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Comment author: ChristianKl 23 July 2014 01:38:12PM 0 points [-]

It seems to me that when people caution against politicizing the issue, they usually mean not that the issue itself (level 1) should not be thought about, but rather that the issue shouldn't be in the preimage of politics, i.e. methods of politics, style of thinking that is usually used in politics are probably not the right way to approach it (level 2) and other styles of thinking (e.g. economics, game theory) should be used instead. An

I don't think that game theory is inherently a different style than politics. If it isn't than game theory itself would be useless anyway because it couldn't predict how political actors make their decisions.

Comment author: paper-machine 23 July 2014 01:06:07PM *  0 points [-]

"I don't know": About a hundred times in 14 months.

Comment author: ChristianKl 23 July 2014 12:54:05PM 0 points [-]

The accuracy of a test is generally defined as (Σ True positive + Σ True negative/Σ Total population). That something different then the sensitivity of a test.

I think it's useful to use the terms used in the statistical literature when talking about something like this instead of making up vague one on your own.

Comment author: wedrifid 23 July 2014 12:42:13PM 0 points [-]

That was one of the best practical analyses of human 'morality' in practice that I've ever seen (at the comment level).

The standard disclaimer here is that all human social behaviour described in terms of the pragmatic motivations and cause and effect will tend to sound abhorrent to the majority of the people who are deeply embedded into the game. Or, I should say, it will sound incomprehensible to the majority of people but among those sufficiently intelligent and literate it will sound abhorrent (or sometimes merely uncouth or banal).

Villiam would have no trouble describing the political activism inherent in his own comment in similar crude terms. By my interpretation the lesson here isn't "Daenerys is bad" but instead it is a foundational primer on moral politics. To the extent that message is lost because it happens to be on one side of a political battle I again curse the Mind Killer.

Comment author: David_Gerard 23 July 2014 12:37:06PM *  -1 points [-]

...uhm... does this make it more clear how this is "political"?

Yes, but only in the sense that pretty much everything that impacts real life is political.

The other problem is when people have discussions they consider "nonpolitical", but other people consider "political". You'll see this one play out on techie sites quite a lot.

Comment author: polymathwannabe 23 July 2014 12:27:45PM 0 points [-]

Accurately detecting a cancer that does exist.

Comment author: army1987 23 July 2014 11:49:07AM 0 points [-]

A more precise description of the Italian system is: if the centre-right coalition comprises 40% of the parliament, the centre-left coalition comprises 45% of the parliament, and the lone contrarian party comprises 15% of the parliament, then the lone contrarian party gets to decide everything (except questions on which the centre-right coalition and the centre-left coalition agree, which aren't likely to be voted on in the parliament in the first place) without needing to be in a coalition, and hence without needing to be sane enough to be in a coalition. (BTW, nobody actually likes the centre-right coalition or the centre-left coalition: people vote for the centre-right coalition just because they dislike the centre-left coalition and don't want it to get a plurality of seats and vice versa.)

(I'm not familiar with German politics so I don't know what prevents this dynamic from occurring there too.)

Comment author: army1987 23 July 2014 11:38:40AM 0 points [-]

I'm going to partially agree with both of you and say that, whereas certain social circles and workplaces do contain many fewer evil people than others, it's not easy for certain people to change social circle or workplace in certain circumstances.

Comment author: wedrifid 23 July 2014 11:30:14AM *  2 points [-]

‘Hard Mode’ lets you speak as the Humble Aspirant rather than the Aloof Superior. Strive to convey: ‘I’m worried I’m too low-level to participate in this discussion; could you have it somewhere else?’ Or: ‘Could we talk about something closer to Easy Mode, so we can level up together?’

Playing humble and stroking other people's egos is an often useful tool for influencing others. But it is far from generally applicable and remarkably prone to backfiring when people do not already perceive you as such. People sometimes see it as condescending, which they should because that's precisely and literally what it is.

Pick an influence and signalling strategy that actually works for you when you use it and (where possible and sufficiently convenient) conveys what you actually mean.

When people start debating notoriously political subjects using the same tired, shoddy motivated cognition that I've seen a hundred times before I have no particular inclination to convey "I'm worried I'm too low-level to participate". I'm not going to participate in such conversations for the same reason I try not to feed trolls. It would be outright dishonest to pretend that I considered myself unable to participate in the conversations when the actual message is that the conversation is a disgrace, completely at odds with the core value of the site and makes most of the participants look utterly stupid.

"Politics is the mind-killer" at least avoids the all too common Fundamental Attribution Error. That is, it rightly attributes the failure to think coherently to the circumstance rather than ascribing intellectual incompetence to the particular individuals.

Comment author: qsz 23 July 2014 11:05:23AM 1 point [-]

Regarding your first point: if your immediate next-of-kin is unable to take care of things, do you trust whoever is next-nearest to respect your wishes? How confident are you that this will still be the case after time (t) has passed?

My experience with a few friends and relatives: often such informal estate planning is done as a one-off, in a moment of forward thinking, and then left as is, sometimes for years. Unexpected changes in the views of the next of kin (in my family's case, various religious conversions) led to all kinds of family disputes related to different opinions about what the desires and intentions of the deceased might have been - and whether they are even relevant if none were formally expressed.

Comment author: RobbBB 23 July 2014 11:03:36AM *  -1 points [-]

It sounds like we agree it'd be bad for LW to go political, but we're worrying about different scenarios. Some of my concerns:

  • 'Politics is the mind-killer', as most people use it, carries approximately the same content as 'boo politics'. If one of LW's top catchphrases is 'boo politics!', we're more likely to alienate people with the connections and expertise needed to handle politically charged blow-ups, group dynamics, etc. well. From what I can tell, when organizations, communities, and movements avoid getting dragged through the mud due to misinformation being circulated online, it's frequently because they have friends who are skilled or connected e.g. at social media, diplomacy / PR.

Having fully general counterarguments against your hated enemies, and lots of blog posts readying your troops for battle with those hated enemies, is not generally a winning way to avoid getting into lots of messy time-wasting fights. On my understanding, cultivating targeted social skills/habits (for preventing, diffusing, and redirecting conflict) and allies/connections works better.

