Covid-19: My Current Model 2020-05-31T17:40:00.945Z · score: 77 (22 votes)
Covid-19 5/29: Dumb Reopening 2020-05-29T21:00:01.069Z · score: 18 (7 votes)
Spoiler-Free Review: Assassin’s Creed Odyssey 2020-05-26T14:10:01.401Z · score: 8 (2 votes)
Plague in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey 2020-05-24T12:00:00.904Z · score: 30 (12 votes)
Mazes Sequence Summary 2020-05-23T16:40:01.401Z · score: 59 (17 votes)
Get It Done Now 2020-05-22T12:20:00.566Z · score: 42 (23 votes)
Covid 5/21: Limbo Under 2020-05-14T22:30:01.183Z · score: 16 (5 votes)
Legends of Runeterra: Early Review 2020-05-13T10:50:00.696Z · score: 14 (6 votes)
Covid-19: Comorbidity 2020-05-10T21:30:01.304Z · score: 44 (14 votes)
Covid-19 5/7: Fighting Limbo 2020-05-07T19:00:01.414Z · score: 28 (9 votes)
Covid-19: New York’s Antibody Tests 2 2020-05-06T17:40:01.215Z · score: 17 (7 votes)
On Negative Feedback and Simulacra 2020-05-03T17:00:00.558Z · score: 47 (15 votes)
SlateStarCodex 2020 Predictions: Buy, Sell, Hold 2020-05-01T14:30:00.934Z · score: 56 (21 votes)
Covid-19 4/30: Stuck in Limbo 2020-04-30T20:40:00.619Z · score: 30 (11 votes)
On “COVID-19 Superspreader Events in 28 Countries: Critical Patterns and Lessons” 2020-04-29T19:40:01.006Z · score: 60 (24 votes)
On New York’s Antibody Tests 2020-04-25T15:20:01.173Z · score: 32 (16 votes)
My Covid-19 Thinking: 4/23 pre-Cuomo Data 2020-04-23T21:40:00.891Z · score: 25 (11 votes)
My Covid-19 Thinking: 4/17 2020-04-17T19:50:01.710Z · score: 66 (21 votes)
Evaluating Predictions in Hindsight 2020-04-16T17:20:01.054Z · score: 58 (22 votes)
Linkpost: A Comprehensive Review of Ikoria, Lair of Behemoths 2020-04-15T15:10:00.821Z · score: 13 (3 votes)
Seemingly Popular Covid-19 Model is Obvious Nonsense 2020-04-11T23:10:00.594Z · score: 136 (54 votes)
The One Mistake Rule 2020-04-10T14:50:00.413Z · score: 45 (16 votes)
On R0 2020-04-07T23:20:01.205Z · score: 66 (13 votes)
Taking Initial Viral Load Seriously 2020-04-01T10:50:00.542Z · score: 97 (37 votes)
Let My People Stay Home 2020-03-17T12:10:00.594Z · score: 47 (23 votes)
What is a School? 2020-03-13T22:00:00.732Z · score: 48 (19 votes)
An Open Letter To The Congregation Regarding The Upcoming Holiday 2020-03-06T15:40:00.900Z · score: 26 (11 votes)
Coronavirus is Here 2020-03-02T14:10:00.443Z · score: 67 (35 votes)
Mazes Sequence Roundup: Final Thoughts and Paths Forward 2020-02-06T16:10:00.405Z · score: 66 (15 votes)
Protecting Large Projects Against Mazedom 2020-02-03T17:10:00.520Z · score: 52 (12 votes)
Create a Full Alternative Stack 2020-01-31T17:10:00.543Z · score: 58 (14 votes)
Potential Ways to Fight Mazes 2020-01-28T22:50:00.352Z · score: 49 (11 votes)
Ten Causes of Mazedom 2020-01-25T13:40:00.434Z · score: 57 (16 votes)
How Doomed are Large Organizations? 2020-01-21T12:20:00.524Z · score: 71 (20 votes)
The Road to Mazedom 2020-01-18T14:10:00.846Z · score: 71 (16 votes)
How to Escape From Immoral Mazes 2020-01-16T13:10:00.787Z · score: 58 (16 votes)
How to Identify an Immoral Maze 2020-01-12T12:10:00.766Z · score: 64 (19 votes)
What is Success in an Immoral Maze? 2020-01-10T13:20:01.090Z · score: 38 (13 votes)
Stripping Away the Protections 2020-01-08T13:10:00.912Z · score: 43 (14 votes)
What is Life in an Immoral Maze? 2020-01-05T13:40:00.589Z · score: 63 (23 votes)
Does Big Business Hate Your Family? 2019-12-31T12:50:00.827Z · score: 49 (15 votes)
Imperfect Competition 2019-12-30T12:20:00.375Z · score: 53 (17 votes)
Perfect Competition 2019-12-29T13:30:00.395Z · score: 42 (17 votes)
Moloch Hasn’t Won 2019-12-28T16:30:00.947Z · score: 121 (44 votes)
Meditation Retreat: Immoral Mazes Sequence Introduction 2019-12-28T00:50:01.078Z · score: 64 (21 votes)
Vantress Gargoyle Dimir 2019-12-13T12:50:00.630Z · score: 1 (6 votes)
Linkpost: Searching Along the Trail of Crumbs 2019-12-05T14:20:00.448Z · score: 8 (3 votes)
Searching Along the Trail of Crumbs 2019-12-03T13:10:00.419Z · score: 10 (4 votes)
Linkpost: My Fires Part 8 (Deck Guide to Jeskai Cavaliers) posted at 2019-11-25T16:10:00.513Z · score: 6 (2 votes)
Three on Two: Temur Walkers, Elk Blade, Goblin Blade and Dino Blade 2019-11-14T16:20:00.523Z · score: 10 (2 votes)


