misunderstood the post, but it seems like they are doing a variant of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy; id est, they are identifying problem thought areas and attempting to change them during activation.

Comment by Zaine on Help us name a short primer on AI risk! · 2013-09-20T00:00:13.274Z · LW · GW

Risks of Artificial Intelligence

Or, adding a wee bit a of flair:

Parricide: Risks of Artificial Intelligence

Conceding the point to Eliezer:

Parricide and the Quest for Machine Intelligence

Comment by Zaine on The Ultimate Newcomb's Problem · 2013-09-10T04:59:05.056Z · LW · GW

I don't think I understand the problem. While reading the Numerical Lottery (NL) paragraph, I decided choosing only box B was the obvious answer, which led me to think I've misunderstood something.

In box B is $1,000, a composite number. If I pick a composite number, the NL gifts me $2 million it-doesn't-really-matter-what-currency

Oh, I misread the problem. In box A is $1,000. Well, now I think I've understood the problem, and chosen the right answer for mistaken reasons.

If the NL pays "[me] $2 million if it has selected a composite number, and otherwise [...] $0,"* and the number it has selected goes in box B, then regardless of the number shown I can only profit from the NL by choosing box B. I'm guaranteed a profit by signalling to Omega that I will only choose box B.

Even in a scenario where box B contains the lesser amount, 'tis still the most rational choice, considering I can apparently play the game an infinite number of times - or at least three thousand and one times. Considering that I will always choose box B when reasoning from the provided information (unless I'm still not understanding something), by this point I have at least $3,001,000,000 dollars; if I ever choose otherwise, Omega will no longer have reason to predict I will only one-box, and I lose my guarantee. The word 'Ultimate' makes me think I'm drastically wrong.

* Emphasis added.

Comment by Zaine on Group Rationality Diary, September 1-15 · 2013-09-10T02:21:00.959Z · LW · GW

I'm working on rotating tasks to improved productivity. Downside: Most tasks require a muse; I only have two which don't. Solution: Add another task of the latter category. Writing it out makes things so clear; thank you for this Schelling point!

I've also started using a calendar.

Comment by Zaine on Eudaimonic Utilitarianism · 2013-09-05T00:27:36.679Z · LW · GW

If anything it is a strong imperative to gather as much information as possible (to get as close to perfect information as you can) before making decisions.

This is an imperative for any rational agent insofar as the situation warrants. To assist in this process, philosopher's develop decision theories. Decision theories are designed to assist an agent in processing information, and deciding a course of action, in furtherance of the agent's values; they do not assist in determining what is worth valuing. Theories of proper moral conduct fill this gap.

So EU would probably support Rational Agent A and Collective-B pooling their information and together gathering more information and trying to come to some consensus about alpha vs beta by trying to approximate perfect information and perfect rationality as closely as they can.

That does indeed seem like an intermediary course of action designed to further the values of both Collective-B and Agent A. This still feels unsatisfactory, but as I cannot reason why, I must conclude I have a true rejection somewhere I can't find at the moment. I was going to point out that the above scenario doesn't reflect human behaviour, but there's no need: it demonstrates the moral ideal to which we should strive.

Perhaps I object with the coining, as it seems a formalisation of what many do anyway, yet that's no reason to - Aha!

My true rejection lies in your theory's potential for being abused. Were one to claim they knew better than any other what would achieve others' Areté, they could justify behaviour that in fact infringes upon others' quest for Areté; they could falsely assume the role of Omega.

In the counter case of Preference Utilitarianism, one must account for the Preferences of others in their own utility calculation. Though it has the same pitfall, wherein one claims they know the 'true' preference of others' differs from their 'manifest' preference.

The difference lies in each theory's foundations. Preference utilitarianism is founded upon the empathic understanding that others pursuing their value function makes them, and thus those around them, more fulfilled. In your theory, one can always claim, "If you were only more rational, you would see I am in the right on this. Trust me."

