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Comment author: RolfAndreassen 18 April 2014 05:30:59AM *  0 points [-]

Someone - it may be the journalist writing your linked article, or the professor he quotes, or you - is confused about the difference between the lifespan of a company, and how long it stays in the S&P 500. Observe:

The average lifespan of a company listed in the S&P 500 index of leading US companies has decreased by more than 50 years in the last century, from 67 years in the 1920s to just 15 years today, according to Professor Richard Foster from Yale University.

Professor Foster estimates that by 2020, more than three-quarters of the S&P 500 will be companies that we have not heard of yet.

Very well, but that does not demonstrate that the existing 500 will be bankrupt, only that they will be smaller than, say, Public Service Enterprise Inc.

Additionally, the good professor seems to have a definition of lifespan which is spectacularly non-useful for your purposes:

"When a company has run its course it gets bought," says Professor Foster.

You are interested in bankruptcies in which the company ceases operations. Buyouts, in which there is new management or even the same management but new ownership, are irrelevant. By that standard, YouTube is out of business!

Comment author: CellBioGuy 18 April 2014 05:27:27AM 0 points [-]

You can also model a population as consisting of many mixed subpopulations. What if you model companies as consisting of a large short-half-life population that are doomed to fail for structural or business model reasons, and a small long-half-life population that fails due to rarer issues in the wider world or institutional drift or bad fortune? Or a gradiation of different half lives?

Comment author: Eugine_Nier 18 April 2014 04:40:34AM 0 points [-]

I wouldn't. Technology companies have an unusually low expected lifetime, and in any case frequently undergo restructurings to deal with disruptive technologies.

Comment author: Eugine_Nier 18 April 2014 04:28:24AM 0 points [-]

Also, I'm not convinced those would protect against hyperinflation, given the kinds of things countries suffering from hyperinflation tend to do.

Comment author: Alejandro1 18 April 2014 03:59:01AM 0 points [-]

So the problem is that the politicians can't lie well enough??

No, that's not what he means. Quoting from the post (which I apologize for not linking to before):

Many of the commenters said that my position can’t be right because people will misapply it in dangerous ways. They are right that politicians will misapply it in dangerous ways. In fact, I bet some politicians who wrongfully lie do so because they think that they mistakenly fall under a murderer at the door-type case. But that doesn’t mean that the principle is wrong. It just means that people tend to mess up the application.

So, to recap. Brennan says "lying to voters is the right thing when good results from it". His critics say, very reasonably, that since politicians and humans in general are biased in their own favor in manifold ways, every politician would surely think that good would result from their lies, so if everyone followed his advice everyone would lie all the time, with disastrous consequences. Brennan replies that this doesn't mean that "lying is right when good results from it" is false; it just means that due to human fallibilities a better general outcome would be achieved if people didn't try to do the right thing in this situation but followed the simpler rule of never lying.

My interpretation is that therefore in the post Multiheaded linked to Brennan was not, despite appearances, making a case that actually existing politicians should actually go ahead and lie, but rather making an ivory-tower philosophical point that sometimes them lying would be "the right thing to do" in the abstract sense.

Comment author: lincolnquirk 18 April 2014 03:15:02AM 1 point [-]

The reference class of "companies" is the wrong class. Unfortunately I don't think there is a good reference class. "Organizations who exist primarily to survive, rather than grow / make money" would be a good class, but I can't think of anything else much like this.

Oh wait, people. Like survivalist organizations, humans exist primarily to survive and we consume resources at a predictable rate. On the other hand there are a lot of things that make humans different from organizations. The relevant differences: a) we die of natural causes, whereas organizations don't; b) we have one intelligence directing our actions and choices, whereas organizations have no intrinsic intelligence and depend on their human constituency/directorship for this. Are there other relevant differences?

Comment author: Lumifer 18 April 2014 02:00:19AM *  1 point [-]

So maybe he just meant that in some situations the "objectively right" action is to lie to voters, without actually recommending that politicians go out and do it

I'm confused. So would he recommend that the politicians do the "objectively wrong" thing?

All of that looks a lot like incoherence, unwillingness to accept the implications of stated beliefs, and general handwaving.

The fact that most people would botch applying a theory does not show that the theory is wrong.

So the problem is that the politicians can't lie well enough?? X-D

Comment author: Lumifer 18 April 2014 01:57:53AM 1 point [-]

but their impact wasn't zero, either.

So, looking back at recent history, what wouldn't have happened if the high schools students didn't participate?

