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AspiringKnitter comments on Welcome to Less Wrong! - Less Wrong

48 Post author: MBlume 16 April 2009 09:06AM

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Comment author: AspiringKnitter 19 December 2011 07:28:45AM 3 points [-]

Hello. I expect you won't like me because I'm Christian and female and don't want to be turned into an immortal computer-brain-thing that acts more like Eliezer thinks it should. I've been lurking for a long time. The first time I found this place I followed a link to OvercomingBias from AnneC's blog and from there, without quite realizing it, found myself archive-binging and following another link here. But then I stopped and left and then later I got linked to the Sequences from Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality.

A combination of the whole evaporative cooling thing and looking at an old post that wondered why there weren't more women convinced me to join. You guys are attracting a really narrow demographic and I was starting to wonder whether you were just going to turn into a cult and I should ignore you.

...And I figure I can still leave if that ends up happening, but if everyone followed the logic I just espoused, it'll raise the probability that you start worshiping the possibility of becoming immortal polyamorous whatever and taking over the world. I'd rather hang around and keep the Singularity from being an AI that forcibly exterminates all morality and all people who don't agree with Eliezer Yudkowsky. Not that any of you (especially EY) WANT that, exactly. But anyway, my point is, With Folded Hands is a pretty bad failure mode for the worst-case scenario where EC occurs and EY gets to AI first.

Okay, ready to be shouted down. I'll be counting the downvotes as they roll in, I guess. You guys really hate Christians, after all. (Am I actually allowed to be here or am I banned for my religion?) I'll probably just leave soon anyway. Nothing good can come of this. I don't know why I'm doing this. I shouldn't be here; you don't want me here, not to mention I probably shouldn't bother talking to people who only want me to hate God. Why am I even here again? Seriously, why am I not just lurking? That would make more sense.

Comment author: Nornagest 19 December 2011 09:04:51AM *  21 points [-]

That's some interesting reasoning. I've met people before who avoided leaving an evaporatively cooling group because they recognized the process and didn't want to contribute to it, but you might be the first person I've encountered who joined a group to counteract it (or to stave it off before it begins, given that LW seems to be both growing and to some extent diversifying right now). Usually people just write groups like that off. Aside from the odd troll or ideologue that claims similar motivations but is really just looking for a fight, at least-- but that doesn't seem to fit what you've written here.

Anyway. I'm not going to pretend that you aren't going to find some hostility towards Abrahamic religion here, nor that you won't be able to find any arguably problematic (albeit mostly unconsciously so) attitudes regarding sex and/or gender. Act as your conscience dictates should you find either one intolerable. Speaking for myself, though, I take the Common Interest of Many Causes concept seriously: better epistemology is good for everyone, not just for transhumanists of a certain bent. Your belief structure might differ somewhat from the tribal average around here, but the actual goal of this tribe is to make better thinkers, and I don't think anyone's going to want to exclude you from that as long as you approach it in good faith.

In fewer words: welcome to Less Wrong.

Comment author: juliawise 19 December 2011 11:44:14AM 14 points [-]

Hi, Aspiring Knitter. I also find the Less Wrong culture and demographics quite different from my normal ones (being a female in the social sciences who's sympathetic to religion though not a believer. Also, as it happens, a knitter.) I stuck around because I find it refreshing to be able to pick apart ideas without getting written off as too brainy or too cold, which tends to happen in the rest of my life.

Sorry for the lack of persecution - you seem to have been hoping for it.

Comment author: AspiringKnitter 19 December 2011 06:30:07PM 9 points [-]

Very glad not to be persecuted, actually. Yay!

Comment author: Ezekiel 26 December 2011 11:04:07AM 10 points [-]

Hi, AspiringKnitter!

There have been several openly religious people on this site, of varying flavours. You don't (or shouldn't) get downvoted just for declaring your beliefs; you get downvoted for faulty logic, poor understanding and useless or irrelevant comments. As someone who stopped being religious as a result of reading this site, I'd love for more believers to come along. My impulse is to start debating you right away, but I realise that'd just be rude. If you're interested, though, drop me a PM, because I'm still considering the possibility I might have made the wrong decision.

The evaporative cooling risk is worrying, now that you mention it... Have you actually noticed that happening here during your lurking days, or are you just pointing out that it's a risk?

Oh, and dedicating an entire paragraph to musing about the downvotes you'll probably get, while an excellent tactic for avoiding said downvotes, is also annoying. Please don't do that.

Comment author: AspiringKnitter 27 December 2011 02:13:08AM 6 points [-]

As someone who stopped being religious as a result of reading this site, I'd love for more believers to come along.

Uh-oh. LOL.

My impulse is to start debating you right away, but I realise that'd just be rude.

Normally, I'm open to random debates about everything. I pride myself on it. However, I'm getting a little sick of religious debate since the last few days of participating in it. I suppose I still have to respond to a couple of people below, but I'm starting to fear a never-ending, energy-sapping, GPA-sabotaging argument where agreeing to disagree is literally not an option. It's my own fault for showing up here, but I'm starting to realize why "agree to disagree" was ever considered by anyone at all for anything given its obvious wrongness: you just can't do anything if you spend all your time on a never-ending argument.

The evaporative cooling risk is worrying, now that you mention it... Have you actually noticed that happening here during your lurking days, or are you just pointing out that it's a risk?

Haven't been lurking long enough.

Oh, and dedicating an entire paragraph to musing about the downvotes you'll probably get, while an excellent tactic for avoiding said downvotes, is also annoying. Please don't do that.

In the future I will not. See below. Thank you for calling me out on that.

Comment author: TheOtherDave 27 December 2011 02:22:33AM 12 points [-]

Talk of Aumann Agreement notwithstanding, the usual rules of human social intercourse that allow "I am no longer interested in continuing this discussion" as a legitimate conversational move continue to apply on this site. If you don't wish to discuss your religious beliefs, then don't.

Comment author: AspiringKnitter 27 December 2011 02:52:02AM 5 points [-]

Ah, I didn't know that. I've never had a debate that didn't end with "we all agree, yay", some outside force stopping us or everyone hating each other and hurling insults.

Comment author: TheOtherDave 27 December 2011 03:30:24AM 2 points [-]

Jeez. What would "we all agree, yay" even look like in this case?

Comment author: AspiringKnitter 27 December 2011 03:36:56AM 6 points [-]

I suppose either I'd become an atheist or everyone here would convert to Christianity.

Comment author: Prismattic 27 December 2011 04:57:57AM 8 points [-]

The assumption that everyone here is either an atheist or a Christian is already wrong.

Comment author: AspiringKnitter 27 December 2011 05:01:11AM 5 points [-]

Good point. Thank you for pointing it out.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 27 December 2011 03:56:48AM 5 points [-]

There are additional possibilities, like everyone agreeing on agnosticism or on some other religion.

Comment author: lessdazed 27 December 2011 04:32:52PM 3 points [-]

Beliefs should all be probabilistic.

I think this rules out some and only some branches of Christianity, but more importantly it impels accepting behaviorist criteria for any difference in kind between "atheists" and "Christians" if we really want categories like that.

Comment author: TheOtherDave 27 December 2011 04:13:56AM 3 points [-]

Hm.

So, if I'm understanding you, you considered only four possible outcomes likely from your interactions with this site: everyone converts to Christianity, you get deconverted from Christianity, the interaction is forcibly stopped, or the interaction degenerates to hateful insults. Yes?

I'd be interested to know how likely you considered those options, and if your expectations about likely outcomes have changed since then.

Comment author: AspiringKnitter 27 December 2011 05:00:39AM 7 points [-]

Well, for any given conversation about religion, yes. (Obviously, I expect different things if I post a comment about HP:MoR on that thread.)

I expected the last one, since mostly no matter what I do, internet discussions on anything important have a tendency to do that. (And it's not just when I'm participating in them!) I considered any conversions highly unlikely and didn't really expect the interaction to be stopped.

My expectations have changed a lot. After a while I realized that hateful insults weren't happening very much here on Less Wrong, which is awesome, and that the frequency didn't seem to increase with the length of the discussion, unlike other parts of the internet. So I basically assumed the conversation would go on forever. Now, having been told otherwise, I realize that conversations can actually be ended by the participants without one of these things happening.

That was a failure on my part, but would have correctly predicted a lot of the things I'd experienced in the past. I just took an outside view when an inside view would have been better because it really is different this time. That failure is adequately explained by the use of the outside view heuristic, which is usually useful, and the fact that I ended up in a new situation which lacked the characteristics that caused what I observed in the past.

Comment author: Emile 27 December 2011 11:47:01AM 3 points [-]

I'm starting to fear a never-ending, energy-sapping, GPA-sabotaging argument where agreeing to disagree is literally not an option.

There isn't a strong expectation here that people should never agree to disagree - see this old discussion, or this one.

That being said, persistent disagreement is a warning sign that at least one side isn't being perfectly rational (which covers both things like "too attached to one's self-image as a contrarian" and like "doesn't know how to spell out explicitly the reasons for his belief").

Comment author: Incorrect 27 December 2011 03:45:07AM *  2 points [-]

I tried to look for a religious debate elsewhere in this thread but could not find any except the tangential discussion of schizophrenia.

However, I'm getting a little sick of religious debate since the last few days of participating in it.

Then please feel free to ignore this comment. On the other hand, if you ever feel like responding then by all means do.

A lack of response to this comment should not be considered evidence that AspiringKnitter could not have brilliantly responded.

What is the primary reason you believe in God and what is the nature of this reason?

By nature of the reason, I mean something like these:

  • inductive inference: you believe adding a description of whatever you understand of God leads to a simpler explanation of the universe without losing any predictive power

  • intuitive inductive inference: you believe in god because of intuition. you also believe that there is an underlying argument using inductive inference, you just don't know what it is

  • intuitive metaphysical: you believe in god because of intuition. you believe there is some other justification this intuition works

Comment author: CronoDAS 19 December 2011 10:16:17AM 10 points [-]

You guys really hate Christians, after all. (Am I actually allowed to be here or am I banned for my religion?)

Technically, it's "Christianity" that some of us don't like very much. Many of us live in countries where people who call themselves "Christians" compose much of the population, and going around hating everyone we see won't get us very far in life. We might wish that they weren't Christians, but while we're dreaming we might as well wish for a pony, too.

And, no, we don't ban people for saying that they're Christians. It takes a lot to get banned here.

I shouldn't be here; you don't want me here, not to mention I probably shouldn't bother talking to people who only want me to hate God.

Well, so far you haven't given us much of a reason to want you gone. Also, people who call themselves atheists usually don't really care whether or not you "hate God" any more than we care about whether you "hate Santa Claus".

Why am I even here again? Seriously, why am I not just lurking? That would make more sense.

Because you feel you have something you want to say?