  • If one of LW's top catchphrases is 'boo politics!', we'll thereby by setting ourselves up as the Anti-Politics Tribe, a hated enemy of the Politics Tribes. The Politics Tribes are precisely the people we're trying to avoid picking fights with, especially not fights framed as tribalistic no-holds-barred absolutist sloganeering shouting matches.

Going meta is not a secure safeguard; it just means that any political partisan or activist community can potentially object or take offense, since we're now talking about politics as a totality.

most of the people who say we're "arrogant" will find a reason to think so no matter how we phrase things.

That's not my experience, but if that's true, then a lot of the people I'm interested in building ties to are in that high-value has-a-nuanced-position minority. My own opinion of LW shifts up and down by increments based on how nice I see people being, and I see a lot of my friends fluctuating up and down in opinion based on incidents like 'this person condescended to me', 'I read this extremely insightful blog post', etc.

Comment author: savageorange 23 July 2014 11:01:13AM *  0 points [-]

We don't just use 'winning' because, well.. 'winning' can easily work out to 'losing' in real world terms. (think of a person who alienates everyone they meet through their extreme competitiveness. They are focused on winning, to the point that they sacrifice good relations with people. But this is both a) not what is meant by 'rationalists win' and b) a highly accessible definition of winning - naive "Competition X exists. Agent A wins, Agent B loses"). VASTLY more accessible than 'achieving what actually improves your life, as opposed to what you merely want or are under pressure to achieve'

I'd like to use the word 'winning', but I think it conveys even less of the intended meaning than 'rationality' to the average person.

Comment author: ChristianKl 23 July 2014 10:26:54AM *  0 points [-]

Happiness can mean quite a lot of different things to different people. Even in the a single culture like the US the average 25 year old means something different with the term than the average 50 year old.

The article makes it even more worse by conflating joy and happiness. Furthermore translation of words over cultural boundaries is going to add additional challenges.

Comment author: RobbBB 23 July 2014 10:24:32AM 0 points [-]

I'm not claiming LW is outlawing politics. I cited daenerys because Scott used her posts as examples of things that don't belong on LW because it's overly political. I'm also not claiming LW shouldn't go ahead and outlaw politics -- just noting that we'd have to be very careful about how we define 'politics' and how we implement such a policy.

Comment author: ChristianKl 23 July 2014 10:18:08AM 0 points [-]

If you look at the number 2045 you will find that it comes from a roadmap of a Russian billionaire. Making roadmaps can be useful because the can guide action. Especially if a billionaire wants to use his funds in a way that keeps him alive.

Two, you can't tell if a longevity breakthrough has occurred any faster than the rate at which humans happen to live.

That's false. The number 2045 comes from a plan to be able to upload humans completely by that point and not be subject to biological concerns anymore.

And three, why all the focus on this century for people who aspire to live a lot longer than normal?

If we don't get things right in this century we won't live in the next. We do have to focus on this century if we want to experience the next.

It doesn't make much sense to ask why questions in cases like this without seeing the context in which people make their statements.

Comment author: FeepingCreature 23 July 2014 10:17:25AM 0 points [-]

Seems wrong. Omega wouldn't necessarily have to simulate the universe, although that's one option.

The other options work out the same as simulating the universe for the purpose of telling you how you should decide to behave, but "simulating the universe" makes it visceral and easy to imagine.

Comment author: ChristianKl 23 July 2014 10:03:24AM 0 points [-]

What does "success rate" mean?

Comment author: ChristianKl 23 July 2014 09:46:33AM 1 point [-]

Yes, and Eliezer's post about politics is the mind-killer doesn't argue that there should be no political discussions on LW. Just don't use political examples when you are not wanting to make a political point.

Comment author: ChristianKl 23 July 2014 09:39:52AM 0 points [-]

Even if you ignore the tribalism problem, politics is still a giant black hole for cognition. 90% of people gain nothing more than entertainment from thinking or talking about it. It's a mind killer in terms of opportunity costs.

I think you underrate the difference between politicians who feel like they are accountable to a public that watches their actions and politicians who don't.

Comment author: ChristianKl 23 July 2014 09:38:34AM *  1 point [-]

The debate is not about politicians getting mind-killed but mainly about normal people getting mind-killed. The fact that a professional politician manages to think clearly doesn't indicate that the average person on the street also thinks clearly.

At the moment I'm having a facebook discussion with a German friend (I'm also German) who thinks that the US is definitely responsible for shooting down that plane in the Ukraine.

While it's possible, it's also plausible that the rebels simply wanted to shoot down a military plane and mistakenly hit the civilian aircraft. I do think "mind-killed" is a pretty good description for that behavior.

In the city of Berlin a few years ago the Berlin government wanted to have a database with the names of all students and with schools the student goes to. There are cases where a student get's accepted in two schools and then both schools run with a higher head count and the schools are late in reporting back that they have a lower student count. That makes it harder for the central school administration to distribute teachers so the central school administration wants a database with student names and their school.

The German pirate party opposed that program because it's about centralized storage of personal data and all centralized storage of personal data is supposed to be fought. I also think that the label "mind-killed" is fitting at that point.

There also quite good experimental evidence that people who can successfully use Bayes theorem when given non-political examples with numbers fail to use it when given political examples with are otherwise identical. I have no reason to doubt that only happens with Americans who think about politics and that it doesn't happen in Germany.

Here parties need to be in coalitions in order to get majorities; so they need to remain on speaking terms and know each others positions well enough to find compromises.

That's not much different than the US. In the US bills usually net support from some senators of both parties to avoid getting filibustered.

A big difference in Germany is that we don't have privately funded political TV ads. We also have political parties where a politician has to explain himself to other members of his party to get on the party list to get elected. US politicians instead have to convince private donors to fund their campaign.

Comment author: V_V 23 July 2014 09:35:13AM 0 points [-]

Europe could either side with Ukraine and boycott the Russian natural gas, at a huge cost, or side with Russia and force Ukraine into submission by political and economic isolation, effectively rewarding the Russian expansionist attitudes.
Looks like a catch-22 scenario.

