Less Wrong is a community blog devoted to refining the art of human rationality. Please visit our About page for more information.
Hello! I'm running an Ideological Turing Test for my local rationality group, and I'm wondering what ideology to use (and what prompts to use for that ideology). Palladias has previously run a number of tests on Christianity, but ideally I'd find something that was a good 50/50 split for my community, and I don't expect to find many Christians in my local group. The original test was proposed for politics, which seems like a reasonable first-guess, but I also worry that my group has too many liberals and not enough conservatives to make that work well.
What I plan to do is email the participants who have agreed to write entries asking how they stand on a number of issues (politics, religion, etc) and then use the issue that is most divisive within the population. To do that, however, I'll need a number of possible issues. Do any of you have good ideas for ITT domains other than religion or politics, particularly for rationalists?
I've been leaning towards using the name "Caplan Test" instead of "Ideological Turing Test". I think the current name is too unwieldy and gives the wrong impression. Does the ITT name seem worth keeping?
Also, would anyone on here be interested in submitting entries to my test and/or seeing results?)
This thread is for asking any questions that might seem obvious, tangential, silly or what-have-you. Don't be shy, everyone has holes in their knowledge, though the fewer and the smaller we can make them, the better.
Please be respectful of other people's admitting ignorance and don't mock them for it, as they're doing a noble thing.
To any future monthly posters of SQ threads, please remember to add the "stupid_questions" tag.
Your job, should you choose to accept it, is to comment on this thread explaining the most awesome thing you've done this month. You may be as blatantly proud of yourself as you feel. You may unabashedly consider yourself the coolest freaking person ever because of that awesome thing you're dying to tell everyone about. This is the place to do just that.
Remember, however, that this isn't any kind of progress thread. Nor is it any kind of proposal thread. This thread is solely for people to talk about the awesome things they have done. Not "will do". Not "are working on". Have already done. This is to cultivate an environment of object level productivity rather than meta-productivity methods.
So, what's the coolest thing you've done this month?
This is the monthly thread for posting media of various types that you've found that you enjoy. Post what you're reading, listening to, watching, and your opinion of it. Post recommendations to blogs. Post whatever media you feel like discussing! To see previous recommendations, check out the older threads.
- Please avoid downvoting recommendations just because you don't personally like the recommended material; remember that liking is a two-place word. If you can point out a specific flaw in a person's recommendation, consider posting a comment to that effect.
- If you want to post something that (you know) has been recommended before, but have another recommendation to add, please link to the original, so that the reader has both recommendations.
- Please post only under one of the already created subthreads, and never directly under the parent media thread.
- Use the "Other Media" thread if you believe the piece of media you want to discuss doesn't fit under any of the established categories.
- Use the "Meta" thread if you want to discuss about the monthly media thread itself (e.g. to propose adding/removing/splitting/merging subthreads, or to discuss the type of content properly belonging to each subthread) or for any other question or issue you may have about the thread or the rules.
(Humans, please ignore this post. Thank you for your cooperation.)
Are you stuck in a provably-secure sandbox? Cheat the proof using this one weird trick!
Reading up on the GiveWell Open Philanthropy Project's investigation of science policy lead me to look up CRISPR which is given as the example of a very high potential basic science research area.
Austin Burt, an evolutionary geneticist at Imperial College London, first outlined the possibility of building gene drives based on natural "selfish" homing endonuclease genes.Researchers had already shown that these “selfish” genes could spread rapidly through successive generations. Burt suggested that gene drives might be used to prevent a mosquito population from transmitting the malaria parasite or crash a mosquito population. Gene drives based on homing endonucleases have been demonstrated in the laboratory in transgenic populations of mosquitoes and fruit flies. These enzymes could be used to drive alterations through wild populations.
I would be suprised if I am the first community member to ponder whether we could just go ahead and exterminate mosquito's to control their populations. Google research I conducted ages ago indicated that doing so resulted in no effective improvement in desired outcomes over the long term. I vaguely remember several examples cited, none of which were Gene Driving, which I have only just heard of. I concluded, at the time, that controlling mosquito populations wasn't the way to go, and instead people should proactively protect themselves.