One becoming an evil overlord would also constitute a moral good in your theory, if their net capacity for achievement supersedes that of those whom they prey upon. I make no judgement on this.

Honestly though, I'm nitpicking by this point. Quite clearly written (setting aside the Adultery calculation), this, and good on you essaying to incorporate eudaimonia into a coherent moral theory.

Comment by Zaine on Eudaimonic Utilitarianism · 2013-09-04T21:27:08.756Z · LW · GW

Moral theories of this sort need an all-knowing source of perfect judgement, else it can't resolve the following case:

Rational Agent A, surrounded by rational Collective-B, knows to the best of their ability that they can achieve Areté through life course alpha. Collective-B disagrees, knowing Agent A can only achieve Areté through life course beta.

Assuming each party reasons from an equivalent depth of information, Eudaimonic Utilitarianism cannot resolve the conflict without an Omega's help.

Areté itself is a subjective indicator without an Omega, though I admit seems a nice metric 'twere an Omega present. On second thought, even with an Omega, any incongruence between the agent and Omega's value function leads not to eudaimonic fulfilment of the agent, as Omega, under your proposed theory, needs not account for the agent's preferences lest unfulfilled preferences preclude achieving Areté.

Whatever the value function of a moral theory requisite an Omega, I see not how any agent with less knowledge and reasoning power than Omega could reconcile their theory with the territory. Hence CEV's presumed super-AGI.

Comment by Zaine on Open thread, August 5-11, 2013 · 2013-08-06T08:51:24.250Z · LW · GW

Uncaring AI? The correlate could stay 'Friendly AI', as I presume to assume acting in a friendly fashion is easier to identify than capability for emotions/values and emotion/value motivated action.

Comment by Zaine on August 2013 Media Thread · 2013-08-04T12:33:58.130Z · LW · GW

How would you rate the quality of these as compared to published fiction? I mean to ask how you'd compare time spent on the above with, say, some of the recommendations in the fiction section.

Comment by Zaine on Open thread, July 29-August 4, 2013 · 2013-08-04T02:31:02.793Z · LW · GW

I gather Australia's medical system is just as notoriously bad as America's (as per Yvain's excoriations)?

Finland's Healthcare system and to a lesser extent the NHS seem to mostly have proper incentives in place, as uncured folk means less capacity to treat oneself. Surely medical care the world over isn't guided by perverse incentives? That is more a question than an assertion.

Comment by Zaine on August 2013 Media Thread · 2013-08-03T03:15:02.897Z · LW · GW


Comment by Zaine on Open thread, July 29-August 4, 2013 · 2013-08-01T02:04:28.883Z · LW · GW

Being 'part of a community' and having a term that defines one's identity are two different conditions. In the former, one's participation in a community is merely another aspect to one's personality or character, which can be all-expansive.

In the latter, one is tied to others who share the identifier. Even if 'rationalist' just means one who subscribes to the importance of instrumental and epistemic rationality in daily life, accepting and embracing that or any identifier can have negatives. The former condition, representing a choice rather than a fact of identity, is absent those negatives while retaining the positive aspects of communal connection.

Exempli gratia:
One is trying to appeal to some high status figure. This high-status figure encounters a 'rationalist', and perceives them as low-status. If One has identified themselves as also being a rationalist, then the high-status person's perception of the 'rationalist' may taint their perception of One.
If One has instead identified themselves as being part of a certain community, to which this 'rationalist' may also claim affiliation, One can claim that while they find the community worthwhile for many pursuits, not all who flock to the community are representative of its worth.

If someone thinks this a losing strategy, please speak up, as it's generally applicable. Notable exceptions to its applicability include claiming oneself as identifiable by their association with a friend group or extended family, as in, "I am James Potter, Marauder," rather than, "I am James Potter, member of the Marauders"; and, "I am a Potter," rather than the simple, "My name is James Potter."