Or Europe could just do nothing, except maybe avoiding to fly its planes on top of the war zone, which is pretty much what is actually happening now.

It doesn't look like there is an easy solution to this problem.
After all, if politics was easy it wouldn't be politics.

Comment author: twanvl 23 July 2014 09:29:12AM 0 points [-]

I do not agree. Consider these payoffs for the same game: ...

Different payoffs imply a different game. But even in this different game, the simultaneous move version would be equivalent. With regards to choosing between X and Y, the existence of choice A still doesn't matter, because if player 1 chose A X and Y have the same payoff. The only difference is how much player 2 knows about what player 1 did, and therefore how much player 2 knows about the payoff he can expect. But that doesn't affect his strategy or the payoff that he gets in the end.

Comment author: ESRogs 23 July 2014 09:22:45AM *  0 points [-]

Eliezer, would your ideas from this post apply here?

There could be many acceptable negotiating equilibria between what you think is the 'fair' point on the Pareto boundary, and the Nash equilibrium. So long as each step down in what you think is 'fairness' reduces the total payoff to the other agent, even if it reduces your own payoff even more.

If I'm not too confused, the Nash equilibrium is [P1: A], and the Pareto boundary extends from [P1: B, P2: Y] to [P1: C, P2: Y]. So the gains from trade give P1 1-3 extra points, and P2 0-2 extra points. As others have pointed out, a case could be made for [P1: C, P2: Y], as it maximizes the total gains from trade, but maybe, taking your idea of different concepts of fairness from the linked post, P2 should hold P1 hostage by playing some kind of mixed X,Y strategy unless P1 offers a "more fair" split.

Is that behavior by B the kind of thing that the reasoning in the linked post endorses?

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 23 July 2014 09:20:12AM *  1 point [-]

I am a member of a political tribe. We believe that there exists a powerful opposing tribe that oppresses women. Our proposed solution is to give more power to members of our tribe, so that we can improve the situation for women.

(The analysis of the oppression of women may be correct, incorrect, or partially correct. However, as a rational member of homo sapiens I should be aware that I run on a corrupted hardware which has "...and therefore my tribe should be given more power" pretty much hardwired as the bottom line, so any analysis that leads to this conclusion has a decent chance to be a rationalization.)

Our preferred way of getting more power is preventing the members of the opposing tribe from expressing their opinions, and punishing them if they do. I demand that LW make this a community norm. LW refuses to comply. I realize that LW is not automatically my ally. So I try to find an argument that will make LW believe that the best way to reach their goals is to give my tribe more power.

One strategy that our tribe uses successfully a lot is to focus on the experiences of women, excluding the experiences of men. The strategy works, because if women really have a worse situation, this will make it visible, but even if both women and men have a bad situation, only the bad situation of women will be visible, so we will still get the impression that women have it worse. Also, by focusing on "women have it bad" part we are taking attention away from a debate whether giving our tribe more power is really the optimal solution for helping women.

(There are also known ways to react to an opposition here: If someone tries to include the experiences of men, we accuse them of derailing the debate. Or claim that this is not an "opression olympics", although in fact it is actually an oppression olympics where only one side is allowed to participate.)

So, I ask women on LW to send me anonymously their stories, and I publish them in a series of articles. This is the strategy that works, and it also helps to establish me as a speaker for these women. As much as LW members care about their fellow female readers, I can now start making demands in their name, even without their explicit support for my specific demands, because that part is already implied connotationally.

...uhm... does this make it more clear how this is "political"?

On the surface, it is about helping women. But the only acceptable way of helping women, the only strategy worth debating, is to give my tribe more power.

(One way to realize this is to imagine whether I would be satisfied if suddenly a lot of women would become high-status on LW, but none of them would be a member of my tribe. Imagine one smart neoreactionary lady, one smart bio-realist lady, and dozen smart ladies who refuse to take any political sides because they believe that politics is the mindkiller. All of them writing great, highly upvoted articles, and having a lot of support in the discussion; not hiding their feminity, but also not making it a political argument for anything.)

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 23 July 2014 08:32:38AM 0 points [-]

I think that secret happiness is a real thing. Some people take pleasure in complaining, enjoy being passively aggressive about something, etc., but of course they would publicly deny it.

On the other hand, I agree that in some situations, unhappiness may be adaptive. Evolution does not care about our values.

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 23 July 2014 08:11:10AM 0 points [-]

given that there are already several websites with the set of characteristics that are needed to make you procrastinate, having one more or one less won't make a difference.

I completely agree with this. For example, before I was spending my time reading LW, I was spending my time reading something else. So while it is true that I use LW mostly to procrastinate, it does not mean that LW made my time use somehow less efficient. (Depending on whether my translation of Sequences can be considered a useful work, LW probably made me a bit more efficient. However, I would prefer to see some increased efficiency also in LW-unrelated stuff.) If I'm going to spend my time reading the web instead of doing something else, I can at least read higher-quality stuff.

As a discussion board, I would probably recommend using PHPBB. It is easy to install, and it has a lot of configuration options: using an admin menu you can create new subforums in seconds, make them read-only, or only for members, etc. (It does not have the voting mechanism like Reddit / LessWrong. However, with Reddit / LessWrong software even trivial changes are extremely costly.) Just try PHPBB, and in worst case, you will later delete it and try something else.

Comment author: ESRogs 23 July 2014 07:27:59AM *  0 points [-]

Unless you're orders of magnitude wealthier than I think you are, your exposure to an opaque illiquid minor hard-to-price asset like domain names should look more like $10 than $100,000.

Last I read you said you'd made more money buying bitcoins than you had doing anything else, and you still hadn't sold any. Has that changed?

~~Edit: went looking for the comment I remembered reading and didn't find it, but I did find this comment where you mention advising someone else to diversify out of bitcoins. So that makes me think either a) I misremembered what you said, b) you advised others to diversify, but stayed heavily invested yourself, or c) you had made the claims I remembered, but diversified shortly thereafter.~~ [doesn't double-tilde do strikethrough?]

Edit2: Found it.