Comment author: Alejandro1 18 April 2014 01:39:37AM 0 points [-]

A lot of the superficial evilness and stupidity is softened by the follow-up post, where in reply to the objection that politicians uniformly following this principle would result in a much worse situation, he says:

The fact that most people would botch applying a theory does not show that the theory is wrong. So, for instance, suppose—as is often argued—that most people would misapply utilitarian moral standards. Perhaps applying utilitarianism is too hard for the common person. Even if so, this does not invalidate utilitarianism. As David Brink notes, utilitarian moral theory means to provide a criterion of right, not a method for making decisions.

So maybe he just meant that in some situations the "objectively right" action is to lie to voters, without actually recommending that politicians go out and do it (just as most utilitarians would not recommend that people try to always act like strict naive utilitarians).

Comment author: niceguyanon 18 April 2014 01:31:30AM *  1 point [-]
Comment author: Yosarian2 18 April 2014 01:20:09AM *  -1 points [-]

High school students played a significant role in some SNCC civil rights protests, such as sit-ins at lunch counters. In many cities the sit-ins were actually ran and done entirely by high school students. One well known example is that a number of students from Dudly high school participated in the famous Greensboro sit-in.

Edit: They're only just mentioned in this source, but they were there.

http://www.sitinmovement.org/history/greensboro-chronology.asp

I'm not claiming that high school students played as big a role as college students, but their impact wasn't zero, either.

Comment author: James_Ernest 18 April 2014 01:07:27AM 0 points [-]

Good thing I checked in, I had no indication that there were any Christchurch LWers. New Zealanders were rather well represented in the survey though.

I should be able to make it. I haven't attended any LW meetups before.

Comment author: gwern 18 April 2014 01:05:04AM 0 points [-]

"The remarkable, yet not extraordinary, human brain as a scaled-up primate brain and its associated cost", Herculano-Houzel 2012 doesn't seem to mention there being anything special about bird brains relative to primate and other brains in either neuronal density or energy efficiency (but I'm not sure to what extent they looked).

Comment author: Lumifer 18 April 2014 12:35:29AM 1 point [-]

b) It is entirely nonobvious to me that this is either evil or stupid.

Consider two concepts: "credibility" and "multiple rounds". That's what makes it stupid.

Consider another idea: "I don't care about multiple rounds because after a single win I can do enough". That's what makes it evil.

Comment author: rhollerith_dot_com 18 April 2014 12:00:42AM 0 points [-]

@hruvulum

Comment author: Username 17 April 2014 11:43:25PM -1 points [-]

I am down voting this because:

a) I don't want to see people pushing politics on LW in any form.

b) It is entirely nonobvious to me that this is either evil or stupid.

Comment author: NoSuchPlace 17 April 2014 10:59:36PM 1 point [-]

LW believes the average probability that cryonics will be successful for someone frozen today is 22.8%

This is a nitpick, but using average (I'm assuming that means arithmetic mean) is misleading since so long as at least a nonnegotiable proportion of people is answering in the double digits every answer below 1% is being treated as essentially the same, thus skewing towards higher probabilities of cryonics working.

Comment author: eeuuah 17 April 2014 10:49:49PM 0 points [-]

Recommendations for good collections of common Deep Wisdom? General or situation specific would be helpful (e.g. all the different standard advice you get while picking your college major, or going through a tough break up).

Comment author: E_Ransom 17 April 2014 10:13:42PM 0 points [-]

Thank you very much for those links! They're very helpful.

As I mentioned in reply to niceguyanon, my field is one where language acquisition has a higher value than it might for other fields. And, I'll admit, I do feel that the confidence and cultural benefits are worth the investment, for me at least. Expression and communication are important to my work. Becoming a more efficient communicator means making myself more valuable.

I know that audio tapes and text books are not how I'm going to learn a language. Like many of my peers, I spent two years in classes repeating over and over "tener, tener... tengo, tengo... tengas, tengas...." and gained nothing out of it except how to say "Me gusto chocolate." I know how language learning doesn't work, if nothing else.

Comment author: Torello 17 April 2014 09:55:03PM 4 points [-]

If you are willing/able, the best way is to go to a Spanish school in Mexico or Central America and live with a host family for a month or two. I learned more in two months doing that than my first four university classes combined. This probably doesn't fall under "teaching yourself," but if you are serious the other things can't even touch the ROI of an immersive experience, in terms of time and money to Spanish acquired

Fluenz is a great computer-based program, but it's expensive. I used Rosetta Stone a bit, this is way better.

Pimsular audio tapes for car rides or MP3 player

Duolingo is free, but isn't for active conversation.

Look on Meetup.com for a spanish conversation meetup.

italki is a good option for a conversation focus.

http://markmanson.net/foreign-language

http://www.andrewskotzko.com/how-to-unlock-foreign-languages/

The last two links are about principles/suggestions. I agree with most of them. This is my advice: say anything that you can, whenever you can. Embarrassment is often the biggest obstacle. When you are beginning with conversations, say anything you can, even if it is a single word, grammatically incorrect, or irrelevant.