Comment by Zaine on More "Stupid" Questions · 2013-08-01T01:37:48.094Z · LW · GW


Comment by Zaine on More "Stupid" Questions · 2013-08-01T01:24:30.964Z · LW · GW

Now that I think on it, maybe it is for some people. If you consider the lyric "lose yourself to the music, the moment..." the instruction to 'lose oneself' implies the experience must be voluntary; much like hypnosis, if you don't wish to succumb to the hypnotic flow of the hypnotist's drone, you won't.

Then again, music also passively affects brain waves. I can't find a review article after searching for five minutes. The neuronal firing patterns - the frequency of firing, or brain waves - induced by heavy metal differ from jazz, which yet differs from classical, which further depends upon the composer and the piece.

Compare: this solo to this solo, and thesepieceshere

Comment by Zaine on More "Stupid" Questions · 2013-07-31T21:57:10.687Z · LW · GW

I've thought about this before. Here's my go:

In regards to sound: If you take a tuning fork and smack it, it will vibrate. Vibration can be pleasurable. If the tuning fork is a brain, and the smack is music, then the result is a contented or slightly altered-from-the-norm feeling, that might be akin to the vibration of a tuning fork if tuning forks like vibrating.

In regards to lyrics: Singing along to things or singing by oneself can bring joy to one. This could have to do with the feeling of one's voice reverberating through their body, psychological factors I won't pretend to know, a combination of factors, or of course something I haven't considered.

Let me know if that helps, doesn't help, or causes confusion.

Comment by Zaine on Open thread, July 23-29, 2013 · 2013-07-26T00:02:52.241Z · LW · GW

Oh, I completely forgot inner windows exist! Sorry about that.

Comment by Zaine on Open thread, July 23-29, 2013 · 2013-07-25T22:21:08.110Z · LW · GW

For 6: if sunlight positively affects workplace productivity, drop down white backgrounds on windows would have adverse consequences.

Balancing suggestion: install a window on a wall.

Comment by Zaine on Why Eat Less Meat? · 2013-07-25T21:44:48.759Z · LW · GW

Naturally; we're working from the same fabric.

Comment by Zaine on Why Eat Less Meat? · 2013-07-24T21:30:42.368Z · LW · GW

1) The question is whether they can experience the subjective realisation of, "Because of this situation, I am experiencing negative emotions. I dislike this situation, but there is no escape," and thus increase their suffering by adding negative internal stimuli - appreciation and awareness of their existence - to already existing negative external stimuli. This is a stricter condition some may have for caring about other creatures to an inconvenient degree. For a fictional example, Methods!Harry refused to eat anything when he considered the possibility that all other life is sentient. To be charitable, assume he is aware that pinching a rabbit's leg will trigger afferent nociceptive (pain) neurons, which will carry a signal to the brain, leading to the experience of pain. Your cited research demonstrates this. It does not demonstrate, however, whether the subject has the awareness to reflect upon the factors that contribute to their suffering, such that their reflection can contribute it by further adding negative stimuli, negative stimuli that is generated only by that organism's selfsame reflection. Causing misery to a probably non-sentient creature did not give Methods!Harry hesitation, but causing misery to a probably sentient creature did; hopefully this helps elucidate the mindset of one ascribing to this stricter condition of care.

2) If a human considers that they themselves satisfy the above condition, then they will be more inclined to attribute more worth to fellow humans than other creatures of a dubious status. That said, they will still realise that misery is not a pleasant experience regardless of one's capacity for self-reflection, and should be prevented and stopped if possible. One must thus argue to this person that it should behove their moral selves to exert effort towards mitigating or decreasing that misery, and that the exertion will not detriment this person's endeavours to reduce the misery of humans.

