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Open Thread, Feb 8 - Feb 15, 2016

4 Post author: Elo 08 February 2016 04:47AM

If it's worth saying, but not worth its own post (even in Discussion), then it goes here.


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Comments (215)

Comment author: Vaniver 08 February 2016 01:15:09PM 17 points [-]

Pearl has a new book out: Causal Inference in Statistics: A Primer (with Glymour and Jewell also as authors), already available on Kindle and paperback coming out the 26th. You can find the Table of Contents and chapter previews here.

At 150 pages, 4 chapters, and with homework exercises, this looks like the introductory causality work that I've wanted to exist for a few years.

Comment author: Jayson_Virissimo 13 February 2016 03:28:14AM *  3 points [-]

Just ordered it. Thank you.

EDIT: Paperback isn't expected to ship until 3/8/2016.

Comment author: ChristianKl 08 February 2016 02:37:28PM 2 points [-]

Do you suggest that people wanting to understand Pearl's work read that book before reading her older book?

Comment author: Vaniver 08 February 2016 03:23:26PM 5 points [-]

This is definitely meant to be read before his previous book.

Comment author: ChristianKl 08 February 2016 03:45:01PM 1 point [-]

Thanks for that straight answer.

Comment author: gwern 09 February 2016 04:20:44AM 0 points [-]

Sounds neat. I look forward to seeing what the reviews say.

Comment author: [deleted] 10 February 2016 10:00:28PM 3 points [-]

I've pre-ordered it, so expect a review in short order.

Comment author: RainbowSpacedancer 09 February 2016 05:52:23AM *  13 points [-]

I recently attended a 10 day intensive Vipassana meditation retreat. Would a write-up of the experience be something LWers are interested in as an article for discussion?

I had minimal to moderate experience in meditation before this but now feel much more comfortable with it. I can see potential rationality relevance through,

* Discipline
* Concentration
* Emotion and habit regulation
* Seeing reality as it is

If there is interest then I would appreciate it if someone is willing to look over a draft of the article for me as I haven't written for LW before.

Comment author: harshhpareek 09 February 2016 12:49:07PM 7 points [-]

I just attended one too! I am composing a post on this, about halfway done. I'd be interested in a collaboration where we both talk about our experiences, though I would like to see what you think. My post is laden with my own interpretations. Send me a message if you want to discuss once you have your outline down

Comment author: Elo 10 February 2016 11:13:31PM *  2 points [-]

look over a draft of the article

can do.

Comment author: Crux 10 February 2016 10:17:06PM 2 points [-]

I would absolutely be very interested. I think Vipassana meditation can be used as a very powerful rationality technique, and I'm always interested to read rationalists explain their experiences with it.

Comment author: Lumifer 09 February 2016 04:30:17PM 6 points [-]

A cautionary statement about betting on your beliefs from Tyler Cowen:

Bryan Caplan is pleased that he has won his bet with me, about whether unemployment will fall under five percent. ... The Benthamite side of me will pay Bryan gladly, as I don’t think I’ve ever had a ten dollar expenditure of mine produce such a boost in the utility of another person.

That said, I think this episode is a good example of what is wrong with betting on ideas. Betting tends to lock people into positions, gets them rooting for one outcome over another, it makes the denouement of the bet about the relative status of the people in question, and it produces a celebratory mindset in the victor. That lowers the quality of dialogue and also introspection, just as political campaigns lower the quality of various ideas — too much emphasis on the candidates and the competition.

Comment author: Viliam 09 February 2016 05:02:32PM 7 points [-]

Seems like a problem that could be solved by making more bets.

If you only make one bet, you have either 0% or 100% success rate, and neither reflects how good you actually are.

Comment author: gwern 09 February 2016 09:05:14PM *  7 points [-]

Yes. I can understand feeling locked in if you only make 1 bet every few years and it's extremely high profile, and you make it part of your identity. But I can't imagine feeling like that in any of my IEM or GJP trades (or even my PB predictions!), since I was taking positions in a number of markets and could regularly back off or take the other side when the price changed to something I disagreed with; there you are encouraged to disidentify with trades as much as possible and take an outside view where you're just making one of many calibrated predictions.

This is definitely a flaw of rare high-stakes high-transaction-cost interpersonal betting: they're good for calling 'bullshit!' but not so good for less charged broader aggregation and elicitation of views. This is something PB is good at, and a distributed prediction market might be even better at.

Comment author: Lumifer 09 February 2016 05:08:27PM 0 points [-]

Seems like a problem that could be solved by making more bets.

The problem is not finding out "how good you actually are". The problem is that making the bet locks you into a particular state of mind which involves more bias and less updating on evidence.