With regard to what niceguyanon said about low ROI on languages aside from English, I think there are social capital benefits, self-confidence benefits, cognitive functioning benefits that are valuable. Not to mention travel benefits--Spanish makes travel in many countries easy.

Comment author: Nornagest 17 April 2014 09:37:06PM *  1 point [-]

Is this actually the case? Philosophers seem to consider Aristotle really influential and quite outdated, while English lit. people who aren't decrying him as a dead white male patriarchal oppressor still seem to think Shakespeare was probably the greatest thing ever.

If you asked philosophers to make a list of the greatest philosophers of all time, and then asked English lit professors to make a list of the greatest English writers of all time, the relative rankings of Aristotle and Shakespeare would likely be close to each other (though probably not identical). And I think the reason for this is that they're ranking -- and teaching, and recommending -- mainly along lines of influence rather than technical skill or correctness or enjoyment. The precise terms they might be described in might be different, but in terms of their place in their fields I think the analogy's pretty close.

I do think that Shakespeare by most standards would look better than Aristotle relative to his counterparts today: literature was a more mature field in Shakespeare's time than philosophy was in Aristotle's. But I don't think he was the most technically skilled writer in English, not by a long shot, and I suspect most literary scholars (Shakespeare scholars excepted) would agree with me.

Comment author: moridinamael 17 April 2014 09:34:58PM 0 points [-]

I would suggest perhaps contacting each person who contacted you via email or PM to ask whether they would like to opt into a private mailing list? I would definitely opt into such a mailing list. There's a Less Wrong Parents mailing list, why not a Less Wrong Networking mailing list?

Comment author: buybuydandavis 17 April 2014 09:19:58PM 0 points [-]

I didn't mean to ask for actual responses. Fictitious works fine too. I was just trying to identify the boundary.

There's a difference between "knowing how to do something" and "understanding how it works, therefore knowing how to do something".

The difference between having a lookup table of solutions, and having an accurate model of the system upon which solutions can be simulated and verified.

Comment author: Lumifer 17 April 2014 08:53:53PM 3 points [-]

Yes, you can buy TIPS the return on which is, to a first approximation, zero.

Comment author: Lumifer 17 April 2014 08:50:08PM *  1 point [-]

Depends on your point of view, of course, but I don't think the bleeding-heart libertarians (aka liberaltarians) are actually libertarians. In any case, it's likely that the guy didn't spend too much time thinking it through. But so what? You know the appropriate xkcd cartoon, I assume...

Comment author: lavalamp 17 April 2014 08:46:25PM 1 point [-]

How does it change the numbers if you condition on the fact that Alcor has already been around for 40 years?

Comment author: James_Miller 17 April 2014 08:45:58PM 1 point [-]
Comment author: ChristianKl 17 April 2014 08:38:22PM 0 points [-]

Given that the guy is a professional philosopher I doubt ignorance is a good explanation. It's probably a case of someone wanting to be to contrarian for his own good. Or at least the good of his cause. Given that he wrote a book to argue that most people shouldn't vote, he might simply troll for academic controversy to get recognition and citations.

Comment author: Multiheaded 17 April 2014 07:59:12PM *  -1 points [-]

Many internet libertarians aren't very consequentialist, though. And really, just the basic application of rule-utilitarianism would expose many, many problems with that post. But really, though: while the "Non-Aggression Principle" appears just laughably unworkable to me... given that many libertarians do subscribe to it, is lying to voters not an act of aggression?

Comment author: Lumifer 17 April 2014 07:55:05PM 3 points [-]

How is lying like this ethical under it?

Consequentialism has no problems with lying at all.

Comment author: Lumifer 17 April 2014 07:53:39PM 2 points [-]

with liabilities as nasty as not-quite-dead humans.

Actually, these are very-much-dead humans, with the proviso that in the future it's possible they might become undead, erm, I mean resurrected, erm, I mean not by Jesus, erm, you know what I mean :-D

Comment author: Lumifer 17 April 2014 07:50:00PM 1 point [-]

But by investing in stocks and land you can protect yourself from hyperinflation.

You can't protect yourself from hyperinflation and volatility at the same time. If you are afraid of volatility you put money into cash and fixed income instruments which are highly exposed to inflation. If you are afraid of inflation you put money into hard assets and stocks, but these are risky investments and are subject to considerable volatility.

Don't forget that you also MUST earn sufficient return to cover the running expenses.

Comment author: wwa 17 April 2014 07:31:13PM *  2 points [-]

Assuming somebody would want to take over a bankrupt company with liabilities as nasty as not-quite-dead humans. The liabilities of a bankrupt cryo company would vastly exceed the assets. Also, you can't get rid of those liabilities, not even part of them, in any way which isn't a PR disaster.