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 23 July 2014 07:06:25AM 0 points [-]

This sounds like a good question for a political prediction market: Assuming that Putin succeeds to conquer the part of Ukraine he wants, how many years will pass until Russia attacks another country? Which one will be next?

(Possibly relevant data point: Transnistria.)

Since I don't know much about internal power balance and conflicts within Russia, I would only make the rather obvious bet, that the next country will almost certainly be a member of the former Soviet Union.

Comment author: Kaj_Sotala 23 July 2014 07:05:43AM 0 points [-]

Also, people want to be near their friends, and the easiest way to be close to a lot of people is to live in a big city.

I would actually expect that communications technologies accelerate the urbanization process, since it makes it easier to make geographically distant friends online, and then you become more likely to want to move to where they live.

Comment author: ShardPhoenix 23 July 2014 07:02:00AM *  0 points [-]

If your first paragraph was true, wouldn't people continue to feel happy but just not show it? I feel like unhappiness must be adaptive (even without considering social effects) at least in some cases.

Comment author: ShardPhoenix 23 July 2014 06:58:53AM *  2 points [-]

This comes across as off-puttingly pretentious to me. How are you going to prove that people should care what you recommend?

Also, I find the combination of a tiny default font and off-black text to be hard to read.

Comment author: Kaj_Sotala 23 July 2014 06:52:26AM *  2 points [-]

The Ethereum pre-sale has begun.

Given that Ethereum is explicitly designed as a platform for distributed decentralized applications, it seems to me like it could be the next big cryptocurrency after Bitcoin. I'm not terribly confident in this assessment, however. Do people here have an opinion on how likely it is that it'd be the "next tech gold rush"?

Comment author: wedrifid 23 July 2014 06:44:40AM 0 points [-]

I clicked on this post initially because I saw "Politics Is Hard Mode" expecting any one of:

  • An analysis of the difficulty of optimising decisions as a function of the number of participants.
  • A comparison between human competency at social politics and other far more simple 'intelligence' requiring tasks like arithmetic, logic, calculus and general relativity.
  • A 'comparative advantage' angle that considers things like the likelyhood of low hanging fruit existing in an area that most of the billions of humans that have ever existed have spent their life (and no small part of the selection pressure of their death and procreation) obsessed with optimising. (In the 'revealed preferences' sense.)
  • Some practical, useful explanation of politics that could be applied in our lives while also showing at least part of the enormity of the task.

Instead I got a boring argument about which word 'we should' use. On that question shminux and Yvain have explained the problems with the proposed change and I agree completely with each of their points.

Comment author: Algernoq 23 July 2014 06:35:47AM *  0 points [-]

I mean that I doubt your assessment of the situation.

I'm claiming is that people have tried to take advantage of me, including the examples I gave above, as well as every car salesman I've ever met. It's not a high percentage -- most people are good/neutral -- but there are some people who are mildly amused by trying to hurt me.

What are you trying to prove? Why is it so important to you that the world is...what? Free of evil intent in your immediate social circle? Free of injustice affecting people you consider your peers?

It sounds like you're twisting my words to fit your worldview, and trying to make me doubt my sanity.

You were not talking about meeting some sociopaths.
I doubt your capability to evaluate the situation in an unbiased way.
"Sociopath" is a clinical diagnosis, are you sure you're qualified to make it?
You don't interact with the whole society.

Who is truly unbiased and therefore in your view able to make reliable decisions? How sociopathic would an example have to be to meet your arbitrary criteria? Are you proposing I stop interacting with unknown people?

Do you want to be better? Do you want the truth, or not?

I want you to acknowledge that the people in the examples I gave more likely than not tried to hurt me for reasons including their own amusement.

This is important as a first step toward talking about solutions. I want better solutions for negotiating with and ideally changing sociopathy, both personally as I advance in my career and encounter high-stakes situations more often, and for my own dreams of world improvement.

I also wanted to get confirmation that other people have similar problems with sociopaths

One data point for you -- I don't.

Given the base rate for these things, it appears that you're choosing to ignore information so you don't feel obligated to deal with it.

To change your mind, among other options, I could tell you some true stories about people who are much richer than you taking advantage of people in your class.

Also, it sounds like your goal is to increase your status by bashing my position, not actually resolving the issue.

(Suggesting) that relationships do not cross status (class) boundaries?

Yes, because these relationships are risky for the lower-status person, and impose externalities on others. Social mobility is provided by education, skill, etc. -- I'm not proposing hereditary classes.

It sounds like you're OK with polyamory with status differences. In that case, it appears the "winning" strategy is to build a harem of lower-status partners. This approach is arguably good for the individual but bad for others (less investment in children, more crime by low-status men who can't get sex, leads to infighting within the harem). For example, several Google executives are in open relationships with a wife who'd rather be monogamous plus some more attractive young people, and several players I know usually have a few partners at any one time. As there's no incentive for the players to be honest, this imposes costs on others.

How much sociopathy do you see in your community? None? Why is this important to you? Why is your community different from the average community with equivalent wealth/background?

Comment author: Azathoth123 23 July 2014 06:04:04AM 0 points [-]

Robb's link goes to Miri's blog and not the specific post. As such I was going through the history looking for the post in question. Most of Miri's blog posts consist of her getting horribly mind-killed about gender issues, with the occasional post on a topic not related to gender which shows that she is perfectly capable of better quality thought when not being mind-killed.

Comment author: Punoxysm 23 July 2014 05:48:15AM 0 points [-]

Every point you made (0)-(5) is correct!

(0) There are some social scientists, especially in political science, who are focused on applying machine learning and text mining methods to political texts. This is a big movement and it's under the heading "text as data". Most publications use fairly simple methods, basically calibrated regressions, but a lot of thought went into choosing those and some of the people publishing are mathematically sophisticated.

Example: http://www.justingrimmer.org/

Another prominent example comes in Social Networks, where people from the CS and physics world work on the social side, and some social scientists use the methodology too.

Example: http://cs.stanford.edu/people/jure/

At the Santa Fe institute people from all kinds of disciplines do all kind of stuff, but an overall theme is methods drawing from math and physics applied to social sciences. This include networks, statistical physics, and game theory.