Comment author: Alicorn 19 December 2011 03:21:06PM 9 points [-]

while we're dreaming we might as well wish for a pony, too.

Do you want a pony?

Comment author: CronoDAS 20 December 2011 08:25:54AM 2 points [-]
Comment author: Vaniver 19 December 2011 07:35:02PM 2 points [-]

Amusingly, one of the things I've found after becoming a brony is that I mentally edit "wish for a pony" to "wish to be a pony."

Comment author: Bugmaster 20 December 2011 04:02:32AM 2 points [-]
Comment author: cousin_it 19 December 2011 11:45:25AM *  9 points [-]

EY has read With Folded Hands and mentioned it in his CEV writeup as one more dystopia to be averted. This task isn't getting much attention now because unfriendly AI seems to be more probable and more dangerous than almost-friendly AI. Of course we would welcome any research on preventing almost-friendly AI :-)

Comment author: Bugmaster 20 December 2011 12:43:06AM 8 points [-]

the possibility of becoming immortal polyamorous whatever and taking over the world.

I think I just found my new motto in life :-)

You guys really hate Christians, after all.

I personally am an atheist, and a fairly uncompromising one at that, but I still find this line a little offensive. I don't hate all Christians. Many (or probably even most) Christians are perfectly wonderful people; many of them are better than myself, in fact. Now, I do believe that Christians are disastrously wrong about their core beliefs, and that the privileged position that Christianity enjoys in our society is harmful. So, I disagree with most Christians on this topic, but I don't hate them. I can't hate someone simply for being wrong, that just makes no sense.

That said, if you are the kind of Christian who proclaims, in all seriousness, that (for example) all gay people should be executed because they cause God to send down hurricanes -- then I will find it very, very difficult not to hate you. But you don't sound like that kind of a person.

Comment author: AspiringKnitter 20 December 2011 01:31:12AM 4 points [-]

If you can call down hurricanes, tell me and I'll revise my beliefs to take that into account. (But then I'd just be in favor of deporting gays to North Korea or wherever else I decide I don't like. What a waste to execute them! It could also be interesting to send you all to the Sahara, and by interesting I mean ecologically destructive and probably a bad idea not to mention expensive and needlessly cruel.) As long as you're not actually doing that (if you are, please stop), and as long as you aren't causing some other form of disaster, I can't think of a good reason why I should be advocating your execution.

Comment author: CronoDAS 22 December 2011 12:26:20AM 5 points [-]

Calling down hurricanes is easy. Actually getting them to come when you call them is harder. :)

Comment author: Bugmaster 20 December 2011 01:35:14AM 5 points [-]

Sadly, I myself do not possess the requisite sexual orientation, otherwise I'd be calling down hurricanes all over the place. And meteorites. And angry frogs ! Mwa ha ha !

Comment author: Insert_Idionym_Here 20 December 2011 05:46:41AM 0 points [-]

Bugmaster, I call down hurricanes everyday. It never gets boring. Meteorites are a little harder, but I do those on occasion. They aren't quite as fun.

But the angry frogs?

The angry frogs?

Those don't leave a shattered wasteland behind, so you can just terrorize people over and over again with those. Just wonderful.

Note: All of the above is complete bull-honkey. I want this to be absolutely clear. 100%, fertilizer-grade, bull-honkey.

Comment author: Kaj_Sotala 21 December 2011 10:02:18AM 4 points [-]

If I had a smartphone, I could call down Angry Birds on people. Well, on pigs at least.

Comment author: thomblake 19 December 2011 03:41:13PM 17 points [-]

people who only want me to hate God

I don't think there are any of those around here. Most of us would prefer you didn't even believe in gods!

Comment author: TimS 19 December 2011 03:43:06PM 6 points [-]

Welcome to LessWrong. Our goal is to learn how to achieve our goals better. One method is to observe the world and update our beliefs based on what we see (You'd think this would be an obvious thing to do, but history shows that it isn't so). Another method we use is to notice the ways that humans tend to fail at thinking (i.e. have cognitive bias).

Anyway, I hope you find those ideas useful. Like many communities, we are a diverse bunch. Each of our ultimate goals likely differs, but we recognize that the world is far from how any of us want it to be, and that what each of us wants is in roughly the same direction from here. In short, the extent to which we are an insular community is a failure of the community, because we'd all like to raise the sanity line. Thus, welcome to LW. Help us be better.

Comment author: JoachimSchipper 19 December 2011 10:48:10AM *  6 points [-]

Not everyone agrees with Eliezer on everything; this is usually not that explicit, but consider e.g. the number of people talking about relationships vs. the number of people talking about cryonics or FAI - LW doesn't act, collectively, as if it really believes Eliezer is right. It does assume that there is no God/god/supernatural, though.

(Also, where does this idea of atheists hating God come from? Most atheists have better things to do than hang on /r/atheism!)

Comment author: AspiringKnitter 19 December 2011 06:34:12PM 7 points [-]

I got the idea from various posts where people have said they don't even like the Christian God if he's real (didn't someone say he was like Azathoth?) and consider him some kind of monster.

I can see I totally got you guys wrong. Sorry to have underestimated your niceness.

Comment author: TheOtherDave 19 December 2011 06:46:48PM 26 points [-]

For my own part, I think you're treating "being nice" and "liking the Christian God" and "hating Christians" and "wanting other people to hate God" and "only wanting other people to hate God" and "forcibly exterminating all morality" and various other things as much more tightly integrated concepts than they actually are, and it's interfering with your predictions.

So I suggest separating those concepts more firmly in your own mind.

Comment author: CuSithBell 19 December 2011 07:23:18PM 10 points [-]

To be fair, I'm sure a bunch of people here disapprove of some actions by the Christian God in the abstract (mostly Old Testament stuff, probably, and the Problem of Evil). But yeah, for the most part LWers are pretty nice, if a little idiosyncratic!

Azathoth (the "blind idiot god") is the local metaphor for evolution - a pointless, monomaniacal force with vast powers but no conscious goal-seeking ability and thus a tendency to cause weird side-effects (such as human culture).

Comment author: CronoDAS 19 December 2011 09:21:22PM 7 points [-]

Well, if there were an omnipotent Creator, I'd certainly have a few bones to pick with him/her/it...

Comment author: kilobug 19 December 2011 07:16:32PM 7 points [-]

Azathoth is how Eliezer described the process of evolution, not how he described the christian god.

Comment author: MarkusRamikin 19 December 2011 07:35:14PM *  5 points [-]

She's possibly thinking about Cthulhu.

Comment author: Anubhav 10 January 2012 01:52:22AM 2 points [-]

Not everyone agrees with Eliezer on everything; this is usually not that explicit, but consider e.g. the number of people talking about relationships vs. the number of people talking about cryonics or FAI - LW doesn't act, collectively, as if it really believes Eliezer is right

Classic example of bikeshedding.

Comment author: Emile 19 December 2011 09:44:12AM *  15 points [-]

Welcome to LessWrong!

You guys really hate Christians, after all. (Am I actually allowed to be here or am I banned for my religion?)

Do we? Do you hate Hindus, or do you just think they're wrong?

One thing I slightly dislike about "internet atheists" is the exclusive focus on religion as a source of all that's wrong in the world, whereas you get very similar forms of irrationality in partisan politics or nationalism. I'm not alone in holding that view - see this for some related ideas. At best, religion can be about focusing human's natural irrationality in areas that don't matter (cosmology instead of economics), while facilitating morality and cooperative behavior. I understand that some Americans atheists are more hostile to religion than I am (I'm French, religion isn't a big issue here, except for Islam), because they have to deal with religious stupidity on a daily basis.

Note that a Mormon wrote a series of posts that was relatively well received, so you may be overestimating LessWrong's hostility to religion.

Comment author: Gust 21 December 2011 04:59:32PM *  5 points [-]

Welcome! And congratulations for creating what's probably the longest and most interesting introduction thread of all time (I haven't read all the introductions threads, though).

I've read all your posts here. I now have to update my belief about rationality among christians: so long, the most "rational" I'd found turned out to be nothing beyond a repetitive expert in rationalization. Most others are sometimes relatively rational in most aspects of life, but choose to ignore the hard questions about the religion they profess (my own parents fall in this category). You seem to have clear thought, and will to rethink your ideas. I hope you stay around.

On a side note, as others already stated below, I think you misunderstand what Eliezer wants to do with FAI. I agree with what MixedNuts said here, though I would also recommend reading The Hidden Complexity of Wishes, if you haven't yet. Eliezer is more sane than it seems at first, in my opinion.

PS: How are you feeling about the reception so far?

EDIT: Clarifying: I agree with what MixedNuts said in the third and fourth paragraphs.

Comment author: AspiringKnitter 21 December 2011 06:41:24PM *  4 points [-]

I think I've gotten such a nice reception that I've also updated in the direction of "most atheists aren't cruel or hateful in everyday life" and "LessWrong believes in its own concern for other people because most members are nice".

The wish on top of that page is actually very problematic...

Oh, and do people usually upvote for niceness?

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 27 December 2011 12:39:01PM 2 points [-]

Oh, and do people usually upvote for niceness?

The ordinary standard of courtesy here is pretty high, and I don't think you get upvotes for meeting it. You can get upvotes for being nice (assuming that you also include content) if it's a fraught issue.

Comment author: [deleted] 24 December 2011 10:39:12AM *  2 points [-]

I've also updated in the direction of "most atheists aren't cruel or hateful in everyday life"

I'm not sure atheist LW users would be a good sample of “most atheists”. I'd expect there to be a sizeable fraction of people who are atheists merely as a form of contrarianism.

Comment author: dlthomas 21 December 2011 06:52:51PM 2 points [-]

The wish on top of that page is actually very problematic...

Yes, that was a part of the point of the article - people try to fully specify what they want, it gets this complex, and it's still missing things; meanwhile, people understand what someone means when they say "I wish I was immortal."

Comment author: wedrifid 21 December 2011 06:43:20PM 2 points [-]

Oh, and do people usually upvote for niceness?

For a certain value of niceness, yes.

Comment author: dlthomas 21 December 2011 05:03:41PM 3 points [-]

Upvoted for linking The Hidden Complexity of Wishes. If Eliezer was actually advocating adjusting people's sex drives, rather than speculating as to the form a compromise might take, he wasn't following his own advice.

Comment author: lavalamp 20 December 2011 07:48:02PM 5 points [-]

... I'd rather hang around and keep the Singularity from being an AI that forcibly exterminates all morality and all people who don't agree with Eliezer Yudkowsky.

Upvote for courage, and I'd give a few more if I could. (Though you might consider rereading some of EY's CEV posts, because I don't think you've accurately summarized his intentions.)

You guys really hate Christians, after all.

I don't hate Christians. I was a very serious one for most of my life. Practically everyone I know and care about IRL is Christian.