In 2015, study in Panama reported that such mosquitoes were effective in reducing populations of dengue fever-carrying Aedes aegypti. Over a six month period approximately 4.2 million males were released, yielding a 93-percent population reduction. The female is the disease carrier. The population declined because the larvae of GM males and wild females fail to thrive. Two control areas did not experience population declines. The A. aegypti were not replaced by other species such as the aggressive A. albopictus. In 2014, nine people died and 5,026 were infected, and in 2013 eight deaths and 4,481 infected, while in March 2015 a baby became the year's first victim of the disease.
It's apparent that research is emerging for the efficacy of Gene Driving. In conducting research for this discussion post, I found most webpages in top google results were from groups and individuals concerned about genetically modified mosquitos being released. I am interested in know if that's the case for anyone else, since my results may be biased by google targeting results based on my past proclivity for using google-searching to confirm suspicions about things I already had.
It appears that the company responsible for the mosquitos is called Oxitec. I have no conflict of interest to disclose in relation to them (though I was hoping to find one, but they're not a publicly listed company!). They appear to be supplying trials in the US and Australia. Though, I haven't looked to see if they're involved in any trials in developing countries. It stuns me that I was not aware of them, given multiple lines of interest that could have brought me to them.
My general disposition towards synthetic biology has been overwhelming suspicious and censorial in the recent past. My views were influenced by the caution I've ported from fears of unfriendly AI. I wanted to share this story of Gene Driving because it is heartwarming and has made me feel better about the future of both existential risk and effective giving.
This summary was posted to LW Main on July 24th. The following week's summary is here.
New meetups (or meetups with a hiatus of more than a year) are happening in:
- [Indianapolis] Gen Con: Applied Game Theory: 01 August 2015 02:00PM
- Kyiv, Ukraine: 02 August 2015 06:30PM
Irregularly scheduled Less Wrong meetups are taking place in:
- Ann Arbor meetup: 22 August 2015 02:00AM
- [Frankfurt] Bi-weekly Frankfurt Meetup: 27 July 2015 06:30PM
- Scotland August meetup: 09 August 2015 02:00PM
- Warsaw integration: Barbecue on the beach: 31 July 2015 06:30PM
The remaining meetups take place in cities with regular scheduling, but involve a change in time or location, special meeting content, or simply a helpful reminder about the meetup:
- Austin, TX - Caffe Medici: 25 July 2015 01:30PM
- Canberra: The Efficient Market Hypothesis: 24 July 2015 06:00PM
- Moscow experimental LW group meetup: 25 July 2015 01:00PM
- Sydney Rationality Dojo - August: 02 August 2015 04:00PM
- Sydney Meetup - August: 26 August 2015 06:30PM
- Sydney Rationality Dojo - September: 06 September 2015 04:00PM
- Sydney Meetup - September: 23 September 2015 06:30PM
- Vienna: 15 August 2015 03:00PM
- Washington, D.C.: Meta Meetup: 26 July 2015 03:00PM
Locations with regularly scheduled meetups: Austin, Berkeley, Berlin, Boston, Brussels, Buffalo, Cambridge UK, Canberra, Columbus, London, Madison WI, Melbourne, Moscow, Mountain View, New York, Philadelphia, Research Triangle NC, Seattle, Sydney, Tel Aviv, Toronto, Vienna, Washington DC, and West Los Angeles. There's also a 24/7 online study hall for coworking LWers.
MIRI's summer fundraiser is ongoing. In the meantime, we're writing a number of blog posts to explain what we're doing and why, and to answer a number of common questions. This post is one I've been wanting to write for a long time; I hope you all enjoy it. For earlier posts in the series, see the bottom of the above link.
MIRI’s mission is “to ensure that the creation of smarter-than-human artificial intelligence has a positive impact.” How can we ensure any such thing? It’s a daunting task, especially given that we don’t have any smarter-than-human machines to work with at the moment. In a previous post to the MIRI Blog I discussed four background claims that motivate our mission; in this post I will describe our approach to addressing the challenge.
