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Silas comments on Worse Than Random - Less Wrong

25 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 11 November 2008 07:01PM

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Comment author: Silas 11 November 2008 09:47:02PM 3 points [-]

@Joshua_Simmons: I got to thinking about that idea as I read today's post, but I think Eliezer_Yudkowsky answered it therein: Yes, it's important to expirment, but why must your selection of what to try out, be random? You should be able to do better by exploiting all of your knowledge about the structure of the space, so as to pick better ways to experiment. To the extent that your non-random choices of what to test do worse than random, it is because your understanding of the problem is so poor as to be worse than random.

(And of course, the only time when searching the small space around known-useful points is a good idea, is when you *already* have knowledge of the structure of the space...)

@Caledonian: That's an interesting point. But are you sure the effect you describe (at science museums) isn't merely due to the brain now seeing a new color gradient in the image, rather than randomness as such? Don't you get the same effect from adding an orderly grid of dots? What about from aligning the dots along the lines of the image?

Remember, Eliezer_Yudkowsky's point was not that randomness can never be an improvement, but that it's always possible improve beyond what randomness would yield.