I don't think LW deserves all the credit for my deconversion, but it definitely hastened the event.

Comment author: kilobug 19 December 2011 09:53:26AM 5 points [-]

Welcome to Less Wrong.

I don't think much people here hate Christians. At least I don't. I'll just speak for myself (even if I think my view is quite shared here) : I have a harsh view on religions themselves, believing they are mind-killing, barren and dangerous (just open an history book), but that doesn't mean I hate the people who do believe (as long as they don't hate us atheists). I've christian friends, and I don't like them less because of their religion. I'm a bit trying to "open their mind" because I believe that knowing and accepting the truth makes you stronger, but I don't push too much the issue either.

For the "that acts more like Eliezer thinks it should" part, well, the Coherent Extrapolated Volition of Eliezer is supposed to be coherent over the whole of humanity, not over himself. Eliezer is not trying to make an AI that'll turn the world into his own paradise, but that'll turn it into something better according to the common wishes of all (or almost all) of humanity. He may fail at it, but if it does, he's more likely to tile the world with smiley faces then to turn it into its own paradise ;)

Comment author: [deleted] 25 December 2011 08:58:56PM *  33 points [-]

Wow. Some of your other posts are intelligent, but this is pure troll-bait.

EDIT: I suppose I should share my reasoning. Copied from my other post lower down the thread:

Hello, I expect you won't like me, I'm <group you dislike for allegedly irrational reasons>

Classic troll opening. Challenges us to take the post seriously. Our collective 'manhood' is threatened if react normally (eg saying "trolls fuck off").

dont want to be turned onto an immortal computer-brain-thing that acts more like Eliezer thinks it should

Insulting straw man with a side of "you are an irrational cult".

I've been lurking for a long time... overcoming bias... sequences... HP:MOR... namedropping

"Seriously, I'm one of you guys". Concern troll disclaimer. Classic.

evaporative cooling... women... I'm here to help you not be a cult.

Again undertones of "you are a cult and you must accept my medicine or turn into a cult". Again we are challenged to take it seriously.

I just espoused, it'll raise the probability that you start worshiping the possibility of becoming immortal polyamorous whatever and taking over the world.

I didn't quite understand this part, but again, straw man caricature.

I'd rather hang around and keep the Singularity from being an AI that forcibly exterminates all morality and all people who don't agree with Eliezer Yudkowsky. Not that any of you (especially EY) WANT that, exactly. But anyway, my point is, With Folded Hands is a pretty bad failure mode for the worst-case scenario where EC occurs and EY gets to AI first.

Theres a rhetorical meme on 4chan that elegantly deals with this kind of crap:

implying we don't care about friendliness
implying you know more about friendliness than EY

'nuff said

Okay, ready to be shouted down. I'll be counting the downvotes as they roll in, I guess. You guys really hate Christians, after all.

classic reddit downvote preventer:

  1. Post a troll or other worthless opinion
  2. Imply that the hivemind wont like it
  3. Appeal to people's fear of hivemind
  4. Collect upvotes.

You guys really hate Christians, after all. (Am I actually allowed to be here or am I banned for my religion?)

again implying irrational insider/outsider dynamic, hivemind tendencies and even censorship.

Of course the kneejerk response is "no no, we don't hate you and we certainly won't censor you; please we want more christian trolls like you". EDIT: Ha! well predicted I say. I just looked at the other 500 responses. /EDIT

I'll probably just leave soon anyway. Nothing good can come of this. I don't know why I'm doing this. I shouldn't be here; you don't want me here, not to mention I probably shouldn't bother talking to people who only want me to hate God. Why am I even here again? Seriously, why am I not just lurking? That would make more sense.

And top it off with a bit of sympathetic character, damsel-in-distress crap. EDIT: Oh and the bit about hating God is a staw-man. /EDIT

This is not necessarily deliberate, but it doesn't have to be.

Trolling is a art. and Aspiring_Knitter is a artist. 10/10.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 25 December 2011 10:48:59PM 9 points [-]

You've got an interesting angle there, but I don't think AspiringKnitter is a troll in the pernicious sense-- her post has led to a long reasonable discussion that she's made a significant contribution to.

I do think she wanted attention, and her post had more than a few hooks to get it. However, I don't think it's useful to describe trolls as "just wanting attention". People post because they want attention. The important thing is whether they repay attention with anything valuable.

Comment author: [deleted] 25 December 2011 11:44:26PM 11 points [-]

I don't have the timeline completely straight, but it looks to me like AspiringKnitter came in trolling and quickly changed gears to semi-intelligent discussion. Such things happen. AspiringKnitter is no longer a troll, that's for sure; like you say "her post has led to a long reasonable discussion that she's made a significant contribution to".

All that, however, does not change the fact that this particular post looks, walks, and quacks like troll-bait and should be treated as such. I try to stay out of the habit of judging posts on the quality of the poster's other stuff.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 26 December 2011 08:32:18AM 3 points [-]

I don't know if this is worth saying, but you look a lot more like a troll to me than she does, though of a more subtle variety than I'm used to.

You seem to be taking behavior which has been shown to be in the harmless-to-useful range and picking a fight about it.

Comment author: [deleted] 26 December 2011 08:59:33PM 9 points [-]

Thanks for letting me know. If most people disagree with my assessment, I'll adjust my troll-resistance threshold.

I just want to make sure we don't end up tolerating people who appear to have trollish intent. AspiringKnitter turned out to be positive, but I still think that particular post needed to be called out.

Well Kept Gardens Die By Pacifism.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 26 December 2011 09:55:35PM 5 points [-]

You're welcome. This makes me glad I didn't come out swinging-- I'd suspected (actually I had to resist the temptation to obsess about the idea) that you were a troll yourself.

If you don't mind writing about it, what sort of places have you been hanging out that you got your troll sensitivity calibrated so high? I'm phrasing it as "what sort of places" in case you'd rather not name particular websites.

Comment author: [deleted] 26 December 2011 10:21:39PM 10 points [-]

what sort of places have you been hanging out that you got your troll sensitivity calibrated so high?

4chan, where there is an interesting dynamic around trolling and getting trolled. Getting trolled is low-status, calling out trolls correctly that no-one else caught is high-status, and trolling itself is god-status, calling troll incorrectly is low status like getting trolled. With that culture, the art of trolling, counter-trolling and troll detection gets well trained.

I learned a lot of trolling theory from reddit, (like the downvote preventer and concern trolling). The politics, anarchist, feminist and religious subreddits have a lot of good cases to study (they generally suck at managing community, tho).

I learned a lot of relevant philosophy of trolling and some more theory from /i/nsurgency boards and wikis (start at partyvan.info). Those communities are in a sorry state these days.

Alot of what I learned on 4chan and /i/ is not common knowledge around here and could be potentially useful. Maybe I'll beat some of it into a useful form and post it.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 26 December 2011 10:49:11PM 4 points [-]

That's interesting-- I've never hung out anywhere that trolling was high status.

In reddit and the like, how is consensus built around whether someone is a troll and/or is trolling in a particular case?

I think I understand concern trolling, which I understand to be giving advice which actually weakens the receiver's position, though I think the coinage "hlep" from is more widely useful--inappropriate, annoying/infuriating advice which is intended to be helpful but doesn't have enough thought behind it, but what's downvote preventer?

Hlep has a lot of overlap with other-optimizing.

I'd be interested in what you have to say about the interactions at 4chan and /i/, especially about breakdowns in political communities.

I've been mulling the question of how you identify and maintain good will-- to my mind, a lot of community breakdown is caused by tendencies to amplify disagreements between people who didn't start out being all that angry at each other.

Comment author: [deleted] 26 December 2011 11:25:29PM 3 points [-]

In reddit and the like, how is consensus built around whether someone is a troll and/or is trolling in a particular case?

On reddit there is just upvotes and downvotes. Reddit doesn't have developed social mechanisms for dealing with trolls, because the downvotes work most of the time. Developing troll technology like the concern troll and the downvote preventer to hack the hivemind/vote dynamic is the only way to succeed.

4chan doesn't have any social mechanisms either, just the culture. Communication is unnecessary for social/cultural pressure to work, interestingly. Once the countertroll/troll/troll-detector/trolled/troll-crier hierarchy is formed by the memes and mythology, the rest just works in your own mind. "fuck I got trolled, better watch out better next time", "all these people are getting trolled, but I know the OP is a troll; I'm better than them" "successful troll is successful" "I trolled the troll". Even if you don't post them and no-one reacts to them, those thoughts activate the social shame/status/etc machinery.

I think I understand concern trolling, which I understand to be giving advice which actually weakens the receiver's position, though I think the coinage "hlep" from is more widely useful

Not quite. A concern troll is someone who comes in saying "I'm a member of your group, but I'm unsure about this particular point in a highly controversial way" with the intention of starting a big useless flame-war.

Havn't heard of hlep. seems interesting.

but what's downvote preventer

The downvote preventer is when you say "I know the hivemind will downvote me for this, but..." It creates association in the readers mind between downvoting and being a hivemind drone, which people are afraid of, so they don't downvote. It's one of the techniques trolls use to protect the payload, like the way the concern troll used community membership.

I've been mulling the question of how you identify and maintain good will-- to my mind, a lot of community breakdown is caused by tendencies to amplify disagreements between people who didn't start out being all that angry at each other.

Yes. A big part of trolling is actually creating and fueling those disagreements. COINTELPRO trolling is disrupting peoples ability to identify trolls and goodwill. There is a lot of depth and difficulty to that.

Comment author: Vaniver 26 December 2011 10:37:37PM 5 points [-]

Maybe I'll beat some of it into a useful form and post it.

For one thing, the label "trolling" seems like it distracts more than it adds, just like "dark arts." AspiringKnitter's first post was loaded with influence techniques, as you point out, but it's not clear to me that pointing at influence techniques and saying "influence bad!" is valuable, especially in an introduction thread. I mean, what's the point of understanding human interaction if you use that understanding to botch your interactions?

Comment author: wedrifid 27 December 2011 07:40:18PM 4 points [-]

but it's not clear to me that pointing at influence techniques and saying "influence bad!" is valuable, especially in an introduction thread.

There is a clear benefit to pointing out when a mass of other people are falling for influence techniques in a way you consider undesirable.

Comment author: Crux 26 December 2011 02:33:43AM *  5 points [-]

Excellent analysis. I just changed my original upvote for that post to a downvote, and I must admit that it got me in exactly every way you explained.

Comment author: AspiringKnitter 27 December 2011 01:50:45AM 6 points [-]

Wow, I don't post over Christmas and look what happens. Easiest one to answer first.

  1. Wow, thanks!
  2. You're a little mean.

You don't need an explanation of 2, but let me go through your post and explain about 1.

Classic troll opening. Challenges us to take the post seriously. Our collective 'manhood' is threatened if react normally (eg saying "trolls fuck off").