Comment by zvi on Legends of Runeterra: Early Review · 2020-05-15T11:56:08.490Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Also worth noting that my gaming posts are only here because LW auto-imports all blog posts from Don't Worry About The Vase ( For such matters, doing the discussions there is encouraged.

Comment by zvi on Legends of Runeterra: Early Review · 2020-05-14T11:59:02.698Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Very briefly. I played a few games. At lower levels, game seems very close to "higher point total on your cards wins," good cards crushed bad cards, and I didn't get engaged. What am I missing? Do you just need to stick with it until the cards power up?

Comment by zvi on Legends of Runeterra: Early Review · 2020-05-14T11:58:17.670Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Emergents will be on Mobile (iPhone + Android) and PC to start. We'll add others later if there is demand.

You get into the beta by joining the queue here: . First wave is already mostly picked, but shouldn't take too long to get in once things get rolling.

Comment by zvi on Legends of Runeterra: Early Review · 2020-05-14T11:56:09.013Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Good feedback and information. Thanks!

I can definitely see the case that one can do 'whatever one wants relatively quickly' - once. As in, I can make *one* of those decks, but not all of them, so I need to choose wisely, cause it'll be a while before I can do the second one, etc.

What's your pick for the most interesting strategy that's at least tier-2-ish?

Comment by zvi on Legends of Runeterra: Early Review · 2020-05-14T11:54:13.678Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, if you're not making *any* decisions that's definitely on you. If you think you're not making that many interesting ones, that's largely on the game, and you're right.

I definitely see the case that 'strategy' involves knowing the common deck builds and playing around/against their exact cards. Don't think the game justifies that level of cognitive load for me.

Comment by zvi on Really Fresh Baking · 2020-05-10T19:26:31.518Z · score: 7 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I heartily endorse this service or product.

Been meaning to write a version of this for a while, but more detailed.

Comment by zvi on The Mind: Board Game Review · 2020-05-10T11:38:52.263Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · LW · GW

How is "starting to play a card" not obviously cheating the "no communication" rule? And how would a third player "help out" two players who are unsure without doing any communication?

In general this feels like a timing calibration game when played correctly - since technically any other form of communication is banned, and then it reduces to something not interesting. I presume the lesson is that players find the type/level of communication that makes the game interesting and use that?

Comment by zvi on On Negative Feedback and Simulacra · 2020-05-04T13:29:22.062Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

It's weird.

My model says that being naive is in *some* ways a defense but not others. A level 3+ action has (at least) two components. It has the information it reveals directly "I didn't like your food." It also has the motivation behind the action "I am deciding to tell you I didn't like your food."

There is a difference between (A) "I am deciding to go out of my way to tell you X", (B) "I value doing Y more than I value not telling you X", (C) "There was no way to avoid telling you X, so X" and (D) "I am naive and not aware that you will figure out or assume X from my actions." And what matters for the reaction is which one it *looks* like you're doing, to the other person.

So if GF thinks this is (D), she will still be mad that he insulted her cooking, but not mad that he intentionally insulted her cooking, which is worse - (A) is worse/a-bigger-deal than (B) is worse than (C or D).

I don't think this is guess culture / ask culture, although I see how one would get that idea. Certainly they relate to insults differently, but in this case I think it works for either. You can definitely insult someone inside ask culture by asking, if asking reveals information - to not have this be true, asks would have to have the weird Bayesian immunity I talk about in the post, and they just don't. Asks have a qualified "I'm not insulting you by claiming you couldn't figure out what I wanted" immunity, but they don't have an immunity on the "I want what I'm asking for" front.

Comment by zvi on On Negative Feedback and Simulacra · 2020-05-04T13:19:18.927Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Sharable link to Google doc version where edits can be suggested:

Agreed that things could be more explicit in a lot of places. Part of the issue is that simulacrum levels are not the only thing going on and aren't always a good descriptor.

Comment by zvi on Covid-19 4/30: Stuck in Limbo · 2020-05-01T15:54:24.780Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

comments here or at my blog ( are the public way to do it, or private message here, or Twitter as @TheZvi. At some point we'd switch to email if things were going well.

Comment by zvi on Covid-19 4/30: Stuck in Limbo · 2020-05-01T15:52:48.436Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

True but I do think the quoted statement still holds?

Comment by zvi on Evaluating Predictions in Hindsight · 2020-04-18T11:55:58.885Z · score: 17 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Good responses. I do think a lot of the value is the back-and-forth, and seeing which logic holds up and which doesn't. Bunch of things to talk about.