Not exactly social science, but Jennifer Dunne applies network analysis to food webs: http://www.santafe.edu/about/people/profile/Jennifer%20A.%20Dunne

I am certain that cutting edge mathematics and ML are applied in pockets of econometrics too. Finance is often in economics departments and ML has thoroughly invaded that, but I admit that's a stretch.

(1) Social science academics have only recently gained access to large datasets. Especially in survey-based fields like sociology and experimental psychology, small-data-oriented methods are definitely the focus. Large datasets include medical datasets, to the extent that they have access; various massive text repositories including academic paper databases and online datasets; and a very few surveys that have the size and depth to support fancier analyses.

This applies less to probit and more to clustering, bayes nets, decision trees, etc.

(2) The culture is definitely conservative. I've talked to many people interested in the more advanced methods and they have to fight harder to get published; but the tide is changing.

(3) Absolutely. It's very hard to figure out what coefficients represent when data is ambiguous and many factors are highly correlated (as they are in social science) and when the model is very possibly misspecified. Clusterings with "high score" from most methods can be completely spurious and it take advanced statistical knowledge to identify this. ML is good for prediction and classification, but this is very rarely the goal of social scientists (though one can imagine how it could be). SVMs and decision trees do a poor job of extracting causal relationships with any certainty.

(4) Again, the culture is conservative and many don't have these training. A good number know their way around R though, and newer ones often come in with quite a bit of stats/CS knowledge. The amount of statistical knowledge in the social sciences is growing fast.

(5) Yes; this is especially true of something like neural networks.

Comment author: Punoxysm 23 July 2014 05:12:20AM 0 points [-]

No, I'm just saying that since in your particular example Player 2 is indifferent when Player 1 chooses A, the fact that they don't get a decision doesn't matter. Nothing to do with TDT.

Comment author: LimberLarry 23 July 2014 05:11:49AM 0 points [-]

You seem to be treating the sub-problem, "what would Player 2 believe if he got a move" as if it is separate from and uninformed by Player 1's original choice. Assuming Player 1 is a utility-maximizer and Player 2 knows this, Player 2 immediately knows that if he gets a move, then Player 1 believed he could get greater utility from either option B or C than he could get from option A. As option B can never offer greater utility than option A, a rational Player 1 could never have selected it in preference to A. But of course that only leaves C as a possibility for Player 1 to have selected and Player 2 will select X and deny any utility to Player 1. So neither option B nor C can ever produce more utility than option A if both players are rational.

Comment author: LimberLarry 23 July 2014 04:48:14AM 0 points [-]

Exactly, but B is never a preferable option over A, so the only rational option is for Player 1 to have chosen A in the first place, so any circumstance in which Player 2 has a move necessitates an irrational Player 1. The probability of Player 1 ever selecting B to maximize utility is always 0.

Comment author: James_Miller 23 July 2014 04:37:11AM *  0 points [-]

We look at game theory in different ways. By my analysis it is irrelevant what Player 2 would get if A were played, it could be $1 trillion or -$1 trillion and it would have no impact on the game as I see it. But then I don't use timeless decision theory, and you might be. This could be the source of our disagreement.

Comment author: James_Miller 23 July 2014 04:34:32AM 0 points [-]

But this does not make sense because then player 1 will know that player 2 will play X, so Player 1 would have been better off playing A or B over C.

Comment author: djm 23 July 2014 04:30:42AM 1 point [-]

Good idea - it is also worth having a scan of the complete list of commands every few years. I did this after a "friend" spent half a day writing a C program to do something that was already an inbuild command - live and learn!

Comment author: deschutron 23 July 2014 03:56:03AM 0 points [-]

Created a Sound-Cloud account and shared some music I made with my reversible spectrogram program on it. Got feedback from budding musician work colleagues and checked out their music. So I encouraged them and they encouraged me. And I have experience publishing on one of those social network publishing sites. And when I die, something of me will be available for others to see.

Comment author: Lumifer 23 July 2014 03:52:15AM 1 point [-]

What do you mean?

I mean that I doubt your assessment of the situation. "Sociopath" is a clinical diagnosis, are you sure you're qualified to make it?

What do you mean? It sounds like you're just telling me to change my environment.

Why, yes, I do :-) Note that I do not blame you for society's problems. And neither do I tell you what you are feeling. But I did offer you a piece of advice -- to change your environment.

Do you know of a human society to join that does not contain sociopaths?

You don't interact with the whole society. You interact with your social circle and your co-workers.


My spelling problems are not that bad :-) I did mean hearsay.

A few percent is enough for most people to meet many sociopaths during their life.

You were not talking about meeting some sociopaths. You said "I'm tired of competing with sociopaths in dating and at work" -- that's goes quite a fair bit above and beyond the base rate.

It looks like you're ignoring evidence.

I don't have any evidence other than your assertions. I don't doubt your honesty but I doubt your capability to evaluate the situation in an unbiased way.

because other environments will also have sociopaths.

I don't have sociopaths either in my social circle or among my co-workers -- at least easily recognizable ones.

large status differentials are usually bad for the lower-status person in the relationship

Probably true, but I'm not sure what are you suggesting -- that relationships do not cross status (class) boundaries? That doesn't sound too appealing.

I also wanted to get confirmation that other people have similar problems with sociopaths and rape

One data point for you -- I don't.

Comment author: Joshua_Blaine 23 July 2014 03:20:32AM *  1 point [-]

Two TDT players have 3 plausible outcomes to me, it seems. This comes from my admittedly inexperienced intuitions, and not much rigorous math. The 1st two plausible points that occurred to me are 1)both players choose C,Y, with certainty, or 2)they sit at exactly the equilibrium for p1, giving him an expected payout of 3, and p2 an expected payout of .5. Both of these improve on the global utility payout of 3 that's gotten if p1 just chooses A (giving 6 and 3.5, respectively), which is a positive thing, right?

The argument that supports these possibilities isn't unfamiliar to TDT. p2 does not expect to be given a choice, except in the cases where p1 is using TDT, therefore she has the choice of Y, with a payout of 0, or not having been given a chance to chose at all. Both of these possibilities have no payout, so p2 is neutral about what choice to make, therefore choosing Y makes some sense. Alternatively, Y has to choose between A for 3 or C for p(.5)*(6), which have the same payout. C, however, gives p2 .5 more utility than she'd otherwise get, so it makes some sense for p1 to pick C.