Huh. I guess I could have come up with that explanation if I'd thought. The truth here is that I was just thinking "you know, they really won't like me, this is stupid, but if I make them go into this interaction with their eyes wide open about what I am, and phrase it like so, I might get people to be nice and listen".

dont want to be turned onto an immortal computer-brain-thing that acts more like Eliezer thinks it should

Insulting straw man with a side of "you are an irrational cult".

That was quite sincere and I still feel that that's a worry.

Also, I don't think I know more about friendliness than EY. I think he's very knowledgeable. I worry that he has the wrong values so his utopia would not be fun for me.

classic reddit downvote preventer:

Post a troll or other worthless opinion Imply that the hivemind wont like it Appeal to people's fear of hivemind Collect upvotes.

Wow, you're impressive. (Actually, from later posts, I know where you get this stuff from. I guess anyone could hang around 4chan long enough to know stuff like that if they had nerves of steel.) I had the intuition that this will lead to fewer downvotes (but note that I didn't lie; I did expect that it was true, from many theist-unfriendly posts on this site), but I didn't think consciously this procedure will appeal to people's fear of the hivemind to shame them into upvoting me. I want to thank you for pointing that out. Knowing how and why that intuition was correct will allow me to decide with eyes wide open whether to do something like that in the future, and if I ever actually want to troll, I'll be better at it.

And top it off with a bit of sympathetic character, damsel-in-distress crap.

Actually, I just really need to learn to remember that while I'm posting, proper procedure is not "allow internal monologue to continue as normal and transcribe it". You have no idea how much trouble that's gotten me into. (Go ahead and judge me for my self-pitying internal monologue if you want. Rereading it, I'm wondering how I failed to notice that I should just delete that part, or possibly the whole post.) On the other hand, I'd certainly hope that being honest makes me a sympathetic character. I'd like to be sympathetic, after all. ;)

This is not necessarily deliberate, but it doesn't have to be.

Thank you. It wasn't, but as you say, it doesn't have to be. I hope I'll be more mindful in the future, and bear morality in mind in crafting my posts here and elsewhere. I would never have seen these things so clearly for myself.

10/10.

Thanks, but no. LOL.

I'd upvote you, but otherwise your post is just so rude that I don't think I will.

Comment author: TheOtherDave 27 December 2011 02:25:41AM 18 points [-]

Note that declaring Crocker's rules and subsequently complaining about rudeness sends very confusing signals about how you wish to be engaged with.

Comment author: AspiringKnitter 27 December 2011 02:49:57AM 0 points [-]

Thank you. I was complaining about his use of needless profanity to refer to what I said, and a general "I'm better than you" tone (understandable, if he comes from a place where catching trolls is high status, but still rude). I not only approve of being told that I've done something wrong, I actually thanked him for it. Crocker's rules don't say "explain things in an insulting way", they say "don't soften the truths you speak to me". You can optimize for information-- and even get it across better-- when you're not trying to be rude. For instance,

And top it off with a bit of sympathetic character, damsel-in-distress crap.

That would not convey less truth if it weren't vulgar. You can easily communicate that someone is tugging people's heartstrings by presenting as a highly sympathetic damsel in distress without being vulgar.

Also, stuff like this:

Ha! well predicted I say. I just looked at the other 500 responses.

That makes it quite clear that nyan_sandwich is getting a high from this and feels high-status because of behavior like this. While that in itself is fine, the whole post does have the feel of gloating to it. I simultaneously want to upvote it for information and downvote it for lowering the overall level of civility.

Here's my attempt to clarify how I wish to be engaged with: convey whatever information you feel is true. Be as reluctant to actively insult me as you would anyone else, bearing in mind that a simple "this is incorrect" is not insulting to me, and nor is "you're being manipulative". "This is crap" always lowers the standard of debate. If you spell out what's crappy about it, your readers (including yours truly) can grasp for themselves that it's crap.

Of course, if nyan_sandwich just came from 4chan, we can congratulate him on being an infinitely better human being than everyone else he hangs out with, as well as on saying something that isn't 100% insulting, vulgar nonsense. (I'd say less than 5% insulting, vulgar nonsense.) Actually, his usual contexts considered, I may upvote him after all. I know what it takes to be more polite than you're used to others being.

Comment author: cousin_it 27 December 2011 06:35:06PM *  14 points [-]

That doesn't sound right. Here's a quote from Crocker's rules:

Anyone is allowed to call you a moron and claim to be doing you a favor.

Another quote:

Note that Crocker's Rules does not mean you can insult people; it means that other people don't have to worry about whether they are insulting you.

Quote from our wiki:

Thus, one who has committed to these rules largely gives up the right to complain about emotional provocation, flaming, abuse and other violations of etiquette

There's a decision theoretic angle here. If I declare Crocker's rules, and person X calls me a filthy anteater, then I might not care about getting valuable information from them (they probably don't have any to share) but I refrain from lashing out anyway! Because I care about the signal I send to person Y who is still deciding whether to engage with me, who might have a sensitive detector of Crocker's rules violations. And such thoughtful folks may offer the most valuable critique. I'm afraid you might have shot yourself in the foot here.

Comment author: TheOtherDave 27 December 2011 03:51:22AM *  12 points [-]

OK.
FWIW, I agree that nyan-sandwich's tone was condescending, and that they used vulgar words.
I also think "I suppose they can't be expected to behave any better, we should praise them for not being completely awful" is about as condescending as anything else that's been said in this thread.

Comment author: AspiringKnitter 27 December 2011 03:58:11AM 7 points [-]

Yeah, you're probably right. I didn't mean for that to come out that way (when I used to spend a lot of time on places with low standards, my standards were lowered, too), but that did end up insulting. I'm sorry, nyan_sandwich.

Comment author: thomblake 27 December 2011 05:03:49PM 8 points [-]

Crocker's rules don't say "explain things in an insulting way", they say "don't soften the truths you speak to me". You can optimize for information-- and even get it across better-- when you're not trying to be rude.

A lot of intelligent folks have to spend a lot of energy trying not to be rude, and part of the point of Crocker's Rules is to remove that burden by saying you won't call them on rudeness.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 27 December 2011 03:09:34AM 3 points [-]

For what it's worth, I generally see some variant of "please don't flame me" attached only to posts which I'd call inoffensive even without it. I'm not crazy about seeing "please don't flame me", but I write it off to nervousness and don't blame people for using it.

Caveat: I'm pretty sure that "please don't flame me" won't work in social justice venues.

Comment author: Jonii 26 December 2011 01:50:40AM 1 point [-]

I had missed this. The original post read as really weird and hostile, but I only read after having heard about this thread indirectly for days, mostly about the way how later she seemed pretty intelligent, so I dismissed what I saw and substituted what I ought to have seen. Thanks for pointing this out.

Upvoted

Comment author: [deleted] 20 December 2011 03:38:07AM 8 points [-]

Hello. I expect you won't like me because I'm Christian and female and don't want to be turned into an immortal computer-brain-thing that acts more like Eliezer thinks it should.

I don't think you'll be actively hated here by most posters (and even then, flamewars and trolling here are probably not what you'd expect from most other internet spaces)

it'll raise the probability that you start worshiping the possibility of becoming immortal polyamorous whatever and taking over the world.

I wouldn't read polyamory as a primary shared feature of the posters here -- and this is speaking as someone who's been poly her entire adult life. Compared to most mainstream spaces, it does come up a whole lot more, and people are generally unafraid of at least discussing the ins and outs of it.

(I find it hard to imagine how you could manage real immortality in a universe with a finite lifespan, but that's neither here nor there.)

You guys really hate Christians, after all. (Am I actually allowed to be here or am I banned for my religion?)

You have to do a lot weirder or more malicious than that to get banned here. I frequently argue inarticulately for things that are rather unpopular here, and I've never once gotten the sense that I would be banned. I can think of a few things that I could do that would get me banned, but I had to go looking.

You won't be banned, but you will probably be challenged a lot if you bring your religious beliefs into discussions because most of the people here have good reasons to reject them. Many of them will be happy to share those with you, at length, should you ask.

I probably shouldn't bother talking to people who only want me to hate God.

The people here mostly don't think the God you believe in is a real being that exists, and have no interest in making you hate your deity. For us it would be like making someone hate Winnie the Pooh -- not the show or the books, but the person. We don't think there's anything there to be hated.

Why am I even here again? Seriously, why am I not just lurking? That would make more sense.

I'm going to guess it's because you're curious, and you've identified LW as a place where people who claim to want to do some pretty big, even profound things to change the world hang out (as well as people interested in a lot of intellectual topics and skills), and on some level that appeals to you?

And I'd further guess you feel like the skew of this community's population makes you nervous that some of them are talking about changing the world in ways that would affect everybody whether or not they'd prefer to see that change if asked straight up?

Comment author: EvelynM 26 December 2011 10:45:55AM 7 points [-]

What do you aspire to knit?

Comment author: AspiringKnitter 27 December 2011 01:54:57AM 5 points [-]

Sweaters, hats, scarves, headbands, purses, everything knittable. (Okay, I was wrong below, that was actually the second-easiest post to answer.) Do you like knitting too?

Comment author: wedrifid 19 December 2011 09:49:20AM 6 points [-]

You guys really hate Christians, after all.

The ten people I care about most in the world all happen to be Christians - devout, sincere Christians at that.

Comment author: Mitchell_Porter 24 December 2011 03:00:31AM 3 points [-]

I'll bet US$1000 that this is Will_Newsome.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 26 December 2011 09:50:51PM 7 points [-]

Why did you frame it that way, rather than that AspiringKnitter wasn't a Christian, or was someone with a long history of trolling, or somesuch? It's much less likely to get a particular identity right than to establish that a poster is lying about who they are.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 26 December 2011 08:30:02AM 4 points [-]

Unfortunately, I don't have the spare money to take the other side of the bet, but Will showed a tendency to head off into foggy abstractions which I haven't seen in Aspiring Knitter.

Comment author: gwern 24 December 2011 03:04:30AM 7 points [-]

That's remarkably confident. This doesn't really read like Newsome to me (and how would one find out with sufficient certainty to decide a bet for that much?).

Comment author: wedrifid 26 December 2011 11:38:07AM *  6 points [-]

That's remarkably confident.

Just how confident is it? It's a large figure and colloquially people tend to confuse size of bet with degree of confidence - saying a bigger number is more of a dramatic social move. But ultimately to make a bet at even odds all Mitchell needs is to be confident that if someone takes him up on the bet then he has 50% or more chance of being correct. The size of the bet only matters indirectly as an incentive for others to do more research before betting.

Mitchell's actual confidence is some unspecified figure between 0.5 and 1 and is heavily influenced by how overconfident he expects others to be.