Comment author: Multiheaded 17 April 2014 07:22:29PM *  -3 points [-]

Evil Stupid Thing Alert!

"The Duty to Lie to Stupid Voters" - yes, really

I decided to post it here because it's just so incredibly stupid and naively evil, but also because it's using LW-ish language in a piece on how to - in essence - thoroughly corrupt the libertarian cause. Thought y'all would enjoy it.

Standard rejoinders. Furthermore: even if Brennan is ignorant of the classical liberal value of republicanism, why can't he use his own libertarian philosophy to unfuck himself? How is lying like this ethical under it? Why does he discuss the benefits of such crude, object-level deception openly, on a moderately well read blog, with potential for blowback? By VALIS, this is a perfect example of how much some apparently intelligent people could, indeed, benefit from reading LW!

Comment author: James_Miller 17 April 2014 07:10:24PM 1 point [-]

Some types of financial crises would destroy them unless they could attract new donations. But by investing in stocks and land you can protect yourself from hyperinflation.

Comment author: James_Miller 17 April 2014 07:07:55PM 4 points [-]

Unless the company had an established record doing other things. If Google got into the cryonics business I would likely transfer my membership from Alcor to them.

Comment author: James_Miller 17 April 2014 07:06:01PM 0 points [-]

Yes, but if a company has assets then in bankruptcy often both it's assets and some of its liabilities get transferred. Say Alcor goes bankrupt and a judge has to decide what to do with Alcor's bodies and its assets. The judge would be more likely to give the assets to an organization that was likely to preserve the bodies.

Comment author: JonahSinick 17 April 2014 06:55:10PM 1 point [-]

The point is that the skills among economics majors compliments greatly, job industries such as banking, finance, consulting, research, etc. just like skills in an English major would compliment journalism, or a history major would compliment historical research.

But is it really true that the skills that economics majors have are good fits for banking, finance and consulting? And do they acquire these skills during college? If they did acquire them in college, was it from their economics courses? Did they have them going into college?

Comment author: wwa 17 April 2014 06:52:48PM 0 points [-]

Frozen people are liabilities, not assets.

Comment author: Username 17 April 2014 06:39:51PM 0 points [-]

Great link. From the cited paper:

The earnings of college graduate who speak a foreign language are higher than the earnings of those who don't. Our estimates of the impact of bilingualism on earnings are relatively small (2%-3%) and compare unfavorably with recent estimates on the returns to one extra year of general schooling (8%-14%), which may help explain current second-language investment decisions of monolingual English-speakers in the United States. the returns may be higher for individuals in management and the business services occupations, and they seem to be higher ex post for individuals who learn a second language later in life. Note that the results in this paper are estimates of the gross returns to learning a second language. Individual decisions on whether to study a second language will depend on (among other things) the opportunity cost of the time devoted to learning it and its nonmonetary rewards.

Comment author: E_Ransom 17 April 2014 06:23:57PM 1 point [-]

Thanks for the link. I hadn't actually considered language learning in an ROI-fashion, but it's obviously something I should think about before making heavy investments.

I still think it worth the time since my field involves dealing with non-English parties often. Though I have no distinct need for bilingualism at the moment, it will make me more hireable. However, I do need to evaluate my time learning Spanish against, say, the gains of spending that same time learning programming languages.

Comment author: lavalamp 17 April 2014 06:03:16PM 1 point [-]

90% agree, one other thing you may not know: both dropbox and google drive have options to automatically upload photos from your phone, and you don't have to sync your desktop with them. So it's not clear that they merely double the needed space.

Comment author: niceguyanon 17 April 2014 05:57:03PM 5 points [-]

ROI in learning a foreign language is low, unless it is English. But if you must, I would say the next best thing to immersive instruction would be to watch spanish hulu as an aid to learning. You'd get real conversions at conversational speeds.

Comment author: drethelin 17 April 2014 05:32:52PM *  6 points [-]

Since there are companies that have existed for centuries, the criteria for "least volatile" should probably be something other than S&P 500. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_oldest_companies#1650_to_1699 A company being German or Japanese seems to be almost mandatory. Should Alcor relocate to Berlin?

89.4% of the companies with more than 100 years of history are businesses employing fewer than 300 people.

Comment author: E_Ransom 17 April 2014 05:27:07PM 1 point [-]

I am currently teaching myself basic Spanish. At the moment, I'm using my library's (highly limited) resources to refresh my memory of Spanish learned in high school and college. However, I know I won't go far without practice. To this end, I'd like to find a conversation partner.

Does anyone have any recommendation of resources for language learners? Particularly resources that enable conversation (written or spoke) so learners can improve and actually use what they are learning? The resource wouldn't have to be dedicated solely to Spanish learning. Eventually, I want to learn other languages as well (such as German and French).