Alternatively, and what occurred to me last, both these agents have some way to equally share their "profit" over Classical Decision Theory. For however much more utility than 3 p1 gets, p2 gets the same amount. This payoff point (p1-3=p2) does exists, but I'm not sure where it is without doing more math. Is this a well formulated game theoretic concept? I don't know, but it makes some sense to my idea of "fairness", and the kind of point two well-formulated agents should converge on.

Comment author: Aoi 23 July 2014 02:48:12AM 0 points [-]

Fixed. Thanks.

Comment author: Aoi 23 July 2014 02:47:45AM 0 points [-]

Yeah, I'll see if I write something there. The problem is that I hate writing, so I tend to put quotes everywhere instead.

it might be a better idea to shift away from the first person personal in your writing.

I will. The portions I've written more recently already make use of the editorial We. I'll fix the rest as I find them.

Comment author: Aoi 23 July 2014 02:46:22AM *  1 point [-]

I understand what you're saying, but there are several reasons why I still think a community would be a good thing. The first is that it will help with my job of selecting content. Currently the process involve myself spending way too much time on sites like Hacker News and Reddit, and having a discussion board where people can post content specifically for the inclusion on the main site would help immensely.

Secondly, one of the defining features of the community (hopefully) will be a high signal/noise ratio. The tentative name for it is "Silence" to emphasize that. The main site already features several essays that should help with having the right mentality when participating to keep S/N high.

The plan is to have the link to the community portion of the site buried in the Communication section, so that people will already have read a good amount of stuff before finding it, and also explicitly telling them to read that whole page before participating.

You said yourself that if LessWrong went offline you would end up procrastinating somewhere else. I think this is true to the extent that there are other things you can do, that you would also be able to justify to yourself the time spent doing. You would never spend as much time watching cat videos as you do reading LessWrong. The problem with sites like LW is that they often give you the illusion that you're getting your time's worth even when you're not. There are many of them, so you'd have to black out all websites like that at the same time, but it would probably be fine to keep the cat sites up.

What I'm trying to say is that, given that there are already several websites with the set of characteristics that are needed to make you procrastinate, having one more or one less won't make a difference. So no, I'm not too worried about that. Furthermore, my site features a lot of content that contain that same sentiment of yours. For example the Noise section under Journalism or Confessions of a recovering lifehacker.

Anyway, I haven't elaborated on what I mean by building a community because I have a lot in mind and I'm not sure what I'm going to tackle first. I despise actual social networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, and I have ideas to make better alternatives. I also want to make something for children, because children have a lot of time and it would be well spent reading my collection of essays. A social media site that covers a broader range of subjects while keeping a high S/N and a Rationality flavor is something that I would love to have so I don't have to suffer with Reddit and Metafilter, etc, etc. The one thing I want ASAP is the discussion board mentioned in the first paragraph.

Comment author: Algernoq 23 July 2014 02:24:26AM *  4 points [-]

I have doubts that it is actually true

What do you mean? The conventional meaning of these words, in context, is to tell me that:

  1. I didn't see what I saw.

  2. I'm not tired of interacting with sociopaths.

To quote XKCD: "communicating badly and then acting smug when you're misunderstood is not cleverness. I hope we've learned something today."

you are dating wrong people and working at a wrong place

What do you mean? It sounds like you're just telling me to change my environment.

Do you know of a human society to join that does not contain sociopaths?

Do you know of a reliable way to identify sociopaths prior to interacting with them?

That's hearsay and it seems to me to be not too reliable...

Can you be more specific about how things that I observe firsthand are "heresy"?

How do you reconcile dismissing my statements with the base rate for sociopathy? A few percent is enough for most people to meet many sociopaths during their life.

So? Maybe they have an open relationship.
what does that have to do with sociopathy?
You recommendation was considered and rejected.

I disagree with each of these statements for obvious reasons. If you're not trolling, I would be happy to discuss further.

In summary:

  1. I believe I have met sociopaths. I believe the evidence strongly supports this. It looks like you're ignoring evidence. What is your motivation/goal here?

  2. The suggestion to change my environment is not useful, because other environments will also have sociopaths. I agree that avoiding unpleasant environments is bad in general.

  3. My earlier post was intended to say that large status differentials are usually bad for the lower-status person in the relationship, whether in poly- or mono- relationships. I also wanted to get confirmation that other people have similar problems with sociopaths and rape, and hopefully get ideas for addressing these from the unique perspective of LW. Both of these goals were apparently not communicated clearly.

Again, my goal was:

I'd like to see more "calm discussion" of status differentials in relationships, because a general solution here would address nearly all concerns about polyamory.

This seems to have failed.

I give you one karma in the spirit of the Iterated Prisoner's Dilemma.

Comment author: buybuydandavis 23 July 2014 01:59:14AM *  3 points [-]

I concur with the problem assessment: its social function in practice is to assure the group that other people's politics are mindkilled, whereas their own politics are just the normal background.

Maybe not. Only slightly more charitably, they may admit that they get mind killed in political arguments as well. Everyone does, there's no point in discussing it, no one will ever change their minds, etc.

That would be the usual taboo against arguing about strongly held views, whether religion, politics, morality, etc.

I'd emphasize that the phrase tends to only be applied to arguments with The Other, not discussions with Our Side, though logically the other side of the pancake would have the same issue. I predict that a lot of people who use the phrase against political discussion here, still have tons of political discussions with like minded people.

Fundamentally, it's a general memetic protection tactic, that successfully prevents serious encounters with conflicting memeplexes. Christianity has "never argue with the Devil, he's smarter than you and has had more practice in arguing". Other ideologies find similar strategies to keep the Bad Ideas away. The ideas that possess people, are the ones that work to keep them.

Comment author: DefectiveAlgorithm 23 July 2014 01:55:32AM 0 points [-]

I think this should get better and better for P1 the closer P1 gets to (2/3)C (1/3)B (without actually reaching it).