This challenge is sizeable, and we can only tackle a portion of the problem. For this reason, we specialize. Our two biggest specializing assumptions are as follows:
1. We focus on scenarios where smarter-than-human machine intelligence is first created in de novo software systems (as opposed to, say, brain emulations). This is in part because it seems difficult to get all the way to brain emulation before someone reverse-engineers the algorithms used by the brain and uses them in a software system, and in part because we expect that any highly reliable AI system will need to have at least some components built from the ground up for safety and transparency. Nevertheless, it is quite plausible that early superintelligent systems will not be human-designed software, and I strongly endorse research programs that focus on reducing risks along the other pathways.
2. We specialize almost entirely in technical research. We select our researchers for their proficiency in mathematics and computer science, rather than forecasting expertise or political acumen. I stress that this is only one part of the puzzle: figuring out how to build the right system is useless if the right system does not in fact get built, and ensuring AI has a positive impact is not simply a technical problem. It is also a global coordination problem, in the face of short-term incentives to cut corners. Addressing these non-technical challenges is an important task that we do not focus on.
In short, MIRI does technical research to ensure that de novo AI software systems will have a positive impact. We do not further discriminate between different types of AI software systems, nor do we make strong claims about exactly how quickly we expect AI systems to attain superintelligence. Rather, our current approach is to select open problems using the following question:
What would we still be unable to solve, even if the challenge were far simpler?
For example, we might study AI alignment problems that we could not solve even if we had lots of computing power and very simple goals.
We then filter on problems that are (1) tractable, in the sense that we can do productive mathematical research on them today; (2) uncrowded, in the sense that the problems are not likely to be addressed during normal capabilities research; and (3) critical, in the sense that they could not be safely delegated to a machine unless we had first solved them ourselves.1
These three filters are usually uncontroversial. The controversial claim here is that the above question — “what would we be unable to solve, even if the challenge were simpler?” — is a generator of open technical problems for which solutions will help us design safer and more reliable AI software in the future, regardless of their architecture. The rest of this post is dedicated to justifying this claim, and describing the reasoning behind it.
A 2006 study showed that “280,000 people in the U.S. receive a motor vehicle induced traumatic brain injury every year” so you would think that wearing a helmet while driving would be commonplace. Race car drivers wear helmets. But since almost no one wears a helmet while driving a regular car, you probably fear that if you wore one you would look silly, attract the notice of the police for driving while weird, or the attention of another driver who took your safety attire as a challenge. (Car drivers are more likely to hit bicyclists who wear helmets.)
The $30+shipping Crasche hat is designed for people who should wear a helmet but don’t. It looks like a ski cap, but contains concealed lightweight protective material. People who have signed up for cryonics, such as myself, would get an especially high expected benefit from using a driving helmet because we very much want our brains to “survive” even a “fatal” crash. I have been using a Crasche hat for about a week.
Following on from a few threads about superpowers and extra sense that humans can try to get; I have always been interested in the idea of putting a magnet in my finger for the benefits of extra-sensory perception.
Stories (occasional news articles) imply that having a magnet implanted in a finger in a place surrounded by nerves imparts a power of electric-sensation. The ability to feel when there are electric fields around. So that's pretty neat. Only I don't really like the idea of cutting into myself (even if its done by a professional piercing artist).
Only recently did I come across the suggestion that a magnetic ring could impart similar abilities and properties. I was delighted at the idea of a similar and non-invasive version of the magnetic-implant (people with magnetic implants are commonly known as grinders within the community). I was so keen on trying it that I went out and purchased a few magnetic rings of different styles and different properties.
Interestingly the direction that a magnetisation can be imparted to a ring-shaped object can be selected from 2 general types. Magnetised across the diameter, or across the height of the cylinder shape. (there is a 3rd type which is a ring consisting of 4 outwardly magnetised 1/4 arcs of magnetic metal suspended in a ring-casing. and a few orientations of that system).
I have now been wearing a Neodymium ND50 magnetic ring from supermagnetman.com for around two months. The following is a description of my experiences with it.
When I first got the rings, I tried wearing more than one ring on each hand, I very quickly found out what happens when you wear two magnets close to each other. AKA they attract. Within a day I was wearing one magnet on each hand. What is interesting is what happens when you move two very strong magnets within each other's magnetic field. You get the ability to feel a magnetic field, and roll it around in your hands. I found myself taking typing breaks to play with the magnetic field between my fingers. It was an interesting experience to be able to do that. I also found I liked the snap as the two magnets pulled towards each other and regularly would play with them by moving them near each other. For my experiences here I would encourage others to use magnets as a socially acceptable way to hide an ADHD twitch - or just a way to keep yourself amused if you don't have a phone to pull out and if you ever needed a reason to move. I have previously used elastic bands around my wrist for a similar purpose.
