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Daniel_Burfoot comments on Understanding your understanding - Less Wrong

69 Post author: SilasBarta 22 March 2010 10:33PM

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Comment author: Daniel_Burfoot 23 March 2010 02:18:19PM 2 points [-]

Yes, actually the Level 0 of random guessing is not so bad. It implies that you are not systematically wrong.

In the language of compression, a Level 0 understanding would correspond to a naive or uniform encoding like PPM. Not great, but at least you're not inflating the image.

Comment author: SilasBarta 23 March 2010 03:51:07PM *  4 points [-]

Good point. As Eliezer Yudkowsky often notes, it's possible to do a lot worse than maximum entropy guessing. So perhaps the negative levels are when your "understanding" is so bad, you would improve by random guessing. In practice, though, even this kind of performance has some good non-randomness to it. E.g., even when you guess while at a negative level, you don't apply randomization at the level of letters, leading to guesses like "ghftklw" for an explanation of light.

Comment author: Morendil 23 March 2010 02:27:25PM 3 points [-]

Level 0 is knowledge, of a sort. I may not know or understand anything about (say) finite element methods, but I know that such a thing exists, roughly what domain it comes from and that I can, if necessary, locate and acquire more accurate knowledge about it.

Level 0 should perhaps be reserved for "unknown unknowns", the things you don't know you don't know, where you don't even know there's a password to guess.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 23 March 2010 04:10:42PM 1 point [-]

I may have been talking about a level at 1/2, where you don't exactly know there's a password, but you're unsystematically collecting enough experience to have a basis for theories.

Comment author: Strange7 23 March 2010 02:56:31PM 0 points [-]

I would call unknown unknowns something like level -1.