First, the discussion of models vs. instincts. I agree that one should sometimes make predictions without an explicit model. I'm not sure whether one can be said to ever not have an implicit model and still be doing the scribe things instead of the actor thing - my modal thinks that when someone like me makes a prediction on instinct there's an implicit (unconscious) model somewhere, even if it's bad and would be modified heavily or rejected outright on reflection by system 2.

I do think 'internal consistency at a given time' is a valid check on instinctive predictions, perhaps even the best go-to. It's a way to turn instincts into a rough model slash check to see if your instincts make any sense slash find out what your instincts actually are. It also checks for a bunch of bias issues (e.g. the feminist bank teller thing often becomes obvious even if it was subtle).

Agree that it's good to predict more in fields without markets rather than with markets. One could explicitly not look at markets until predictions are made; I definitely did that often. It is helpful.

I think the "right" versus "intelligently-made but wrong" thing is at least important semantics. In our society, telling someone they were "wrong" versus "right" is a big deal. At least most people will get wrong impressions of what's going on if you say that Scott Adams saying (as he explicitly did) 98% Trump in May 2016 "was right" as a baseline. And that happens! They think that should be considered good predicting, because you were super confident and it happened. Or that scene in Zero Dark Thirty, where the woman says "100%" that Osama is where she thinks she is, because that's how you sound confident in a meeting. If you correct solve the question "what is the probability of X given everything we know now?" and say 75% and then X doesn't happen, but 75% was the best guess you could have made at the time, I think saying you are "wrong" is both incorrect and going to do net harm. It's not enough to rely on someone's long term score, because most people don't get one, and it would get ignored most of the time even if they did have one.

Biden markets were indeed dumb early on if your report is right, and I missed that boat because I wasn't thinking about it - I only got into the PredictIt game this time around when Yang got up into the 8% range and there was actual free money. I don't think it was inevitable he would run but you definitely made an amazing trade. 70% to run plus dominating the pools does not equal 15%! Especially given that when the 70% event occurred, his value more than doubled.

That's another good metric for evaluating trades/prediction that I forgot to include more explicitly. Look at the new market prices slash probability estimates after an event, and see what that implies about the old prediction. In this case, clearly it says that 15% was stupidly low. I like to think I too would have done that trade if I'd thought about it at the time, maybe even sold other candidates to get more of it, and looked at the general election prices. In hindsight it's clear 20% is still way too low, but a much smaller mistake and certainly more understandable.

I agree that removing hindsight can be tough. I do think that it is now clear that e.g. Trump not getting nominated would have been extraordinarily hard to have happen without a health issue, but did we have enough information for that? I think we mostly did? But I can't be sure I'm playing fair here, either.

The 50% approval thing I do think we had unusually uneventful times until Covid-19. Covid-19 put Trump at 48.5% and let's face it, he had to try really hard to not break 50%, but he did manage it. Wasn't easy, team effort.

May it seemed to me (at the time) like would keep going until failure but would quit on actual failure, but again hindsight is always a concern.

Also points to, might be good in general to write down basic reasoning when making predictions, to help prevent hindsight bias. And also if you get the right answer for the wrong reasons, in important senses, you can still mark yourself wrong in ways that let one improve.

Comment by zvi on Evaluating Predictions in Hindsight · 2020-04-17T13:46:08.818Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Yep, that's a typo, I'll fix in original.

Comment by zvi on On R0 · 2020-04-10T12:56:08.036Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

While I definitely agree that stoic choices are perfectly fine in a pinch, and definitely have a large reserve of bars on hand, I have always been on the other side of this debate. I think that delicious food is one of the great joys of life, and that being a stoic who treats food as primarily a source of calories is rather tragic. The one thing I'm sad about right now about having moved to Warwick is the resulting decline in ingredient quality/availability for cooking.

Comment by zvi on Atari early · 2020-04-02T16:32:01.637Z · score: 10 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I believe that the poker bots met the mark for two player games and that Omaha/7-Stud are both not much of an issue and wouldn't actually be required in any way, but actually winning the WSOP requires mostly winning at 9-10 person tables. I do realize that there are claims they've been able to handle that, but doing it in person is... trickier. Probably need another level of improvement before they have a reasonable shot at winning.

(Note that WSOP is a good structure but even so is still pretty random, so e.g. I would win it some % of the time if I entered, whereas if I played the type of match they used to test the poker bots, my chances would be about epsilon.)

Comment by zvi on Hanson vs Mowshowitz LiveStream Debate: "Should we expose the youth to coronavirus?" (Mar 29th) · 2020-03-31T19:40:48.920Z · score: 13 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I think there are plausible scenarios where we reach, likely not full herd immunity of 'everyone can stop washing hands now, we're fine' but certainly levels that substantially impact R0 and can combine with 'ordinary-life-compatible' levels of avoidance (e.g. hand washing and face not touching, mask wearing, increased working from home and delivery, sports without crowds, less air travel, etc) to combine for effective herd immunity. The hope is that it will also include test+trace and thus be well below what it would take otherwise. I believe super spreaders are a big part of the correct model, and that we're probably already at 1%+ infection rates for the USA and 10%+ (likely 20%+) for NYC, and that the first 20% infected is going to knock infection rates down 50%+ due to selection effects (which won't be enough on its own in NYC or other big cities, but is a huge boost even there).