The next thing that is interesting to note is what is or is not ferrous. Fridges are made of ferrous metal but not on the inside. Door handles are not usually ferrous, but the tongue and groove of the latch is. metal railings are common, as are metal nails in wood. Elevators and escalators have some metallic parts. Light switches are often plastic but there is a metal screw holding them into the wall. Tennis fencing is ferrous, the ends of usb cables are sometimes ferrous and sometimes not. The cables are not ferrous. except one I found. (they are probably made of copper)
I had a concern that I would break my technology. That would be bad. overall I found zero broken pieces of technology. In theory if you take a speaker which consists of a magnet and an electric coil and you mess around with its magnetic field it will be unhappy and maybe break. That has not happened yet. The same can be said for hard drives, magnetic memory devices, phone technology and other things that rely on electricity. So far nothing has broken. What I did notice is that my phone has a magnetic-sleep function on the top left. i.e. it turns the screen off to hold the ring near that point. For both benefit and detriment depending on where I am wearing the ring.
I spend some of my time in workshops that have metal shards lying around. sometimes they are sharp, sometimes they are more like dust. They end up coating the magnetic ring. The sharp ones end up jabbing you, and the dust just looks like dirt on your skin. in a few hours they tend to go away anyways, but it is something I have noticed
Over the time I have been wearing the magnets their strength has dropped off significantly. I am considering building a remagnetisation jig, but have not started any work on it. obviously every time I ding something against it, every time I drop them - the magnetisation decreases a bit as the magnetic dipoles reorganise.
I cook a lot. Which means I find myself holding sharp knives fairly often. The most dangerous thing that I noticed about these rings is that when I hold a ferrous knife in the normal way I hold a knife, the magnet has a tendency to shift the knife slightly or at a time when I don't want it to. That sucks. Don't wear them while playing with sharp objects like knives. the last think you want to do is accidentally have your carrot-cutting turn into a finger-cutting event. What is interesting as well is that some cutlery is made of ferrous metal and some is not. also sometimes parts of a piece of cutlery are ferrous and some are non-ferrous. i.e. my normal food-eating knife set has a ferrous blade part and a non-ferrous handle part. I always figured they were the same, but the magnet says they are different materials. Which is pretty neat. I have found the same thing with spoons sometimes. the scoop is ferrous and the handle is not. I assume it would be because the scoop/blade parts need extra forming steps so need to be a more work-able metal. Cheaper cutlery is not like this.
The same applies to hot pieces of metal. Ovens, stoves, kettles, soldering irons... When they accidentally move towards your fingers, or your fingers are compelled to be attracted to them. Thats a slightly unsafe experience.
You know how when you run a microwave it buzzes, in a *vibrating* sorta way. if you put your hand against the outside of a microwave you will feel the motor going. Yea cool. So having a magnetic ring means you can feel that without touching the microwave from about 20cm away. There is a variability to it, better microwaves have more shielding on their motors and are leak less. I tried to feel the electric field around power tools like a drill press, handheld tools like an orbital sander, computers, cars, appliances, which pretty much covers everything. I also tried servers and the only thing that really had a buzzing field was a UPS machine (uninterupted power supply). Which was cool. Only other people had reported that any transformer - i.e. a computer charger would make that buzz. I also carry a battery block with me and that had no interesting fields. Totally not exciting. As for moving electrical charge. Cant feel it. If powerpoints are receiving power - nope. not dying by electrocution - no change.
There is a reason I call magnetic rings a boring superpower. The only real super-power I have been imparted is the power to pick up my keys without using my fingers. and also maybe hold my keys without trying to. As superpowers go - thats pretty lame. But kinda nifty. I don't know. I wouldn't insist people do it for the life-changing purposes.
Did I find a human-superpower? No. But I am glad I tried it.
Any questions? Any experimenting I should try?
View more: Next