Comment author: niceguyanon 17 April 2014 05:25:52PM *  1 point [-]

One particular simple and easy to follow tip, to add to the Toastmasters and taking leadership type courses advice, is that you should also you signal to those around you of your interest in these things as well. Some of the other advice here can take time and be hard to achieve, you don't just turn a switch become charismatic or a great public speaker. So in the meantime while you work on all those awesome skills, don't forget to just simply let others know about your drive, ambitions, and competency.

This is easier to pull off than the fake-it-till-you-make-it trick. It's more about show-your-ambition-till-you-make-it. It's easy to do because you don't have to fake anything. It reminds me of this seduction advice I read from Mystery's first book that went something along the lines of, you don't have to be already rich to seduce somebody, you just have to let them know you have ambition and desire to one day be rich/successful.

Comment author: RichardKennaway 17 April 2014 05:07:17PM 5 points [-]

Some patients at CSNY were unharmed by that failure, so having your organization fail doesn't automatically imply death.

Your chances of surviving your cryo company going bust may depend on how seriously society in general takes the idea that you aren't dead yet.

Comment author: Lumifer 17 April 2014 05:01:40PM 2 points [-]

Alcor goes out of its way to avoid having anything that could be a debt, and is careful to maintain funds that can be used to continue to keep its patients preserved.

So Alcor has, essentially, something like an endowment fund the investment returns from which pay for the expenses of maintaining the cryo facilities.

That raises an interesting question of what will happen to Alcor in the case of a purely financial crisis -- say a market crash or a hyperinflationary episode...

Comment author: ChristianKl 17 April 2014 04:57:04PM 4 points [-]

If a new cryonics company would spring up than it would have to be a lot cheaper than Alcor to draw customers. Having a stable 40 year history is much more important to a cryonics company than most other companies.

Alcor can ask for high prices to freeze people and thereby raise capital that makes it less likely to fold.

Comment author: pcm 17 April 2014 04:50:23PM 4 points [-]

Bankruptcy is normally means having debts that can't be paid, and Alcor goes out of its way to avoid having anything that could be a debt, and is careful to maintain funds that can be used to continue to keep its patients preserved. This kind of conservatism comes at some cost in its ability to grow, so it doesn't require unusually good management to have a higher than normal chance of continuing to exist.

There seem to have been two cryonics organizations that failed (CSC and CSNY). Some patients at CSNY were unharmed by that failure, so having your organization fail doesn't automatically imply death. Plus people have learned from those failures.

Comment author: Lumifer 17 April 2014 04:48:54PM 1 point [-]

Dilbert workplaces are contagious and so very common.

I have a working hypothesis that it is, to a large degree, a function of size. Pretty much all huge companies are Dilbertian, very few tiny one are. It's more complicated than just that because in large companies people often manage to create small semi-isolated islands or enclaves with culture different from the surroundings, but I think the general rule that the concentration of PHBs is correlated with the company size holds.

Comment author: benkuhn 17 April 2014 04:47:00PM 0 points [-]

Yes, definitely agree that politicians can dupe people into hiring them. Just wanted to raise the point that it's very workplace-dependent. The takeaway is probably "investigate your own corporate environment and figure out whether doing your job well is actually rewarded, because it may not be".

Comment author: Lumifer 17 April 2014 04:42:33PM *  1 point [-]

but it is the most standard one to fit a functional form

It is the most simple one and probably the most widely used, though often inappropriately.

My focus was on techniques that can use existing forecast estimates in a black-box fashion rather than those that require one to create new models of one's own on the evolution of the relevant processes.

As soon as you do something with "existing forecast estimates" other than just accepting them, you are creating a new model of your own. You want to correct them for bias? That's a model you've created.

If you use external forecasts as data, as inputs, you are using them in "black-box fashion".

Comment author: shminux 17 April 2014 04:28:09PM -1 points [-]

I'd beware conflating "interpersonal skills" with "playing politics."

Certainly there is a spectrum there.

The subtext of your comment is that the companies you mention were somehow duped into promoting these bad engineers to executive roles

I did not mean it that way in general, but in one particular case both ran the company into the ground, one by picking a wrong (dying) market, the other by picking a poor acquisition target (the code base hiding behind a flashy facade sucked). I am not claiming that if the company promoted someone else they would have done a better job.

Second, I think that the "playing politics" part is true at some organizations but not at others.

If we define "playing politics as "using interpersonal relationships to one's own advantage and others' detriment", then I am yet to see a company with more than a dozen employees where this wasn't commonplace.

If we define "interpersonal skills" as "the art of presenting oneself in the best possible light", then some people are naturally more skilled at it than others and techies rarely top the list.