Usual warnings that I know nothing, but that's my best guess.

Robin I think puts substantial probability that we end up 50%+ infected. I have less, but still substantial. I do think it's a scenario worth having a mitigation plan for.

Comment by zvi on Credibility of the CDC on SARS-CoV-2 · 2020-03-08T14:20:09.143Z · score: 34 (12 votes) · LW · GW

If and to the degree and in the circumstances and ways that the CDC is trustworthy, I desire to believe that the CDC is trustworthy.

If and to the degree and in the circumstances and ways that the CDC is untrustworthy, I desire to believe that the CDC is untrustworthy.

Let me not become attached to beliefs I may not want.

If you tell me that my statement that someone else is lying to us about important factual information that we need to get right in order to keep us and our friends and loved ones safe is true but harmful, and I need to delete my statement, because it is important that people believe the lying liars who are lying for our own good, and I should exercise prior restraint before I point out such things?

I too am surprised by this objection coming from David. But I also want to point out that it seems like it is mostly David's objection, and the vast majority here are supportive of the post.

It also seems like David thinks the post contains errors, and he says he would not have been anything like this vocal otherwise. Obviously we should work out quickly whether or not the post does contain errors, and correct any we find.

Comment by zvi on Mazes Sequence Roundup: Final Thoughts and Paths Forward · 2020-02-11T12:31:59.104Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, I believe that is mostly right. I would like to get better gears on this, though.

Comment by zvi on Mazes Sequence Roundup: Final Thoughts and Paths Forward · 2020-02-11T12:29:34.271Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Trust and loyalty seem to me to clearly be virtues if placed wisely and in moderation. Like all virtues, you go too far and bad things happen. Industrial scaling gives you new ways to backfire, but there's certainly very non-industrial ways to go way overboard on either or both. Cults can be very small.

Comment by zvi on Mazes Sequence Roundup: Final Thoughts and Paths Forward · 2020-02-11T12:25:50.968Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

The plan would be to do a close listen to determine which songs are most important; ideally one would listen to the full albums (Pieces of You, Spirit, This Way, 0304 and Goodbye Alice in Wonderland, in that order), and in general I've updated more and more towards 'respect the artist once you like multiple songs of theirs, and listen to full albums in order' but that's a lot of music.

I think this is the minimum story of the journey I want to talk about.

Who Will Save Your Soul?

Pieces of You

Little Sister

I'm Sensitive

What's Simple is True

Down So Long

Innocence Maintained

Life Uncommon

Jesus Loves You

Serve the Ego

This Way

Love Me, Just Leave Me Alone


Sweet Temptation

Yes U Can

Goodbye Alice in Wonderland

Words Get in the Way

Stephenville, TX

Comment by zvi on Mazes Sequence Roundup: Final Thoughts and Paths Forward · 2020-02-07T01:41:03.790Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Agree that would be cool if it was good enough that it got used. Unknown how good it would have to be before it would get used.

Comment by zvi on Mazes Sequence Roundup: Final Thoughts and Paths Forward · 2020-02-07T01:40:16.331Z · score: 17 (7 votes) · LW · GW

It was never my intent to say that the solution to mazes is less competition between corporations or between organizations. If you look at the solutions that were proposed, none of them were about decreasing competition.

The idea I was going for in terms of mazes, as I tried to explain here (it is entirely possible I botched this explanation on top of the initial confusion), was that super-perfect competition between people to get ahead within an organization (or larger system that likewise has not enough slots for too many people) is the problem here.

I also maintain, as a distinct claim, that if we were to see true perfect or super-perfect competition in the overall world, that would have some very bad effects, and that the reason we don't see this is because perfect competition is a really weird set of assumptions that are not that close to applying in those situations, and I do think exploring these things more is interesting in its own right but isn't what I'm trying to centrally do. Related to that I would argue that no, sufficiently competitive markets don't do the thing you think they do, they do something else that can in some ways and situations be wonderful or even optimal, but that depends on what you care about and a lot of detail, and you can also get a big disaster.

Barring a massive edit or additional post creation I don't know how to do better than that in terms of responding.

Comment by zvi on Create a Full Alternative Stack · 2020-02-01T19:43:38.112Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I was in no way trying to disguise that the problem of people faking alignment with the stack in order to extract resources is the biggest problem with the project, if someone were to actually try to implement it. If I get feedback that this wasn't clear enough I will edit to make it more clear. And certainly one does not simply throw money at the problem.

So that far, fair enough.

However, this also incorporates a number of assumptions, and a general view of how things function, that I do not share.

First, the idea that alignment is a singular problem, or that it either does or does not have a solution. That seems very wrong to me. Alignment has varying known solutions depending on the situation and which prices you are wiling to pay and how much you care, and varies based on what alignment you are trying to verify. You can also attempt structure the deal such that people that are non-aligned (e.g. with the maze nature, or even not very into being opposed to it) do not want what you are offering.