Comment author: Maelin 30 December 2011 09:11:19AM *  3 points [-]

But ultimately to make a bet at even odds all Mitchell needs is to be confident that if someone takes him up on the bet then he has 50% or more chance of being correct. The size of the bet only matters indirectly as an incentive for others to do more research before betting.

This would only be true if money had linear utility value [1]. I, for example, would not take a $1000 bet at even odds even if I had 75% confidence of winning, because with my present financial status I just can't afford to lose $1000. But I would take such a bet of $100.

The utility of winning $1000 is not the negative of the utility of losing $1000.

[1] or, to be precise, if it were approximately linear in the range of current net assets +/- $1000

Comment author: gwern 26 December 2011 04:18:56PM 1 point [-]

Risk aversion and other considerations like gambler's ruin usually mean that people insist on substantial edges over just >50%. This can be ameliorated by wealth, but as far as I know, Porter is at best middle-class and not, say, a millionaire.

So your points are true and irrelevant.

Comment author: wedrifid 26 December 2011 04:20:12PM 1 point [-]

So your points are true and irrelevant.

We obviously use the term 'irrelevant' to mean different things.

Comment author: AspiringKnitter 24 December 2011 03:32:35AM 3 points [-]

And what do I have to do to win your bet, given that I'm not him (and hadn't even heard of him before)? After all, even if you saw me in person, you could claim I was paid off by this guy to pretend to be AspiringKnitter. Or shall I just raise my right hand?

I don't see why this guy wouldn't offer such a bet, knowing he can always claim I'm lying if I try to provide proof. No downside, so it doesn't matter how unlikely it is, he could accuse any given person of sockpuppeting. The expected return can't be negative. That said, the odds here being worse than one in a million, I don't know why he went to all that trouble for an expected return of less than a cent. There being no way I can prove who I am, I don't know why I went to all the trouble of saying this, either, though, so maybe we're all just a little irrational.

Comment author: Mitchell_Porter 24 December 2011 09:48:56AM 3 points [-]

And what do I have to do to win your bet

Let's first confirm that you're willing to pay up, if you are who I say you are. I will certainly pay up if I'm wrong...

Comment author: AspiringKnitter 24 December 2011 09:55:33AM 3 points [-]

Let's first confirm that you're willing to pay up, if you are who I say you are.

That's problematic since if I were Newsome, I wouldn't agree. Hence, if AspiringKnitter is Will_Newsome, then AspiringKnitter won't even agree to pay up.

Not actually being Will_Newsome, I'm having trouble considering what I would do in the case where I turned out to be him. But if I took your bet, I'd agree to it. I can't see how such a bet could possibly get me anything, though, since I can't see how I'd prove that I'm not him even though I'm really not him.

Comment author: Mitchell_Porter 24 December 2011 10:10:08AM 3 points [-]

if I took your bet, I'd agree to it.

All right, how about this. If I presented evidence already in the public domain which made it extremely obvious that you are Will Newsome, would you pay up?

By the way, when I announced my belief about who you are, I didn't have personal profit in mind. I was just expressing confidence in my reasoning.

Comment author: AspiringKnitter 24 December 2011 10:25:10AM 2 points [-]

All right, how about this. If I presented evidence already in the public domain which made it extremely obvious that you are Will Newsome, would you pay up?

There is no such evidence. What do you have in mind that would prove that?

Comment author: Mitchell_Porter 24 December 2011 10:47:03AM 7 points [-]

You write stream-of-consciousness run-on sentences which exhibit abnormal disclosure of self while still actually making sense (if one can be bothered parsing them). Not only do you share this trait with Will, the themes and the phrasing are the same. You have a deep familiarity with LessWrong concerns and modes of thought, yet you also advocate Christian metaphysics and monogamy. Again, that's Will.

That's not yet "extremely obvious", but it should certainly raise suspicions. I expect that a very strong case could be made by detailed textual comparison.

Comment author: Kaj_Sotala 25 December 2011 08:09:49PM 21 points [-]

AspiringKnitter's arguments for Christianity are quite different from Will's, though.

(Also, at the risk of sounding harsh towards Will, she's been considerably more coherent.)

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 26 December 2011 10:18:55AM 15 points [-]

I think if Will knew how to write this non-abstractly, he would have a valuable skill he does not presently possess, and he would use that skill more often.

Comment author: paper-machine 25 December 2011 08:11:21PM 8 points [-]

Wow, is that all of your information? You either have a lot of money to blow, or you're holding back.

Comment author: [deleted] 26 December 2011 01:06:05AM 3 points [-]

“Deep familiarity with LessWrong concerns and modes of thought” can be explained by her having lurked a lot, and the rest of those features are not rare IME (even though they are under-represented on LW).

Comment author: Mitchell_Porter 29 December 2011 05:14:07AM 4 points [-]

I said

I'll bet US$1000 that this is Will_Newsome.

I think it's time to close out this somewhat underspecified offer of a bet. So far, AspiringKnitter and Eliezer expressed interest but only if a method of resolving the bet could be determined, Alicorn offered to play a role in resolving the bet in return for a share of the winnings, and dlthomas offered up $15.

I will leave the possibility of joining the bet open for another 24 hours, starting from the moment this comment is posted. I won't look at the site during that time. Then I'll return, see who (if anyone) still wants a piece of the action, and will also attempt to resolve any remaining conflicts about who gets to participate and on what terms. You are allowed to say "I want to join the bet, but this is conditional upon resolving such-and-such issue of procedure, arbitration, etc." Those details can be sorted out later. This is just the last chance to shortlist yourself as a potential bettor.

I'll be back in 24 hours.

Comment author: Mitchell_Porter 30 December 2011 05:30:20AM 12 points [-]

And the winners are... dlthomas, who gets $15, and ITakeBets, who gets $100, for being bold enough to bet unconditionally. I accept their bets, I formally concede them, aaaand we're done.

Comment author: wedrifid 30 December 2011 06:43:43AM 7 points [-]

You know I followed your talk about betting but never once considered that I could win money for realz if I took you up on it. The difficulty of proving such things made the subject seem just abstract. Oops.

Comment author: Solvent 30 December 2011 06:52:21AM 2 points [-]

And thus concludes the funniest thread on LessWrong in a very long time. Thanks, folks.

Comment author: Steve_Rayhawk 30 December 2011 05:12:30AM 2 points [-]

I'll stake $500 if eligible.

When would the answer need to be known by?

Comment author: ITakeBets 29 December 2011 05:25:36AM *  2 points [-]

I am interested.

Edit: Putting up $100, regardless of anyone else's participation, and I'm prepared to demonstrate that I'm not Will_Newsome if that is somehow necessary.

Comment author: shokwave 24 December 2011 03:11:12AM 2 points [-]

I'll bet US$10 you have significant outside information.

Comment author: AspiringKnitter 24 December 2011 07:35:19AM 4 points [-]

He doesn't.

Comment author: shokwave 24 December 2011 07:57:08AM 3 points [-]

See, I'd like to believe you, but a thousand dollars is a lot of money.

Comment author: AspiringKnitter 24 December 2011 07:58:52AM *  4 points [-]

Take him up on his bet, then.

(Not that I have any intention of showing up anywhere just to show you who I am and am not. Unless you're going to pay ME that $1000.)

Comment author: shokwave 24 December 2011 08:34:07AM 3 points [-]

What about if I bet you $500 that you're not WillNewsome? That way you can prove your separate existence to me, get paid, and I can use the proof you give me to take a thousand from MitchellPorter. In fact, I'll go as high as 700 dollars if you agree to prove yourself to me and MitchellPorter.

Of course, this offer is isomorphic to you taking Mitchell's bet and sending 300-500 dollars to me for no reason, and you're not taking his bet currently, so I don't expect you to be convinced by this offering either.

Comment author: AspiringKnitter 24 December 2011 09:25:04AM 7 points [-]

What possible proof could I offer you? I can't take you up on the bet because, while I'm not Newsome, I can't think of anything I could do that he couldn't fake if this were a sockpuppet account. If we met in person, I could be the very same person as Newsome anyway; he could really secretly be a she. Or the person you meet could be paid by Newsome to pretend to be AspiringKnitter.

Comment author: shokwave 24 December 2011 12:35:28PM 5 points [-]

Well, I don't know what proof you could offer me; but if we genuinely put 500 dollars either way on the line, I am certain we'd rapidly agree on a standard of proof that satisfied us both.

Comment author: Alicorn 24 December 2011 03:54:40PM 4 points [-]

he could really secretly be a she

Nope, plenty of people onsite have met Will. I mean, I suppose it is not strictly impossible, but I would be surprised if he were able to present that convincingly as a dude and then later present as convincingly as a girl. Bonus points if you have long hair.

Comment author: TheOtherDave 24 December 2011 03:29:01PM *  4 points [-]

Excellent question. One way to deal with it is for all the relevant agents to agree on a bet that's actually specified... that is, instead of betting that "AspiringKnitter is/isn't the same person as WillNewsome," bet that "two verifiably different people will present themselves to a trusted third party identifying as WillNewsome and AspiringKnitter" and agree on a mechanism of verifying their difference (e.g., Skype).

You're of course right that these are two different questions, and the latter doesn't prove the former, but if y'all agree to bet on the latter then the former becomes irrelevant. It would be silly of anyone to agree to the latter if their goal was to establish the former, but my guess is that isn't actually the goal of anyone involved.

Just in case this matters, I don't actually care. For all I know, you and shokwave are the same person; it really doesn't affect my life in any way. This is the Internet, if I'm not willing to take people's personas at face value, then I do best not to engage with them at all.

Comment author: Will_Newsome 27 December 2011 10:46:23AM 2 points [-]

As far as we know.

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 26 December 2011 10:17:43AM 4 points [-]

That's really odd. If there were some way to settle the bet I'd take it.

Comment author: steven0461 26 December 2011 11:31:24PM *  7 points [-]

For what it's worth, I thought Mitchell's hypothesis seemed crazy at first, then looked through user:AspiringKnitter's comment history and read a number of things that made me update substantially toward it. (Though I found nothing that made it "extremely obvious", and it's hard to weigh this sort of evidence against low priors.)

Comment author: Mitchell_Porter 26 December 2011 11:01:21AM 7 points [-]

It used to be possible - perhaps it still is? - to make donations to SIAI targeted towards particular proposed research projects. If you are interested in taking up this bet, we should do a side deal whereby, if I win, your $1000 would go to me via SIAI in support of some project that is of mutual interest.

Comment author: shminux 26 December 2011 02:42:22AM 3 points [-]

Here is an experiment that could solve this.

If someone takes the bet and some of the proceeds go to trike, they might agree to check the logs and compare IPs (a matching IP or even a proxy as a detection avoidance attempt could be interpreted as AK=WN). Of course, AK would have to consent.