As for trusting the management to accurately figure out who actually deserves credit, I am not as optimistic. Dilbert workplaces are contagious and so very common. I'm glad that you managed to avoid getting stuck in one.

Comment author: James_Miller 17 April 2014 04:20:18PM 10 points [-]

For-profit companies have more incentives than Alcor does to take risks that deliberately expose themselves to the risk of bankruptcy. When a company goes bankrupt it's assets (and often many of its obligations) are not destroyed, rather they are often transferred to another organization.

Comment author: VipulNaik 17 April 2014 04:19:36PM 0 points [-]

OLS regression isn't the only tool, but it is the most standard one to fit a functional form. One can use other kinds of regressions. My focus was on techniques that can use existing forecast estimates in a black-box fashion rather than those that require one to create new models of one's own on the evolution of the relevant processes.

Comment author: Lumifer 17 April 2014 04:08:36PM *  1 point [-]

The forecasts may be coming from some external agency, not from me... My goal is to use that number and come up with a better forecast from it.

In this case calling your inputs "forecasts" is just confusing. For you they are nothing but data on the basis of which you will build your own model to produce your forecasts.

In this framework you're just doing normal forecasting and should use all the normal tools. There's no reason to limit yourself to OLS regression, for example.

Comment author: V_V 17 April 2014 03:57:26PM 0 points [-]

Ok.

Comment author: VipulNaik 17 April 2014 03:54:02PM 1 point [-]

Normally, your forecasts are generated by some model. That model is usually fitted to historical data and then used to produce forecasts. If the forecasts are bad, you need to fix the model, not overlay another model on top of it.

The forecasts may be coming from some external agency, not from me (for instance, they may be consensus forecasts generated by a poll). My goal is to use that number and come up with a better forecast from it. I could frame it as changing the model, but since I don't control the publication of the original forecast, I'm conceptualizing it as coming up with a new forecast.

Many forecasts have been observed to have systematic biases of some sorts so that explicitly correcting for these biases gives more accurate forecasts. After I published the post, I came across the name for using linear regression for improving forecasts. It's called Theil's correction. If you're controlling the forecast yourself, you can apply that before you publish the forecast. If the publication of the forecast is outside of your control, however, you need to apply that forecast afterwards.

Comment author: VipulNaik 17 April 2014 03:46:29PM *  0 points [-]

Sorry for my lack of clarity.

I was making the point that if the run time can be broken down in a form where it's expressed as a sum of products, where the summands are the times taken for some sub-algorithms, then we can attempt to tweak the sub-algorithms to reduce the time taken for the individual tasks.

The time taken for the sub-algorithm may or may not be polynomial in the input dimensions.

Comment author: Lumifer 17 April 2014 03:36:30PM 3 points [-]

I think the word you're looking for is "brain dumps" :-)

I'm ambivalent about brain dumps on LW. I can see both pros and cons.

Comment author: Lumifer 17 April 2014 03:32:03PM 1 point [-]

their projects working or not working either. They should never think "I will be used as an example of how not to do science"

These are completely different things. Most theories/projects/attempts in science fail. That is how science works and is NOT "an example of how not to do science".

Comment author: V_V 17 April 2014 03:22:43PM 0 points [-]

I'm not assuming that.

"let's assume that the time taken is a sum of products"

This is the definition of a polynomial, although you might not have intended it to be a polynomial in something other than the input dimensions. In that case, I'm not sure I've understood clearly what you are arguing.

Comment author: VipulNaik 17 April 2014 03:17:10PM *  1 point [-]

Thanks for your thoughts. My purpose with the posts was more to lay out some of my preliminary thoughts on the subject and get any feedback people have, i.e., to check my thinking.

I do understand that many of the posts aren't awesome and won't get upvotes, and that's something I can accept (the marginal cost of polishing the posts to the point where they look really exciting probably isn't worth the benefit, if the posts can be reworked at all). The small amounts of net upvotes do seem to add up. Some of my posts (such as http://lesswrong.com/r/discussion/lw/jj1/supply_demand_and_technological_progress_how/ and http://lesswrong.com/lw/k25/beware_technological_wonderland_or_why_text_will/ did end up getting a lot of upvotes eventually). Some of my posts, such as this one, are more of "utility" posts that I will refer to in later posts. I should not that I am not personally too concerned with karma; as long as I am not being heavily downvoted on net, I think that posting passes a cost-benefit analysis for me.

While I do have a broader framework of where I'm going with the posts, the framework itself is changing frequently in my head, and I don't think it is productive to lay it out too much right now while it's still in so much flux. But I will periodically review and add more links between the posts. Once I am done with all posts, I will do a more thorough cleanup.

Comment author: Baughn 17 April 2014 02:53:48PM *  1 point [-]

The more I think about it, the more I think I have to say "no comment". Sorry, I'd have liked to answer.