I don't think there are cheap solutions. And yes, eventually you will fail and have to start over, but I do think this is tractable for long enough to make a big difference.

Second, the idea that if there was a solution then it would be implemented because it outcompetes others just doesn't match my model on multiple levels. I don't think it would be worth paying the kind of prices the stack would be willing to pay, in order to align a generic corporation. It's not even clear that this level of anti-maze would be an advantage in that spot, given the general reaction to such a thing on many levels and the need for deep interaction with mazes. And it's often the case that there are big wins, and people just don't know about them, or they know about them but for some reason don't take them. I've stopped finding such things weird.

You can also do it backwards-only if you're too scared of this - award it to people who you already are confident in now, and don't extend it later to avoid corruption. It would be a good start on many goals.

In any case, yes, I have thought a lot about the practical problems, most of which such people already face much worse in other forms, and have many many thoughts about them, and the problem is hard. But not 'give up this doesn't actually help' kinds of hard.

Not going to go deeper than that here. If I decide to expand on the problem I'll do it with more posts (which are not currently planned).

Comment by zvi on Create a Full Alternative Stack · 2020-02-01T18:27:23.546Z · score: 14 (6 votes) · LW · GW

The point is to compromise one's interactions with society in the sense that you want to change what they are. But in this frame, the idea is that your interactions were previously being compromised by the worry that some day you may need to extract money from society / mazes, and this seeks to prevent that.

Consider the Thiel fellowship. Yes, it helps people get their start, but their orders are to go out into the world and start a normal business and raise money the normal way. It's better than letting those people go to college, so yay fellowship, but it's totally not this thing. It was a way to let kids who knew that college was a trap skip college. Or at least, that's my understanding.

Thiel literally proposed funding me in the full stack way at a meeting - not personally for life, but for a proposed company, which was going to be biotech-related so it was much closer to normal procedure. He got the logic. But when he came back to his social situation he couldn't follow through. Biotech has to work this way for companies because of hold-up problems and dependencies, you agree on the later rounds in advance with criteria for unlocking them. It's not the full full stack, but it's the core idea that you need to be secure from concerns that would bury the real operation if you had to worry about them.

Creating a new entire community in a new location makes perfect sense, and is one good way to consider implementation.

Comment by zvi on Have epistemic conditions always been this bad? · 2020-01-30T20:49:58.104Z · score: 9 (4 votes) · LW · GW
Dr Schrecker tells us that as a professional historian she "feels comfortable" with the evidence that it is true.

I love this line. It could not have come more straight out of Moral Mazes.

Comment by zvi on Potential Ways to Fight Mazes · 2020-01-29T21:07:03.871Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

You are not wrong. Fixed in original. Mods please reimport.

Comment by zvi on 2018 Review: Voting Results! · 2020-01-24T14:47:28.674Z · score: 5 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Easy to make it possible with explicit quadratic voting but not interpret people who use non-quadratic voting to cast only 1-3 votes in this way.

Comment by zvi on How Doomed are Large Organizations? · 2020-01-22T21:28:03.406Z · score: 16 (8 votes) · LW · GW

1. I don't know enough details about China to offer a complete answer. I could speculate that China's government is relatively new, and has reinvented itself more recently than that in dramatic ways. Also that it is still taking part in catch-up growth, which looks more dramatic than it is and also causes direct disruptions of existing systems as things power up, which should help with all this. Also, that link (directly at least) seems to be mostly saying China is accomplishing things rather than the Chinese Government, a key distinction. China tore down the things stifling growth (e.g. the whole being Communist thing) to a large extent and the maze-style things that will next get in the way likely have not finished coming in to replace them.

There's also the possibility that China's growth is masking growing problems - if your maze level is ruining things at 2%/year (made up number) but you are growing at 8% a year otherwise, you still grow at 6%, or something.

Another "nice" thing for China is that the Chinese Communist Party seems to be maintaining power by providing real physical life improvements, naked-eye-visible rising living standards and economic growth. If that stopped, they would (or so a model I have low confidence in says) lose the Mandate of Heaven and be in a lot of trouble, potentially collapsing. As opposed to trying to win elections, that provides a strong incentive to care about the physical end-level results, especially if party officials at the top are going to be around for a long time and want to keep power. Could be lessons there of course.

I also have a very poor handle on what's actually happening in China and how they are really doing. I've heard that there's a ton of waste and lots and lots of regional debt serving as a time bomb. I've also seen claims they're kicking ass. Hard to know and I don't claim to know.

2. I do not think "social justice activism" is that large a share of corporate politics, especially in competitions between managers, it's more that there is a ton more SJ activity than anti-SJ activity and we notice such activity a lot more. Or to put it another way, woke ads and campaigns far exceed anti-SJ ads and campaigns but are still newsworthy, and if SJ activism were really that big a deal, they wouldn't be. That is entirely compatible with SJ-signaling becoming part of the winning-coalition-signaling set in some major corporations. The biggest difference is that it might extend down to the object-level workers and attack them, whereas most other such things get shrugged off, and again that it gets noticed a lot. As to why SJ over non-SJ, it seems SJ side is much better at applying leverage and helping move product, and is generally winning the mindshare fights especially in places like tech, so it gets the nod.