Comment author: GabrielDuquette 26 December 2011 02:57:03AM *  2 points [-]

I can't believe I'm getting involved in this, but...

Will could know someone in AK's supposed location who is posting for him (from emails). Is Mitchell_Porter willing to donate $1000 to airfare for either AK or an impartial third party to converse with AK in person about similar-level subject matter? Even this wouldn't be airtight.

Comment author: katydee 26 December 2011 01:34:30AM 4 points [-]

Wow. Now that you mention it, perhaps someone should ask AspiringKnitter what she thinks of dubstep...

Comment author: katydee 26 December 2011 02:26:04AM 3 points [-]

Holy crap. I've never had a comment downvoted this fast, and I thought this was a pretty funny joke to boot. My mental estimate was that the original comment would end up resting at around +4 or +5. Where did I err?

Comment author: wedrifid 26 December 2011 11:30:12AM 6 points [-]

I left it alone because I have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. Dubstep? Will likes, dislikes and/or does something involving dubstep? (Google tells me it is a kind of dance music.)

Comment author: katydee 26 December 2011 06:56:46PM *  7 points [-]
Comment author: Will_Newsome 27 December 2011 11:09:07AM 7 points [-]

(Er, well, math intuitions in a few specific fields, and only one or two rather specific dubstep videos. I'm not, ya know, actually crazy. The important thing is that that video is, as the kids would offensively say, "sicker than Hitler's kill/death ratio".) newayz I upvoted your original comment.

Comment author: thomblake 27 December 2011 05:17:27PM 7 points [-]

sicker than Hitler's kill/death ratio

Do we count assists now?

Comment author: TheOtherDave 27 December 2011 05:29:44PM 2 points [-]

And if so, who gets the credit for deaths by old age?

Comment author: katydee 27 December 2011 11:01:16PM 2 points [-]

Post edited to reflect this, apologies for misrepresenting you.

Comment author: paper-machine 24 December 2011 03:03:28AM *  2 points [-]

You're clearly out of touch with the populace. :) I'm only willing to risk 10% of my probability mass on your prediction.

Comment author: paper-machine 19 December 2011 07:54:39AM 1 point [-]

Welcome!

I'm Christian and female and don't want to be turned into an immortal computer-brain-thing that acts more like Eliezer thinks it should.

Only one of those is really a reason for me to be nervous, and that's because Christianity has done some pretty shitty things to my people. But that doesn't mean we have nothing in common! I don't want to act the way EY thinks I should, either. (At least, not merely because it's him that wants it.)

You guys really hate Christians, after all. (Am I actually allowed to be here or am I banned for my religion?)

If you look at the survey, notice you're not alone. A minority, perhaps, but not entirely alone. I hope you hang around.

Comment author: AspiringKnitter 19 December 2011 08:39:53AM 10 points [-]

Wow, thanks! I feel less nervous/unwelcome already!

Let me just apologize on behalf of all of us for whichever of the stains on our honor you're referring to. It wasn't right. (Which one am I saying wasn't right?)

Yay for not acting like EY wants, I guess. No offense or anything, EY, but you've proposed modifications you want to make to people that I don't want made to me already...

(I don't know what I said to deserve an upvote... uh, thanks.)

Comment author: Icehawk78 19 December 2011 01:30:52PM 9 points [-]

I'm curious which modifications EY has proposed (specifically) that you don't want made, unless it's just generically the suggestion that people could be improved in any ways whatsoever and your preference is to not have any modifications made to yourself (in a "be true to yourself" manner, perhaps?) that you didn't "choose".

If you could be convinced that a given change to "who you are" would necessarily be an improvement (by your own standards, not externally imposed standards, since you sound very averse to such restrictions) such as "being able to think faster" or "having taste preferences for foods which are most healthy for you" (to use very primitive off-the-cuff examples), and then given the means to effect these changes on yourself, would you choose to do so, or would you be averse simply on the grounds of "then I wouldn't be 'me' anymore" or something similar?

Comment author: AspiringKnitter 19 December 2011 07:09:06PM 5 points [-]

Being able to think faster is something I try for already, with the means available to me. (Nutrition, sleep, mental exercise, I've even recently started trying to get physical exercise.) I actually already prefer healthy food (it was a really SIMPLE hack: cut out junk food, or phase it out gradually if you can't take the plunge all at once, and wait until your taste buds (probably actually some brain center) start reacting like they would have in the ancestral environment, which is actually by craving healthy food), so the only further modification to be done is to my environment (availability of the right kinds of stuff). So obviously, those in particular I do want.

However, I also believe that here lies the road to ableism. EY has already espoused a significant amount. For instance, his post about how unfair IQ is misses out on the great contributions made to the world by people with very low IQs. There's someone with an IQ of, I think she said, 86 or so, who is wiser than I am (let's just say I probably rival EY for IQ score). IQ is valid only for a small part of the population and full-scale IQ is almost worthless except for letting some people feel superior to others. I've spent a lot of time thinking about and exposed to people's writings about disability and how there are abled people who seek to cure people who weren't actually suffering and appreciated their uniqueness. Understanding and respect for the diversity of skills in the world is more important than making everyone exactly like anyone else.

The above said, that doesn't mean I'm opposed in principle to eliminating problems with disability (nor is almost anyone who speaks out against forced "cure"). Just to think of examples, I'm glad I'm better at interacting with people than I used to be and wish to be better at math (but NOT at the expense of my other abilities). Others, with other disabilities, have espoused wishes for other things (two people that I can think of want an end to their chronic pain without feeling that other aspects of their issues are bad things or need fixed). I worry about EY taking over the world with his robots and not remembering the work of Erving Goffman and a guy whose book is someplace where I can't glance at the spine to see his name. He may fall into any number of potential traps. He could impose modification on those he deems not intelligent enough to understand, even though they are (one person who strongly shaped my views on this topic has made a video about it called In My Language). I also worry that he could create nursing homes without fully understanding institutionalization and learned helplessness and why it costs less in the community anyway. And once he's made it a ways down that road, he might be better than most at admitting mistakes, but it's hard to acknowledge that you've caused that much suffering. (We see it all the time in parents who don't want to admit what harm they've caused disabled children by misunderstanding.) And by looking only at the optimal typical person, he may miss out on the unique gifts of other configurations. (I am not in principle opposed to people having all the strengths and none of the weaknesses of multiple types. I'm becoming a bit like that in some areas on a smaller scale, but not fully, and I don't think that in practice it will work for most people or work fully.)

Regarding what EY has proposed that I don't want, on the catperson post (in a comment), EY suggested that we would have some sort of compromise where we lowered male sex drive a little and increased female sex drive a little, which doesn't appeal to me at all. (Sorry, but I don't WANT to want more sex. You probably won't agree with this argument, but Jesus advocated celibacy for large swaths of the population, and should I be part of one of those, I'd rather it not be any harder. Should I NOT be in one of those swaths, it's still important that I not be too distracted satisfying those desires, since I'll have far more important things to do with my life.) But in a cooperative endeavor like that, who's going to listen to me explaining I don't want to change in the way that would most benefit them?

And that's what I can think of off the top of my head.

Comment author: Kaj_Sotala 19 December 2011 08:24:47PM *  16 points [-]

Welcome!

IQ is valid only for a small part of the population and full-scale IQ is almost worthless

This directly contradicts the mainstream research on IQ: see for instance this or this. If you have cites to the contrary, I'd be curious to read them.

That said, glad to see someone else who's found In My Language - I ran across it many years ago and thought it beautiful and touching.

Comment author: AspiringKnitter 19 December 2011 11:00:10PM 8 points [-]

Yes, you're right. That was a blatant example of availability bias-- the tiny subset of the population for which IQ is not valid makes up a disproportionately large part of my circle. And I consider full-scale IQ worthless for people with large IQ gaps, such as people with learning disabilities, and I don't think it conveys any new information over and above subtest scores in other people. Thank you for reminding me again how very odd I and my friends are.

But I also refer here to understanding, for instance, morality or ways to hack life, and having learned one of the most valuable lessons I ever learned from someone I'm pretty sure is retarded (not Amanda Baggs; it's a young man I know), I know for a fact that some important things aren't always proportional to IQ. In fact, specifically, I want to say I learned to be better by emulating him, and not just from the interaction, lest you assume it's something I figured out that he didn't already know.

I don't have any studies to cite; just personal experience with some very abnormal people. (Including myself, I want to point out. I think I'm one of those people for whom IQ subtests are useful-- in specific, limited ways-- but for whom full-scale IQ means nothing because of the great variance between subtest scores.)

Comment author: juliawise 21 December 2011 10:25:54PM 4 points [-]

glad to see someone else who's found In My Language

Her points on disability may still be valid, but it looks like the whole Amanda Baggs autism thing was a media stunt. At age 14, she was a fluent speaker with an active social life.

Comment author: MixedNuts 19 December 2011 07:50:43PM 16 points [-]

By the middle of the second paragraph I was thinking "Whoa, is everyone an Amanda Baggs fan around here?". Hole in one! I win so many Bayes-points, go me.

I and a bunch of LWers I've talked to about it basically already agree with you on ableism, and a large fraction seems to apply usual liberal instincts to the issue (so, no forced cures for people who can point to "No thanks" on a picture board). There are extremely interesting and pretty fireworks that go off when you look at the social model disability from a transhumanist perspective and I want to round up Alicorn and Anne Corwin and you and a bunch of other people to look at them closely. It doesn't look like curing everyone (you don't want a perfectly optimized life, you want a world with variety, you want change over time), and it doesn't look like current (dis)abilities (what does "blind" mean if most people can see radio waves?), and it doesn't look like current models of disability (if everyone is super different and the world is set up for that and everything is cheap there's no such thing as accommodations), and it doesn't look like the current structures around disability (if society and personal identity and memory look nothing like they started with "culture" doesn't mean the same thing and that applies to Deaf culture) and it's complicated and pretty and probably already in some Egan novel.

But, to address your central point directly: You are completely and utterly mistaken about what Eliezer Yudkowsky wants to do. He's certainly not going to tell a superintelligence anything as direct and complicated as "Make this person smarter", or even "Give me a banana". Seriously, nursing homes?

If tech had happened to be easier, we might have gotten a superintelligence in the 16th century in Europe. Surely we wouldn't have told it to care about the welfare of black people. We need to build something that would have done the right thing even if we had built it in the 16th century. The very rough outline for that is to tell it "Here are some people. Figure out what they would want if they knew better, and do that.". So in the 16th century, it would have been presented with abled white men; figured out that if they were better informed and smarter and less biased and so on, these men would like to be equal to black women; and thus included black women in its next turn of figuring out what people want. Something as robust as this needs to be can't miss an issue that's currently known to exist and be worthy of debate!