Instead, have some thoughts:

  • Curiosity is good. Once you get above the dregs, the #1 problem with programmers is if they feel comfortable not learning anything not important to their job.

  • There's a difference between "knowing how to do something" and "understanding how it works, therefore knowing how to do something". Everyone wants the latter, some don't realise they want it, but a lot of people settle for the former.

With that said, I imagine we'd hire anyone with either outstanding depth of knowledge or breadth of knowledge, but don't quote me on that. It's general advice, definitely not a comment on hiring practices that I'm not that familiar with.

Comment author: roland 17 April 2014 02:36:27PM 2 points [-]

http://vimeo.com/86519824 direct vimeo link

Comment author: ChristianKl 17 April 2014 12:43:44PM 0 points [-]

Because it's a group of people who are excited for years about a rule for calculating conditional probability?

No.

At the community we had one session where having empathy was a point. The person who's on stage to explain the rest what empathy is talks about how it's having an accurate mental model of other people and not that empathy is about feeling emotions.

I don't want to say that having an accurate mental model of other people isn't useful, but it's not what people mean with the word empathy in a lot of other communities. Empathy usually refers to a process that's about feeling emotions.

Comment author: Gunnar_Zarncke 17 April 2014 12:16:07PM 5 points [-]

This comment applies to all of your recent posts.

I notice that you wrote a bunch of loosely related posts on forecasting but got little comments and votes for them. And I want to comment on that. I'm not clear what the exact reason is but I guess it's multi-factored.

  • Some posts are lengthy. I think you may assume a bit more prior knowledge and shortening them (by removing explanations or assumptions)

  • Some posts do not have a clear thread or result or key question. Try to make a point.

  • I get the impression that they are not (made) interesting enough esp. considering the number of posts. Some posts seem to be just accompanying material. You could post these as comments of one main post.

  • There is not a single place to comment these. No one stands out binds them together.

  • The sequence lacks cohesion. Actually it is no sequence but looks like a bunch of loosely related posts. You should add "Followup" or "Related" links. You could have tried to make it into a sequence by building on prior posts and working toward one key result.

Comment author: enbee 17 April 2014 12:07:14PM 2 points [-]

I recently read this piece on meritocracy - rung quite true to me from personal experience. I work with a guy of similar ability to me, but I think I would beat him on most technical and simple people skills. However, he still gets ahead from being more ambitious and upfront than I am, and while he's a bit more qualified on paper it's used to far better effect. (No bitterness, he's still a good guy to work with and I know it's up to me to be better. Also I'm in kind of mid-level finance rather than coding.)

Comment author: Stuart_Armstrong 17 April 2014 11:31:13AM 0 points [-]

I don't think it's good for science for scientists to be denigrated for choosing lines of research that end up not working.

No, they shouldn't. But they shouldn't be blase and relaxed about their projects working or not working either. They should never think "I will be used as an example of how not to do science" as being a positive thing to aim for...

Comment author: Stuart_Armstrong 17 April 2014 11:28:43AM 1 point [-]

In general. When making predictions about AI, no matter how convincing they seem to us, we should remember all the wrong predictions that felt very convincing to past people for reasons that were very reasonable at the time.

Comment author: Stuart_Armstrong 17 April 2014 11:23:43AM 0 points [-]

6 is before striking against humans, 4 is after.

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 17 April 2014 10:45:22AM *  5 points [-]

Because it's a group of people who are excited for years about a rule for calculating conditional probability?

Yeah, I'm not serious here, but I will use this to illustrate the problem with self-diagnosis based on a description. Without hard facts, or without being aware how exactly the distibution in the population looks like, it's like reading a horoscope.

Do I feel emotions? Uhm, yes. Easily? Uhm, sometimes. More deeply than others? Uhm, depends. For longer than others? I don't have good data, so, uhm, maybe. OMG, I'm a total psycho!!!

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 17 April 2014 10:36:03AM *  7 points [-]

Perhaps we could be more specific about the social / political skills. I am probably not good at these skills, but here are a few things I have noticed:

Some of your colleagues have a connection between them unrelated to the work, usually preceding it. (Former classmates. Relatives; not necessarily having the same surname. Dating each other. Dating the other person's family member. Members of the same religious group. Etc.) This can be a strong emotional bond which may override their judgement of the other person's competence. So for example, if one of them is your superior, and the other is your incompetent colleague you have to cooperate with, that's a dangerous situation, and you may not even be aware of it. -- I wish I knew the recommended solution. My approach is to pay attention to company gossip, and to be careful around people who are clearly incompetent and yet not fired. And then I try to take roles where I don't need their outputs as inputs for my work (which can be difficult, because incompetent people are very likely to be in positions where they don't deliver the final product, as if either they or the company were aware of the situation on some level).