That much seems safe enough to say, but I don't want to press my luck by continuing to talk about such matters on the internet...

Comment by zvi on How Doomed are Large Organizations? · 2020-01-22T21:11:03.962Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I think an example was WeWork, and Adam Newman was attempting to also pressure others to do so.

Comment by zvi on How Doomed are Large Organizations? · 2020-01-22T00:06:53.863Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Strongly agree. Tried to write one a while ago. It did not go well, hope to try again later.

Comment by zvi on Reality-Revealing and Reality-Masking Puzzles · 2020-01-21T12:22:00.457Z · score: 16 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Encouragement to write the top level post, with offer of at least some help although presumably people who are there in Berkeley to see it would be more helpful in many ways. This matches my model of what is happening.

Comment by zvi on How to Escape From Immoral Mazes · 2020-01-20T15:32:21.800Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

In both cases, I think 'start one's own business' should be at the top of the list. This can be a start-up designed to make a lot of money - and that's by far the highest EV play if you can take a real shot and afford to fail. But it does not need to be something so risky. If you have a trade where you can open a store, or put yourself and perhaps a small number of others out for hire, or even become a consultant of some kind, consider doing one of those before anything else.

Doctor -> private practice. Lawyer -> small law firm as possible. Programmer -> own projects, short term gigs, employee number 1.

Similarly, the easiest way to avoid a large business is to work for a small business. Especially good is of course to be employee #1 and get equity, but even employee #5 with nominal equity upside is pretty good.

I'd also encourage people not to think in terms of fixed career paths, but rather in terms of developing skills, doing real things, seeing what opportunities present themselves, etc. But my situation was always very unique, and I took paths most people can't, so I don't claim to be any kind of expert in all this. This comment is likely quick / half baked.

Comment by zvi on The Road to Mazedom · 2020-01-20T15:25:05.314Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I debated which of those two to use here. Will consider switching.

Comment by zvi on The Road to Mazedom · 2020-01-19T22:11:38.761Z · score: 10 (2 votes) · LW · GW

On editing note, I think that subheaders requires that things happen in header order, but I want to go in timeline order, and I don't think you can do clean breaks given that restriction. I'm presuming you could group them into types of steps in useful ways if you were so inclined and had a reason to go in that direction.

On second note, I do worry that people will think that #4 is both more endogenous and does more work than I see it as being and doing, and use that as a reason to think of this is a localized and conditional problem. But in terms of how to solve that?

It's hard and important. Enough so that it's often going to be worth designing and/or splitting the whole structure in order to keep this problem in check, even if such splits don't otherwise make any sense. And in general there's a whole set of thoughts I could give on how to try and measure performance more accurately. I'll put that in the stack of possible future things to say, but long series already super long and I don't think I have anything great to suggest here, unfortunately.

Comment by zvi on Moloch Hasn’t Won · 2020-01-19T21:59:30.156Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I did a little more work to make it flow better in OP, and I'm going to let it drop there unless a bunch of other people confirm they had this same issue and it actually mattered (and with the new version).

Comment by zvi on How to Escape From Immoral Mazes · 2020-01-19T21:41:07.047Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

My explicit advice above was that if you find yourself in that situation, down-scaling your lifestyle is prohibitive (e.g. it would break up your family) then you should seek to become a loser in the Rao sense. E.g. don't quit or outright rebel, but stop trying to advance further, do the minimum to not have anything disastrous happen, and make this clear to all parties at work, while trying to save as much as possible and plan a second act if you want one after that eventually fails to hold up.

If it's just 'you have comparative advantage doing this' then that's one of the big reasons I invested so much on the super-perfect competition concept - even if you do have this advantage, unless it is freaking impossibly huge, you are still better off not doing it because your edge won't be that big and you'll be facing far more competition than is justified by the prize. E.g. even if you really are so talented you 'deserve' to be a rock star, you still have to contend with all the people who try anyway, so only do it if you also can't do anything else, and here our edge over those fools who don't have such advantages is going to be much, much smalller, beyond those without the necessary minimum being ruled out, which my model says the system is at least good at.

If it's that you actively like this sort of thing, again I'd ask you to balance against the competition level and the fact that you get sick of anything if you get paid to do it enough for long enough, but I'd also wonder about what values/morality this question implied you already have. If I have ever been friends with such a person, I did not realize it. It seems like the less-murder-heavy version of Barry before he has a change of heart - TV hitman who claims it's what they're good at and that they somehow only kill bad people.

Comment by zvi on How to Escape From Immoral Mazes · 2020-01-19T21:31:10.465Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Agree that it could be +EV to sign on where you would learn specific skills - e.g. I am very confident that Year 1 at my firm is a very good school they pay you to go to! The question is whether you can trust yourself to execute on the exit strategy in light of what will happen to you and the choices you will be presented with. I'd be pretty scared of this failing.