This person cares more about optimising the good they can achieve while living, which leads them to take pains to live longer; the longer they live, the more good they can achieve. One must convince this person that either non-human animals have the capacity for self-reflection to the degree specified above, or that caring about the misery of non-human animals and acting upon that care does not adversely affect their net ability to introduce good to the world; id est, in the latter condition, acting upon that care must not adversely affect this person's lifespan, quality of life, capacity to help humans, or must only do so by small enough margin to justify the sacrifice.

These are things I think a rational agent making a comfortable salary should think about, assuming they desire to optimise the quantity of good they effect in the world. To someone whose objective is convincing the masses to do the most good they possibly can, this doesn't matter, as arguing for both vegetarianism and giving substantial sums to the AMF only have a potential conflict of interest to the party seeking optimal quality of life and greatest possible life-span.

Comment by Zaine on Rationality Quotes July 2013 · 2013-07-24T10:10:35.755Z · LW · GW

It's a quote against which one can test their rationality, maybe?

  • When someone died or when it was made has no relevance; only its merit in guiding a government is relevant.
  • Their moral and political views don't matter either, unless contained in the present US Constitution; this seems like argumentum ad hominem at first glance, but one needs to check the claim before evaluating its persuasiveness.
  • One must argue that knowledge of modern America confers enough of a benefit to forming a working governmental body that scrapping and rewriting the entire U.S. Constitution is preferable to the amendment process.

In an effort to steelman: perhaps the Professor meant to indicate that with the advent of the internet, a representative democracy is no longer the most effective means of running a government by the people, for the people, and of the people. If he was feeling radical, he may have been hinting at how political science has developed as a discipline since the Enlightenment era when the principles founding the U.S. government were theorised; perhaps the best solution is a flexible one, able to adapt to the political system most effective at running an efficient government while still remaining resistant to tyranny. Exempli gratia a futarchy for four years, some form of crypto-direct democracy for eight years, a modified version of Finland's government for ten years, etcetera.

Comment by Zaine on Why Eat Less Meat? · 2013-07-24T09:41:08.668Z · LW · GW

For item 1, that's fine.

I'm only presenting an argument from the perspective of one who wants to live well and longer, but also wishes to leave a positive impact upon the world; my goal was to raise concerns someone from this mindset would like to see addressed, but ended up arguing (perhaps repugnantly) in favour of the mindset instead.
Let me know if that doesn't help clear confusion.

Probably non-sentient lives are not limited to non-human animals, but marine and plant life, as well as human animals in extreme interpretations.

For item 2, sentience means self-awareness, and refers to the distinction between, for example, depression caused by mere neuro-adaptation of neurotransmitter signalling to external stimuli, and a depressive state furthered by the ability to reflect upon one's depressive situation - internal stimuli.

You might have a typo in the latter-most statement.

Comment by Zaine on Why Eat Less Meat? · 2013-07-24T08:19:05.972Z · LW · GW

If optimal health requires strict consumption of only sea-vegetables and coconut oil, one must offset the resources required their sustainable, scalable harvesting. If optimal health requires eating meat procured from animals eating only their native food sources in their native habitat, killed while their hunter whispers sweet nothings and severs their vertebrae at the nape with a swift, sure, and gentle strike, one must offset the costs required making the operation sustainable, scalable, and global warming-friendly - perhaps by inventing meat-vats, solving global warming, or discovering a means of feasible space colonisation.

Comment by Zaine on Why Eat Less Meat? · 2013-07-24T08:14:37.497Z · LW · GW

Obtaining optimal health is an unsolved problem. With optimal health, a human will live longer. This human weights probably sentient life as worth more than probably non-sentient life. According to this human's values, the amount of probably non-sentient life this human must consume in order to obtain optimal health does not justify consumption in and of itself. As a human will live longer with optimal health, this human also has more time they can devote to offsetting their consumption, in the end making their human life worth more in net than the cumulative probably non-sentient lives consumed in sustaining optimal health.

The more resources required optimal health, the greater the burden on the human to offset the negative externalities produced utilising those resources.