Comment author: Lumifer 23 July 2014 01:16:53AM -1 points [-]



ignored my evidence

Evidence? That's hearsay and it seems to me to be not too reliable...

blamed me for society's problems

I didn't blame you for society's problems. Quote, please.

you fell into the cognitive bias of incorrectly discounting unpleasant information

I don't find anything particularly unpleasant about your information and I don't have any triggers about discussing rape or sociopaths. Maybe you should project less onto other people.

don't tell me that I'm not feeling what I know I'm feeling.

I didn't tell you anything about your feelings. Quote, please.

Trustworthy mutual friends confirmed they had long-term partners and that they also cheated a lot.

So? Maybe they have an open relationship. Not to mention that cheating on your girlfriend is not a criterion for being a sociopath.

the technically competent senior engineer with average social skills was passed over for promotion in favor of a technically incompetent senior engineer who covers for his incompetence with posturing and salesmanship.

And what does that have to do with sociopathy?

Please update on this information

Sure. I've updated towards your perception of your environment not being adequate because you seem to be unhappy and angry with it.

I continue to recommend changing your environment, both dating and work.

I'd recommend an apology as well

You recommendation was considered and rejected.

Comment author: shminux 23 July 2014 01:12:33AM -2 points [-]

Yeah, I (and others) have been saying this here and elsewhere.

Comment author: Wei_Dai 23 July 2014 01:07:17AM 0 points [-]

I would have thought you did, based on your research.

No, my monetary policy views were firmly mainstream, which considers rapid unpredictable changes in prices, in either direction, to be a really bad thing for a currency. So I designed b-money to have a stable value relative to a basket of commodities, and until Bitcoin came along, never thought anyone might deliberately design a currency to have a fixed total supply.

Comment author: LimberLarry 23 July 2014 12:50:36AM 0 points [-]


Comment author: Punoxysm 23 July 2014 12:30:40AM 0 points [-]

I'm saying that Player 2's reward is strictly controlled by whatever fraction of the time player 1 plays B or C, since if player 1 plays A player 2's reward is guaranteed to be zero, and diminishes expected reward from X and Y in the same proportion.

If player 1 moves and when they pick either A,B or C player 2 is told "player 1 picked A, B or C" then player 2 can reduce it to only considering the possibility of B and C because even though A strictly dominates B, player 2's reward is only non-zero in the case where B or C are played.

This analysis would change if A,X were 3,0.5 or even 3,0.01

Comment author: Algernoq 23 July 2014 12:29:14AM -1 points [-]

In addition to disagreeing with Lumifer's position here for the obvious reasons stated below, I humbly submit that the up-votes on his comment above are evidence that "many LWers are not very rational". While I don't know what the base rate is for this, I hoped for better.

Comment author: Algernoq 23 July 2014 12:20:26AM *  0 points [-]

In addition to disagreeing with Lumifer's position here for the obvious reasons stated below, I humbly submit that the up-votes on his comment above are evidence that "many LWers are not very rational". While I don't know what the base rate is for this, I hoped for better.

Comment author: Algernoq 23 July 2014 12:07:35AM *  3 points [-]

Wow. You just:

  1. ignored my evidence

  2. blamed me for society's problems

More politely, you fell into the cognitive bias of incorrectly discounting unpleasant information.

This kind of shit is exactly what I've read rape victims have to put up with. People don't want to believe unpleasant things, and prefer to blame the victim's normal choices instead of recognizing that there's a problem.

If you actually have evidence to support me being unable to perceive the world accurately, please tell me what it is. Otherwise, don't tell me that I'm not feeling what I know I'm feeling.

Some of my specific examples:

I've met two sociopaths socially, coincidentally both management consultants. Trustworthy mutual friends confirmed they had long-term partners and that they also cheated a lot without regard for others' feelings. I also saw this personally: on different occasions I saw each of them with a long-term partner and with a short-term hookup. One of these people tried to seduce my long-term girlfriend, and the other tried to set me up with someone he was tired of hooking up with, without disclosing his involvement with her. Both of them failed, but it wasn't a sure thing in either case. This is an extreme example; more generally I don't like seeing people get lied to, and don't like competing in an environment where the baseline assumption is that the other people are emotionally-damaged liars (because the people with these issues tend to do the most dating). I'm also somewhat bothered that the social norm is generally to pretend not to know about cheating/lying in friends' relationships, because there's no positive reward to sharing the information.

At work, in my current job, the technically competent senior engineer with average social skills was passed over for promotion in favor of a technically incompetent senior engineer who covers for his incompetence with posturing and salesmanship. I'm also tired of frequent calls from salesmen who want me to pay 30% too much for something I don't need.

More generally, the structure of many organizations rewards sociopaths. Look up the MacLeod hierarchy for one popular theory.

Please update on this information, and let me know if you have any true or useful information that's relevant here. In other circumstances I'd recommend an apology as well, for following a conversational pattern that typically offends people and is factually incorrect.

Comment author: Algernoq 22 July 2014 11:35:25PM *  1 point [-]

You can't have (per-capita) economic growth without robots.

Robot owners get paid, and make things for other people using their robots.

Comment author: Manfred 22 July 2014 11:24:32PM 0 points [-]

They both involve a starting probability distribution modified by iterated consistency checks.

This part is a bit misleading because there's nothing special about having a starting distribution and updating it (thought that's definitely a bottom-up trait). It's also okay to create the logical probability function all at once, or through Monte Carlo sampling, or other weird stuff we haven't thought up yet.

Comment author: ZankerH 22 July 2014 11:08:22PM 1 point [-]

Idea: The concept of a great filter is a collective failure of imagination on the part of humanity, amplified by a severe lack of data.

Comment author: IlyaShpitser 22 July 2014 10:19:47PM *  0 points [-]

<This is a political discussion, usual litanies apply.>

War would be stupid, but in this case the West is simply unwilling to close ranks and make economic sacrifices to erect a Schelling point vs obvious misbehavior on the international stage. This should have been done before, and it should be done now. But the West cannot coordinate effectively unless forced vs large players like Russia or China. It was done vs Libya or South Africa, however.