Comment by zvi on The Road to Mazedom · 2020-01-19T21:20:58.701Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Without anchoring anyone too much on my question elsewhere in the thread: I would say that this is certainly a central case of maze behavior and points in the correct direction, but as a definition of all maze behavior it is importantly too small a class of things. There is something more fundamental going on, and it is a Fnord (I have Fnord as the top of my future post pile, where Fnord is a thing that makes you want to not notice look at it or notice it.)

Comment by zvi on The Road to Mazedom · 2020-01-19T21:17:22.514Z · score: 5 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Yes, that is what it is intended to mean, while noting that 'acting like a maze' or 'doing what it takes to get ahead in a maze' is in general a maze-creating and maze-supporting behavior.

Agree with Raemon that I haven't done the best job summarizing exactly what maze behaviors actually are. I attempted with this post to summarize my model of how mazes come to be and become powerful, but that is a different question. I will consider writing an explicit post to cover this, since it isn't in any of the scheduled posts either, but seems like an important thing to have. Thank you for pointing this out.

I would like to take this opportunity to ask others, without anchoring them with an answer: If you had to give a short summary answer to "What exactly are maze behaviors?" what would you say? I want to know what is being communicated, and also people might have their own insights/perspectives/behaviors.

Comment by zvi on Moloch Hasn’t Won · 2020-01-17T12:13:01.207Z · score: 19 (6 votes) · LW · GW

Happy to delete the word 'you' there since it's doing no work. Not going to edit this version, but will update OP and mods are free to fix this one. Also took opportunity to do a sentence break-up.

As for saying explicitly that slavery is bad, well, pretty strong no. I'm not going to waste people's time doing that, nor am I going to invite further concern trolling, or the implication that when I do not explicitly condemn something it means I might secretly support it or something. If someone needs reassurance that someone talking about slavery as one of the horrible things also opposes a less horrible form of slavery, then they are not the target audience.

Comment by zvi on What is Success in an Immoral Maze? · 2020-01-17T12:05:25.942Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

'Rat race' is a highly related concept. It's mostly a subset, I think, although your view of the term may vary. Rat race illustrates the idea that when all the workers try harder to get ahead of other workers, everyone does lots more work, often to no useful end, without people on net getting ahead. Or, alternatively, that you do all this work just to stay in place. It certainly has implications of 'what I am doing doesn't actually matter' and also 'what I am doing is a zero-sum game" which implies the first thing.

Comment by zvi on Reality-Revealing and Reality-Masking Puzzles · 2020-01-17T01:26:35.230Z · score: 48 (24 votes) · LW · GW

As I commented elsewhere I think this is great, but there's one curious choice here, which is to compare exposure to The Singularity as a de-conversion experience and loss of faith rather than a conversion experience where one gets faith. The parallel is from someone going from believer to atheist, rather than atheist to believer.

Which in some ways totally makes sense, because rationality goes hand in hand with de-conversion, as the Sequences are quite explicit about over and over again, and often people joining the community are in fact de-converting from a religion (and when and if they convert to one, they almost always leave the community). And of course, because the Singularity is a real physical thing that might really happen and really do all this, and so on.

But I have the system-1 gut instinct that this is actually getting the sign wrong in ways that are going to make it hard to understand people's problem here and how to best solve it.

(As opposed to it actually being a religion, which it isn't.)

From the perspective of a person processing this kind of new information, the fact that the information is true or false, or supernatural versus physical, doesn't seem that relevant. What might be much more relevant is that you now believe that this new thing is super important and that you can potentially have really high leverage over that thing. Which then makes everything feel unimportant and worth sacrificing - you now need to be obsessed with new hugely important thing and anyone who isn't and could help needs to be woken up, etc etc.

If you suddenly don't believe in God and therefore don't know if you can be justified in buying hot cocoa, that's pretty weird. But if you suddenly do believe in God and therefore feel you can't drink hot cocoa, that's not that weird.

People who suddenly believe in God don't generally have the 'get up in the morning' question on their mind, because the religions mostly have good answers for that one. But the other stuff all seems to fit much better?

Or, think about the concept Anna discusses about people's models being 'tangled up' with stuff they've discarded because they lost faith. If God doesn't exist why not [do horrible things] and all that because nothing matters so do what you want. But this seems like mostly the opposite, it's that the previous justifications have been overwritten by bigger concerns.

Comment by zvi on Reality-Revealing and Reality-Masking Puzzles · 2020-01-17T01:11:12.654Z · score: 39 (15 votes) · LW · GW

This post is great and much needed, and makes me feel much better about the goings-on at CFAR.

It is easy to get the impression that the concerns raised in this post are not being seen, or are being seen from inside the framework of people making those same mistakes. Sometimes these mistakes are disorientation that people know are disruptive and need to be dealt with, but other times I've encountered many who view such things as right and proper, and view not having such a perspective as blameworthy. I even frequently find an undertone of 'if you don't have this orientation something went wrong.'

It's clear from this post that this is not what is happening for Anna/CFAR, which is great news.

This now provides, to me, two distinct things.