And for the celibacy thing: that's a bit besides the point, but obviously if you want to avoid sex for reasons other than low libido, increasing your libido obviously won't fix the mismatch.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 19 December 2011 08:56:22PM 3 points [-]

How do you identify what knowing better would mean, when you don't know better yet?

Comment author: MixedNuts 19 December 2011 09:17:39PM 7 points [-]

The same way we do, but faster? Like, if you start out thinking that scandalous-and-gross-sex-practice is bad, you can consider arguments like "disgust is easily culturally trained so it's a poor measure of morality", and talk to people so you form an idea of what it's like to want and do it as a subjective experience (what positive emotions are involved, for example), and do research so you can answer queries like "If we had a brain scanner that could detect brainwashing manipulation, what would it say about people who want that?".

So the superintelligence builds a model of you and feeds it lots of arguments and memory tape from others and other kinds of information. And then we run into trouble because maybe you end up wanting different things depending on the order it feeds you it, or it tells you to many facts about Deep Ones and it breaks your brain.

Comment author: TheOtherDave 19 December 2011 07:51:02PM 13 points [-]

But in a cooperative endeavor like that, who's going to listen to me explaining I don't want to change in the way that would most benefit them?

Those of us who endorse respecting individual choices when we can afford to, because we prefer that our individual choices be respected when we can afford it.

I am not in principle opposed to people having all the strengths and none of the weaknesses of multiple types [..] I don't think that in practice it will work for most people

If you think it will work for some people, but not most, are you in principle opposed to giving whatever-it-is-that-distinguishes-the-people-it-works-for for to anyone who wants it?

More broadly: I mostly consider all of this "what would EY do" stuff a distraction; the question that interests me is what I ought to want done and why I ought to want it done, not who or what does it. If large-scale celibacy is a good idea, I want to understand why it's a good idea. Being told that some authority figure (any authority figure) advocated it doesn't achieve that. Similarly, if it's a bad idea, I want to understand why it's a bad idea.

Comment author: AspiringKnitter 19 December 2011 10:23:00PM 6 points [-]

If you think it will work for some people, but not most, are you in principle opposed to giving whatever-it-is-that-distinguishes-the-people-it-works-for for to anyone who wants it?

Whatever-it-is-that-distinguishes-the-people-it-works-for seems to be inherent in the skills in question (that is, the configuration that brings about a certain ability also necessarily brings about a weakness in another area), so I don't think that's possible. If it were, I can only imagine it taking the form of people being able to shift configuration very rapidly into whatever works best for the situation, and in some cases, I find that very implausible. If I'm wrong, sure, why not? If it's possible, it's only the logical extension of teaching people to use their strengths and shore up their weaknesses. This being an inherent impossibility (or so I think; I could be wrong), it doesn't so much matter whether I'm opposed to it or not, but yeah, it's fine with me.

You make a good point, but I expect that assuming that someone makes AI and uses it to rule the world with the power to modify people, it will be Eliezer Yudkowsky, so whether he would abuse that power is more important than whether my next-door neighbors would if they could or even what I would do, and so what EY wants is at least worth considering, because the failure mode if he does something bad is way too catastrophic.

Comment author: TheOtherDave 19 December 2011 10:48:01PM 3 points [-]

[if] someone makes AI and uses it to rule the world with the power to modify people, it will be Eliezer Yudkowsky

What makes you think that?

For example, do you think he's the only person working on building AI powerful enough to change the world?
Or that, of the people working on it, he's the only one competent enough to succeed?
Or that, of the people who can succeed, he's the only one who would "use" the resulting AI to rule the world and modify people?
Or something else?

Comment author: AspiringKnitter 19 December 2011 11:05:59PM 9 points [-]

He's the only person I know of who wants to build an AI that will take over the world and do what he wants. He's also smart enough to have a chance, which is disturbing.

Comment author: dlthomas 19 December 2011 11:14:51PM *  13 points [-]

Have you read his paper on CEV? To the best of my knowledge, that's the clearest place he's laid out what he wants an AGI to do, and I wouldn't really label it "take over the world and do what [Eliezer Yudkowsky] wants" except for broad use of those terms to the point of dropping their typical connotations.

Comment author: Bugmaster 20 December 2011 12:32:07AM 4 points [-]

I can virtually guarantee you that he's not the only one who wants to build such an AI. Google, IBM, and the heads of major three-letter government agencies all come to mind as the kind of players who would want to implement their own pet genie, and are actively working toward that goal. That said, it's possible that EY is the only one who has a chance of success... I personally wouldn't give him, or any other human, that much credit, but I do acknowledge the possibility.

Comment author: FlatulentBayes 21 December 2011 08:36:51PM 10 points [-]

Don't worry. We are in good hands. Eliezer understands the dillemas involved and will ensure that we can avoid non-friendly AI. The SI are dedicated to Friendly AI and the completion of their goal.

Comment author: GabrielDuquette 19 December 2011 08:13:18PM 3 points [-]

I'd never heard of Amanda Baggs. Thanks, her blog is now bookmarked.

If your curiosity about non-neurotypicality is fully general, you might also find this interesting.

Comment author: Emile 20 December 2011 12:07:39AM 5 points [-]

Regarding what EY has proposed that I don't want, on the catperson post (in a comment), EY suggested that we would have some sort of compromise where we lowered male sex drive a little and increased female sex drive a little, which doesn't appeal to me at all. (Sorry, but I don't WANT to want more sex.

Look at it this way - would you agree to trade getting a slightly higher sex drive, in exchange for living in a world where rape, divorce, and unwanted long-term celibacy ("forever alone") are each an order of magnitude rarer than they are in our world?

(That is assuming that such a change in sex drive would have those results, which is far from certain.)

Comment author: Alicorn 20 December 2011 01:31:53AM 7 points [-]

This is an unfair question. If we do the Singularity right, nobody has to accept unwanted brain modifications in order to solve general societal problems. Either we can make the brain modifications appealing via non-invasive education or other gentle means, or we can skip them for people who opt out/don't opt in. Not futzing with people's minds against their wills is a pretty big deal! I would be with Aspiring Knitter in opposing a population-wide forcible nudge to sex drive even if I bought the exceptionally dubious proposition that such a drastic measure would be called for to fix the problems you list.

Comment author: Emile 20 December 2011 09:23:48AM *  3 points [-]

I didn't mean to imply forcing unwanted modifications on everybody "for their own good" - I was talking about under what conditions we might accept things we don't like (I don't think this is a very plausible singularity scenario, except as a general "how weird things could get").

I don't like limitations on my ability to let my sheep graze, but I may accept them if everyone does so and it reduces overgrazing. I may not like limits on my ability to own guns, but I may accept them if it means living in a safer society. I may not like modifications to my sex drive, but I may be willing to agree in exchange for living in a better society.

In principle, we could find ways of making everybody better off. Of course, the details of how such an agreement is reached matter a lot - markets, democracy, competition between countries, a machine-God enforcing it's will.

Comment author: AspiringKnitter 20 December 2011 01:23:14AM 0 points [-]

Since when is rape motivated primarily by not getting laid? (Or divorce, for that matter?)

But never mind. We have different terminal values here. You-- I assume-- seek a lot of partners for everyone, right? At least, others here seem to be non-monogamous. You won't agree with me, but I believe in lifelong monogamy or celibacy, so while increasing someone's libido could be useful in your value system, it almost never would in mine. Further, it would serve no purpose for me to have a greater sex drive because I would respond by trying to stifle it, in accordance with my principles. I hope you at least derive disutility from making someone uncomfortable.

Seriously, the more I hear on LessWrong, the more I anticipate having to live in a savage reservation a la Brave New World. But pointing this out to you doesn't change your mind because you value having most people be willing to engage in casual sex (am I wrong here? I don't know you, specifically).

Comment author: Bugmaster 20 December 2011 02:36:32AM 14 points [-]

But pointing this out to you doesn't change your mind because you value having most people be willing to engage in casual sex (am I wrong here? I don't know you, specifically)

I can't speak for Emile, but my own views look something like this:

  • I see nothing wrong with casual sex (as long as all partners fully consent, of course), or any other kind of sex in general (again, assuming fully informed consent).
  • Some studies (*) have shown that humans are generally pretty poor at monogamy.
  • People whose sex drives are unsatisfied often become unhappy.
  • In light of this, forcing monogamy on people is needlessly oppressive, and leads to unnecessary suffering.
  • Therefore, we should strive toward building a society where monogamy is not forced upon people, and where people's sex drives are generally satisfied.

Thus, I would say that I value "most people being able to engage in casual sex". I make no judgement, however, whether "most people should be willing to engage in casual sex". If you value monogamy, then you should be able to engage in monogamous sex, and I can see no reason why anyone could say that your desires are wrong.

(*) As well as many of our most prominent politicians. Heh.

Comment author: AspiringKnitter 20 December 2011 03:35:53AM *  7 points [-]

I'm glad I actually asked, then, since I've learned something from your position, which is more sensible than I assumed. Upvoted because it's so clearly laid out even though I don't agree.

Comment author: Bugmaster 20 December 2011 03:46:39AM 2 points [-]

Thanks, I appreciate it. I am still interested in hearing why you don't agree, but I understand that this can be a sensitive topic...

Comment author: cousin_it 10 January 2012 12:38:37AM *  4 points [-]

Hmm, that doesn't sound right. I don't want to make celibate people uncomfortable, I just want to have more casual sex myself. Also I have a weaker altruistic wish that people who aren't "getting any" could "get some" without having to tweak their looks (the beauty industry) or their personality (the pickup scene). There could be many ways to make lots of unhappy people happier about sex and romance without tweaking your libido. Tweaking libido sounds a little pointless to me anyway, because PUA dogma (which I mostly agree with) predicts that people will just spend the surplus libido on attractive partners and leave unattractive ones in the dust, like they do today.

Comment author: Kaj_Sotala 20 December 2011 07:42:23AM 4 points [-]

At least, others here seem to be non-monogamous.

Well, some are. From the last survey:

625 people (57.3%) described themselves as monogamous, 145 (13.3%) as polyamorous, and 298 (27.3%) didn't really know. These numbers were similar between men and women.

Comment author: Emile 20 December 2011 09:43:54AM 3 points [-]

But never mind. We have different terminal values here. You-- I assume-- seek a lot of partners for everyone, right?

Nope! I don't have any certainty about what is best for society / mankind in the long run, but personally, I'm fine with monogamy, I'm married, have a kid, and don't think "more casual sex" is necessarily a good thing.

I can, however, agree with Eliezer when he says it might be better if human sex drives were better adjusted - not because I value seeing more people screwing around like monkeys, but because it seems that the way things are now results in a great deal of frustration and unhappiness.

I don't know about rape, but I expect that more sex drive for women and less for men would result in less divorces, because differences in sex drive are a frequent source of friction, as is infidelity (though it's not clear that different sex drives would result in less infidelity). That's not to say that hacking people's brains is the only solution, or the best one.