The stuff in the Ukraine is not a trivial matter, it's a land grab war, 19th century style. We don't want to reach a new equilibrium where it is ok to do stuff like this. You might not care about this particular instance of the misbehavior, but that is not the same thing as the matter being trivial.

Open question for Moldbug fans in the audience: how do you feel about Putin and Putin's Russia? I am not planning to engage further on this, I am just curious.

</political discussion>

Comment author: James_Miller 22 July 2014 09:40:56PM *  1 point [-]

In a classical game all the players move simultaneously.

I'm not sure what you mean by "classical game" but my game is not a simultaneous move game. Many sequential move games do not have equivalent simultaneous move versions.

"I hope you agree that the fact that player 2 gets to make a (useless) move in the case that player 1 chooses A doesn't change the fundamentals of the game."

I do not agree. Consider these payoffs for the same game:

A 3,0 [And Player Two never got to move.]

B,X 2,10000

B,Y 2,2

C,X 0,1

C,Y 4,4

Now although Player 1 will never pick A, its existence is really important to the outcome by convincing Player 2 that if he moves C has been played.

Comment author: James_Miller 22 July 2014 09:33:38PM 0 points [-]

So are you saying that if Player 2 gets to move he will believe that Player 1 picked C?

Comment author: James_Miller 22 July 2014 09:30:34PM 0 points [-]

Your model doesn't incorporate the uncertainty of my game. Even if Player 2 knows that Player 1 didn't play A, the fact that he could have impacts his estimate of whether Player 1 picked B or C.

Comment author: James_Miller 22 July 2014 09:28:19PM 0 points [-]

Yes this is the same game, but you can not create a subgame that has B and C but not A.

Comment author: Tyrrell_McAllister 22 July 2014 09:24:47PM 0 points [-]

[Still arguing with tongue in cheek...]

That's where the measures p and q come in.

Comment author: David_Gerard 22 July 2014 08:55:19PM *  -1 points [-]

Define "political purpose" in this context, and distinguish from definition of "not a political purpose".

(Your response seems to pattern-match regarding their concern for problems that happen to them personally as "political" because those problems don't happen to you, but I can't point to anything that would let me reasonably directly assert that about you.)

Comment author: David_Gerard 22 July 2014 08:52:29PM 0 points [-]

Yeah, I mean it feels like the obvious results of clear thinking, even if it was effectively cut'n'pasted in.

Comment author: JGWeissman 22 July 2014 08:50:43PM 0 points [-]

"Rationality" seems to give different answer to the same problem posed with different affine transformations of the players' utility functions.

Comment author: sixes_and_sevens 22 July 2014 08:43:45PM 1 point [-]

Identity theft and general info-sec is obviously a concern, but the way I see it, I either trust someone to safeguard these details or I don't.

I can try and minimise the chances of the document being compromised. I briefly considered some sort of encrypted flash drive business, but I figure a hard-copy subject to physical security measures is probably a lot safer than something that can be drag-and-dropped onto a Windows Vista desktop. I can also minimise the amount of personally-identifying information in the document, so anyone obtaining the document without context wouldn't know who these various assets and policies applied to.

My plan is to produce two physical documents and give them to two geographically-disparate immediate family members for safekeeping.

Comment author: Tyrrell_McAllister 22 July 2014 08:39:07PM 0 points [-]

[Resuming my tongue-in-cheek argument...]

It is true that adding different utility functions is in general an error. However, for agents bound to follow Rationality (and Rationality alone), the different utility functions are best thought of as the same utility function conditioned on different hypotheses, where the different hypotheses look like "The utility to P2 turns out to be what really matters".

After all, if the agents are making their decisions on the basis of Rationality alone, then Rationality alone must have a utility function. Since Rationality is universal, the utility function must be universal. What alternative does Rationality have, given the constraints of the problem, other than a weighted sum of the utility functions of the different individuals who might turn out to matter?

Comment author: blacktrance 22 July 2014 08:28:49PM 1 point [-]

90% of people gain nothing more than entertainment from thinking or talking about it. It's a mind killer in terms of opportunity costs.

Does something being purely entertainment make it a mind-killer? If so, I'm not sure that something being a mind-killer is necessarily bad.

Comment author: RobbBB 22 July 2014 07:32:59PM 3 points [-]

I like this approach. Better still is 'it mind-kills me,' since 'it's the mind-killer' invites universal generalization and can always be read as a veiled attack. 'X is the stupidity-bringer' just isn't safe grammatically.

Comment author: JoeTheUser 22 July 2014 07:21:50PM -1 points [-]

There's no mathematical solution for single-player, non-zero sum games of any sort. All these constructs lead to is arguments about "what is rational". If you a full math model of a "rational entity", then you could get a mathematically defined solution.

This is why I prefer evolutionary game theory to classical game theory. Evolutionary game theory generally has models of its actors and thus guarantees a solution to the problems it posits. One can argue with the models and I would say that's where such arguments most fruitfully should be.

Comment author: JGWeissman 22 July 2014 07:21:32PM *  0 points [-]

Error: Adding values from different utility functions.

See this comment.

Comment author: army1987 22 July 2014 07:21:08PM 0 points [-]

<not serious>Clearly the 3% and 10 figures are given to within one significant digit each. 1.026^100 = 13.02</not serious>

Comment author: army1987 22 July 2014 07:15:49PM *  5 points [-]

Maybe the best thing for most LWers would be if Eliezer would simply turn off the whole website for a month, and only display a text "stop procrastinating, go out and win; the website will be back on September 1st when all of you are expected to report your progress in a special Thread". But would they hate it?

I would love that. Eliezer, please do this.

But yeah, I would spend the whole August reading old Unqualified Reservations comment threads or something like that (I don't fancy kitten videos).

Comment author: army1987 22 July 2014 07:10:26PM 0 points [-]

As I said: do you know how serious the offers are? Do you know why exactly weidai.com may be worth $100k?

I'm not sure what someone who wants to buy a domain name named after its current owner is thinking of doing with it, but I think there's a non-negligible chance it'd turn out to be something the namesake of the domain name wouldn't like at all.

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