One, a clear anchor from which to make it clear that failure to engage with regular life, and failure to continue to have regular moral values and desires and cares and hobbies and so on, is a failure mode of some sort of phase transition that we have been causing. That it is damaging, and it is to be avoided slash the damage contained and people helped to move on as smoothly and quickly as possible.

Two, the framework of reality-revealing versus reality-masking, which has universal application. If this resonates with people it might be a big step forward in being able to put words to key things, including things I'm trying to get at in the Mazes sequence.

Comment by zvi on How to Escape From Immoral Mazes · 2020-01-17T01:02:01.566Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

1: First are should be 'what if'

2: Difference is that third-to-last question is about the 'can't afford it' concern, which is distinct from generally being trapped. Could see changing it to be last three, or unifying the notes.

3: Differently. Arcane here means 'complex and obscure details that need to be mastered and done correctly, or it won't work'. Incantation here means 'a thing you say in order to evoke a particular response' in this case a social web pattern.

Comment by zvi on How to Escape From Immoral Mazes · 2020-01-16T19:51:09.767Z · score: 8 (4 votes) · LW · GW

When I wrote The Fear down, I was thinking about a specific past Magic: The Gathering article, but I was unable to find it; if someone else knows where it still exists that would be great. The Fear was when people built their plans for matches in terror of the one card/thing that they had no way to deal with reasonably, as opposed to accepting that such a thing was unlikely but would be extremely bad if it happened, and messing tons of other things up. There's also a Lily Allen song of the same name which is related, and might be worth using if I can't find the article.

I don't know if I have much advice beyond what I already said above, but my basic response is that this isn't how life works, at least not going forward. There is no safe path, and maze work does not make your future safer. The biggest problem with The Fear is that it leads one to look for the actions that tell a story that you are doing the thing that means that when you lose/fail it won't be your fault, as opposed to the thing that actually makes you win/succeed.

Very happy that you found a good solution.

Comment by zvi on How to Escape From Immoral Mazes · 2020-01-16T19:45:06.421Z · score: 11 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Thank you for all that. I worry about the same thing - that this will not feel/be sufficiently actionable for people, and they won't be that likely to change their situations based on it. As George Carlin says, some people need practical advice. I didn't know how to go about providing what such a person would need, on that level. How would you go about doing that? It feels like a book-length or longer problem, the same way one can't write a post on how to prepare for a street fight that would actually be that good, beyond giving basic pointers (like run away).

Comment by zvi on A LessWrong Crypto Autopsy · 2020-01-16T15:38:36.824Z · score: 8 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I do not think this is a strong analysis. Things were a lot more complicated than this, on many levels. Analyzing that in detail would be more interesting. This post seems more interested in the question of 'what grade should we get for our efforts' than in learning from the situation going forward, which is what I think is the far more interesting problem.

That's not to say that the actual evaluation is especially unfair. I give myself very low marks because I had the trading skills to know better, or I should have had them, and the spare cycles to deal with it as well, with the key insight being that the fact that it was super hard to deal with was actually a reason to buy, not a reason to avoid buying. But it wasn't until I worked with much better traders (who also, of course, all failed to bother acting despite knowing about it, the desk head said BTC was a "screaming buy" at $1 long before I got there, then everyone did nothing) that I figured out what the real mistake here was. Any good analysis, to me, has to say why we should have believed BTC but not fallen for countless other things, even if it turns out that BTC did so well that it would have fine to fall for 100 (or 1000!) other similar things at the same time, in some sense...

Comment by zvi on Being a Robust Agent (v2) · 2020-01-16T15:23:52.426Z · score: 9 (5 votes) · LW · GW

As you would expect from someone who was one of the inspirations for the post, I strongly approve of the insight/advice contained herein. I also agree with the previous review that there is not a known better write-up of this concept. I like that this gets the thing out there compactly.

Where I am disappointed is that this does not feel like it gets across the motivation behind this or why it is so important - I neither read this and think 'yes that explains why I care about this so much' or 'I expect that this would move the needle much on people's robustness as agents going forward if they read this.'

So I guess the takeaway for me looking back is, good first attempt and I wouldn't mind including it in the final list, but someone needs to try again?

It is worth noting that Jacob did *exactly* the adjustments that I would hope would result from this post if it worked as intended, so perhaps it is better than I give it credit for? Would be curious if anyone else had similar things to report.

Comment by zvi on Please Critique Things for the Review! · 2020-01-16T15:11:21.963Z · score: 7 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I'm finding that posts have to be read and reviewed one at a time to do this properly. As a result there's no way I'm going to get to the bulk of the posts in time, even after deciding several days ago to make this one of my priorities for free time. And yeah, the whole thing feels mostly like work, which can't help.

Comment by zvi on On Doing the Improbable · 2020-01-16T13:23:08.484Z · score: 9 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I love how cleanly this brings up its point and asks the question. My answer is essentially that you can do this if and only if you can create expectation of Successful Failure in some way. Thus, if failing person's real mission can be the friends they made along the way or skills they developed or lessons learned, or they still got a healthy paycheck, or the attempt brings them honor, or whatever, that's huge.

Writing a full response is on my list of things to eventually do, which is rare for posts that are over a year old.