Comment author: JoachimSchipper 20 December 2011 09:56:08AM *  6 points [-]

More sex does not have to mean more casual sex. There are lots of people in committed relationships (marriages) that would like to have more-similar sex drives. Nuns wouldn't want their libido increased, but it's not only for the benefit of the "playahs" either.

Also, I think the highest-voted comment ("I don't think that any relationship style is the best (...) However, I do wish that people were more aware of the possibility of polyamory (...)") is closer to the consensus than something like "everyone should have as many partners as much as possible". LW does assume that polyamory and casual sex is optional-but-ok, though.

Comment author: juliawise 21 December 2011 10:14:04PM 2 points [-]

I'm a married, monogamous person who would love to be able to adjust my sex drive to match my spouse's (and I think we would both choose to adjust up).

The Twilight books do an interesting riff of the themes of eternal life, monogamy, and extremely high sex drives.

Comment author: [deleted] 20 December 2011 04:30:30AM 4 points [-]

EY suggested that we would have some sort of compromise where we lowered male sex drive a little and increased female sex drive a little, which doesn't appeal to me at all.

Yeah, this is Eliezer inferring too much from the most-accessible information about sex drive from members of his tribe, so to speak -- it's not so very long ago in the West that female sex drive was perceived as insatiable and vast, with women being nearly impossible for any one man to please in bed; there are still plenty of cultures where that's the case. But he's heard an awful lot of stories couched in evolutionary language about why a cultural norm in his society that is broadcast all over the place in media and entertainment reflects the evolutionary history of humanity.

He's confused about human nature. If Eliezer builds a properly-rational AI by his own definitions to resolve the difficulty, and it met all his other stated criteria for FAI, it would tell him he'd gotten confused.

Comment author: Kaj_Sotala 20 December 2011 07:26:39AM *  2 points [-]

Well, there do seem to be several studies, including at least one cross-cultural study, that support the "the average female sex drive is lower" theory.

Comment author: [deleted] 20 December 2011 08:00:14AM 1 point [-]

These studies also rely on self-reported sexual feelings and behavior, as reported by the subset of the population willing to volunteer for such a study and answer questions such as "How often do you masturbate?", and right away you've got interference from "signalling what you think sounds right", "signalling what you're willing to admit," "signalling what makes you look impressive", and "signalling what makes you seem good and not deviant by the standards of your culture." It is notoriously difficult to generalize such studies -- they best serve as descriptive accounts, not causal ones.

Many of the relevant factors are also difficult to pin down; testosterone clearly has an affect, but it's a physiological correlate that doesn't suffice to explain the patterns seen (which again, are themselves to be taken with a grain of salt, and not signalling anything causal). . The jump to a speculative account of evolutionary sexual strategies is even less warranted. For a good breakdown, see here: http://www.csun.edu/~vcpsy00h/students/sexmotiv.htm

Comment author: Kaj_Sotala 21 December 2011 10:23:56AM 6 points [-]

These are valid points, but you said that there still exist several cultures where women are considered to be more sexual than men. Shouldn't they then show up in the international studies? Or are these cultures so rare as to not be included in the studies?

Also, it occurs to me that whether or not the differences are biological is somewhat of a red herring. If they are mainly cultural, then it means that it will be easier for an FAI to modify them, but that doesn't affect the primary question of whether they should be modified. Surely that question is entirely independent of the question of their precise causal origin?

Comment author: [deleted] 21 December 2011 04:49:07PM 0 points [-]

These are valid points, but you said that there still exist several cultures where women are considered to be more sexual than men. Shouldn't they then show up in the international studies? Or are these cultures so rare as to not be included in the studies?

Actually it's entirely possible to miss a lot of detail while ostensibly sampling broadly. If you sample citizens in Bogota, Mumbai, Taibei, Kuala Lumpur, Ashgabat, Cleveland, Tijuana, Reykjavik, London, and Warsaw, that's pretty darn international and thus a good cross-cultural representation of humanity, right? Surely any signals that emerge from that dataset are probably at least suggestive of innate human tendency?

Well, actually, no. Those are all major cities deeply influenced and shaped by the same patterns of mercantile-industrialist economics that came out of parts of Eurasia and spread over the globe during the colonial era and continue to do so -- and that influence has worked its way into an awful lot of everyday life for most of the people in the world. It would be like assuming that using wheels is a human cultural universal, because of their prevalence.

An even better analogy here would be if you one day take a bit of plant tissue and looking under a microcoscope, spot the mitochondria. Then you find the same thing in animal tissue. When you see it in fungi, too, you start to wonder. You go sampling and sampling all the visible organisms you can find and even ones from far away, and they all share this trait. It's only Archeans and Bacteria that seem not to. Well, in point of fact there are more types of those than of anything else, significantly more varied and divergent than the other organisms you were looking at put together. It's not a basal condition for living things, it's just a trait that's nearly universal in the ones you're most likely to notice or think about. (The break in the analogy being that mitochondria are a matter of ancestry and subsequent divergence, while many of the human cultural similarities you'd observe in my above example are a matter of alternatives being winnowed and pushed to the margins, and existing similarities amplified by the effects of a coopting culture-plex that's come to dominate the picture).

If they are mainly cultural, then it means that it will be easier for an FAI to modify them, but that doesn't affect the primary question of whether they should be modified. Surely that question is entirely independent of the question of their precise causal origin?

It totally is, but my point was that Eliezer has expressed it's a matter of biology, and if I'm correct in my thoughts he's wrong about that -- and in my understanding of how he feels FAI would behave, this would lead to the behavior I described (FAI explains to Eliezer that he's gotten that wrong).

Comment author: Prismattic 20 December 2011 04:45:11AM *  1 point [-]

As I mentioned the last time this topic came up, there is evidence that giving supplementary testosterone to humans of either sex tends to raise libido, as many FTM trans people will attest, for example. While there is a lot of individual variation, expecting that on average men will have greater sex drive than women is not based purely on theory.

The pre-Victorian Western perception of female sexuality was largely defined by a bunch of misogynistic Cistercian monks, who, we can be reasonably confident, were not basing their conclusions on a lot of actual experience with women, given that they were cloistered celibates.

Comment author: Bugmaster 20 December 2011 12:47:33AM *  3 points [-]

[EY had] proposed modifications you want to make to people that I don't want made to me already...

I am actually rather curious to hear more about your opinion on this topic. I personally would jump at the chance to become "better, stronger, faster" (and, of course, smarter), as long as doing so was my own choice. It is very difficult for me to imagine a situation where someone I trust tells me, for example, "this implant is 100% safe, cheap, never breaks down, and will make you think twice as fast, do you want it ?", and I answer "no thanks". You obviously disagree, so I'd love to hear your reasoning.

EDIT: Basically, what Cthulhoo said. Sorry Cthulhoo, I didn't see your comment earlier, somehow.

Comment author: AspiringKnitter 20 December 2011 01:32:44AM 2 points [-]

Explained one example below.

Comment author: Cthulhoo 19 December 2011 01:23:21PM *  4 points [-]

Yay for not acting like EY wants, I guess. No offense or anything, EY, but you've proposed modifications you want to make to people that I don't want made to me already...

I would be very interested in reading your opinion on this subject. There is sometimes a confirmation effect/death spiral inside the LW community, and it would be nice to be exposed to a completely different point of view. I may then modify my beliefs fully, in part or not at all as a consequence, but it's valuable information for me.

Comment author: XangLiu 19 December 2011 03:23:24PM 33 points [-]

"Only one of those is really a reason for me to be nervous, and that's because Christianity has done some pretty shitty things to my people."

Oh, don't be such a martyr. "My people..." please. You do not represent "your people" and you aren't their authority.

Comment author: paper-machine 19 December 2011 06:22:14PM *  2 points [-]

Whoa, calm down.

I'm not claiming any such representation or authority. They're my people only in the sense that all of us happen to be guys who like guys; they're the group of people I belong to. I'm not even claiming martyrdom, because (not many) of these shitty things have explicitly happened to me. I'm only stating my own (and no one else's) prior for how interactions between self-identified Christians and gay people tend to turn out.

Comment author: XangLiu 19 December 2011 06:46:26PM 30 points [-]

The point has been missed. Deep breath, paper-machine.

Nearly any viewpoint is capable of and has done cruel things to others. No reason to unnecessarilly highlight this fact and dramatize the Party of Suffering. This was an intro thread by a newcomer - not a reason to point to you and "your" people. They can speak for themselves.

Comment author: TheOtherDave 19 December 2011 06:59:49PM 11 points [-]

To the extent that you're saying that the whole topic of Christian/queer relations was inappropriate for an intro thread, I would prefer you'd just said that. I might even agree with you, though I didn't find paper-machine's initial comment especially problematic.

To the extent that you're saying that paper-machine should not treat the prior poor treatment of members of a group they belong to, by members of a group Y belongs to, as evidence of their likely poor treatment by Y, I simply disagree. It may not be especially strong evidence, but it's also far from trivial.

And all the stuff about martyrdom and Parties of Suffering and who gets to say what for whom seems like a complete distraction.

Comment author: Bongo 19 December 2011 06:57:48PM *  5 points [-]

I wonder how this comment got 7 upvotes in 9 minutes.

EDIT: Probably the same way this comment got 7 upvotes in 6 minutes.

Comment author: LWMormon 19 December 2011 07:04:08PM 23 points [-]

LW has a bunch of bored Bayesians on Mondays. Same thing happened to your score, mate.

Comment author: [deleted] 22 December 2011 05:38:34AM 5 points [-]

They can speak for themselves.

Why berate him for doing just that, then? He's expressing his prior: members of a reference class he belongs to are often singled out for mistreatment by members of a reference class that his interlocutor claims membership with. He does not appear to believe himself Ambassador of All The Gay Men, based on what he's actually saying, nor to treat that class-membership as some kind of ontological primitive.

Comment author: Vaniver 19 December 2011 07:36:36PM 2 points [-]

They can speak for themselves.

Unless, of course, it's in an intro thread by a newcomer. ;)

Comment author: AspiringKnitter 28 December 2011 12:40:38AM -1 points [-]

You know, I was right.

I'll probably just leave soon anyway. Nothing good can come of this.

You guys are fine and all, but I'm not cut out for this. I'm not smart enough or thick-skinned enough or familiar enough with various things to be a part of this community. It's not you, it's me, for real, I'm not saying that to make you feel better or something. I've only made you all confused and upset, and I know it's draining for me to participate in these discussions.

See you.

Comment author: TidPao 28 December 2011 12:58:20AM 11 points [-]

Stick around. Your contributions are fine. Not everyone will be accusatory like nyan_sandwich.

Read through the Sequences and comment on what seems good to you.