If someone complains about everything, that is a red flag; this person probably causes the problems, or at least contributes to them. On the other hand, if someone says everything is great and seems like they mean it, that's possibly also a red flag; it could be a person whose mistakes have to be fixed by someone else (e.g. because of the reasons mentioned in the previous paragraph), and that someone else could become you.

Extra red flag is a person who makes a lot of decisions and yet refuses to provide any of them in a written form. (Here, "written form" includes a company e-mail, or generally anything that you could later show to a third party. For example in the case when the person insists on something really stupid, things get horribly wrong, and then suddenly the person says it was actually your idea.) -- One nice trick is to send them an e-mail containing the decisions they gave you, and say something like "here is the summary of our meeting; please confirm if it's correct, or please correct me if I'm not".

Sometimes a person becomes an informational bottleneck between two parts of the company. That could happen naturally, or could be a strategy on their part. In such case, try to find some informal parallel channels to the other part of the graph. Do it especially if you are discouraged by the given person from doing so. For example, if they say the other part is stupid and blames them for all troubles of your part. (Guess what: He is probably telling them the same thing about your part. So now he is the only person the whole company trusts to fight for their best interests against the other stupid part.)

Okay, this was all the dark side. From the light side, being nice to people and having small talk with them is generally useful. Remember facts about them, make notes if necessary (not in front of them). Make sure you connect with everyone at least once in a while, instead of staying within your small circle of comfort.

Comment author: thanatv 17 April 2014 10:19:25AM 0 points [-]

Interesting points made there!

However, I believe there is a simple reason which explains the higher pay amongst economics majors; it is just the nature of the jobs they go on to do. As in previous discussions, it is clear that a lot of economics majors go on to the financial sector, many to investment banking.

Say, for example, an investment bank might be advising on a merger deal worth $5bn, and even if their fees is just 1%, that is still $50m coming into the bank. Multiply this by the number of deals they do, and that's a lot of money earned within the firm, and to be paid to their employees. If you also consider the buy-side e.g. private equity, hedge funds, where the nature of the job deals with huge sums of money e.g. $30bn in assets under management for a substantial sized fund, and say management fees are a humble 2%, that's still $600m to be shared between employees within the firm (which there isn't that many compared to other fields).

Now if you consider a different liberal arts majors' profession e.g. History or Psychology, you'll be dealing more with things on a much smaller scale financially, as you are now dealing more with things which does not involve huge cash flows as a nature of it (unlike corporate transactions or investments). So because of the nature of the profession, there will be less money to go around the employees, and even though you might be earning a bigger percentage of the firm's revenue, it may not be as much as the bankers and financiers.

The point is that the skills among economics majors compliments greatly, job industries such as banking, finance, consulting, research, etc. just like skills in an English major would compliment journalism, or a history major would compliment historical research. It just so happens that the economics majors 'professions' deal with transactions where a lot of money is involved, hence they would earn significantly more compared to other professions.

Comment author: ChristianKl 17 April 2014 08:02:43AM 1 point [-]

http://lesswrong.com/lw/jsp/political_skills_which_increase_income/ is an article by a LessWrong person that lists factors. Political abilities are important. That means signal modesty, making apologies when necessary and flattering people above you in the chain of command.

Comment author: MattG 17 April 2014 06:35:47AM 2 points [-]

Will add this to my list of ed-tech start-up ideas to validate.

Comment author: MattG 17 April 2014 06:28:46AM 0 points [-]

/If by that you mean a terminal value, then I don't think humans really differ much in terms of terminal values\

Why?

Comment author: DeeElf 17 April 2014 05:22:13AM 1 point [-]

Feyerabend's counterinduction and Bayesianism. Has anyone here thought about how these two views of science bear on each other?

Comment author: Risto_Saarelma 17 April 2014 04:50:04AM 0 points [-]

They're defined more by being influential, and reading them is more about gaining a better understanding of the context of literature: its history and the mechanics of its evolution.

I'm not disagreeing. The main point is that the literature canon is the most influential starting point for discussing literature that's considered really very good. Not that the books themselves would necessarily be the best ever.

And for the purposes of the original discussion, it's not even necessary to find the absolutely best literature ever, only examples of literature that can be considered significantly more skillfully put together than top of the line fanfiction. The Western canon probably manages this.

People like Shakespeare are to English literature what people like Aristotle are to Western philosophy: not the best by some set of quasi-objective standards, nor the most gratifying to taste, but the headwaters from which later traditions flow.

Is this actually the case? Philosophers seem to consider Aristotle really influential and quite outdated, while English lit. people who aren't decrying him as a dead white male patriarchal oppressor still seem to think Shakespeare was probably the greatest thing ever.

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