Comment author: Gunnar_Zarncke 09 February 2016 08:43:11PM 1 point [-]

But still if you do a lot of small betting instead of few large there you have less chance to lock yourself in a hole.

Comment author: bogus 09 February 2016 10:09:21PM 0 points [-]

The problem is that making the bet locks you into a particular state of mind which involves more bias and less updating on evidence.

It's not clear that this would be the case. Even if you're making only a few bets at a time (as opposed to participating in a liquid market), there will always be some odds at which you'll want to hedge the bet from the other side.

Comment author: entirelyuseless 09 February 2016 08:49:58PM 4 points [-]

I think Robin Hanson has a pretty good response to this.

Comment author: pcm 09 February 2016 07:36:09PM 2 points [-]

It has nearly the opposite effects for ideas I haven't yet bet on but might feel tempted or obligated to bet on.

The bad effects are weaker if I can get out of the bet easily (as is the case on a high-volume prediction market).

Comment author: Lumifer 11 February 2016 06:37:57PM 0 points [-]

A counterpoint to Tyler Cower from Bryan Caplan who won that particular bet.

Comment author: MrMind 10 February 2016 08:37:36AM *  0 points [-]

The natural question is if there's a better betting scheme, one that would retain the compulsion to tell the truth but smooth the tribalism naturally present in the brain.
For example, one could bet on both outcomes and pay the log of of the probability of the wrong outcome but receive the log-prob of the outcome that is realized. Has this kind of scheme been alread analyzed?

Comment author: Lumifer 10 February 2016 03:57:11PM 1 point [-]

Not sure changing the payout schemes would help. The underlying issue which Tyler Cowen thinks is a problem is that making a bet freezes your position in time, so to say, and gives you a stake (if not monetary then a status stake) to defend. That does not depend on the details of how the bet is arranged. And you can't go around it because getting some skin into the game is precisely the purpose of betting from Robin Hanson's point of view.

Comment author: MrMind 11 February 2016 08:19:15AM 0 points [-]

That does not depend on the details of how the bet is arranged.

I would contest that's the case insofar as you have to bet only on one side, if you gain / lose stakes from both positions, possibly the " rooting for one outcome over another, it makes the denouement of the bet about the relative status of the people in question" would be diminished?

Comment author: Lumifer 11 February 2016 05:43:06PM 0 points [-]

if you gain / lose stakes from both positions

I don't understand. At resolution time the event will have a single outcome. That single event outcome will lead to a single bet outcome. You can have complicated payout schemes, but after netting the outcome will be a single fixed number.

Comment author: James_Miller 08 February 2016 08:25:02PM 5 points [-]

On the betting market PredictIt you can by a contract for 38 cents that pays $1 if the Democratic party doesn't win the next U.S. presidential election. This seems like an amazingly good bet. (I have 1158 shares) Do others who follow U.S. politics agree that the chance of the Democrats not winning the election is well above 38%?

Comment author: Douglas_Knight 11 February 2016 05:22:13AM 3 points [-]

I think that it is worth mentioning that those are also the numbers extracted from Betfair, which has much higher volume, though is not available to Americans.

Is that bet actually available from small volume PredictIt? The bid-ask spread looks small, but are there hidden transaction costs? Why do the three "sell yes" numbers add up to more than $1?

Comment author: James_Miller 11 February 2016 05:12:39PM 1 point [-]

The bet is available on PredictIT. The numbers don't always add to $1 (actually $2 on this market because of the independent) because of bid/ask spreads and because PredictIt's fees make it unprofitable to always push the market to this point.

Comment author: Douglas_Knight 11 February 2016 06:29:32PM 1 point [-]

The answer is not bid-ask spreads, as I said in my comment. The answer is probably substantial hidden fees. But your original post quoted 38% ignoring the fees. If you don't know the details of the bets, it's not surprising that you think that they are good opportunities.

Comment author: [deleted] 08 February 2016 11:51:58PM 1 point [-]

I'd say the odds right now of either party winning are roughly 50-50.

Comment author: knb 08 February 2016 11:21:17PM *  1 point [-]

I'd put the odds of a non-Democrat a bit higher, maybe 45%. Democrats are known to have a significant advantage in presidential elections due to the Blue Wall and higher turnout compared to midterms. On the other hand a party rarely wins 3 presidential terms in a row. Also, I think there's a fair chance of an economic downturn this year, which would I suspect would tend to benefit the Republicans as the party controlling the white house seems to get blamed for recessions.

Comment author: gjm 09 February 2016 10:48:12AM 0 points [-]

known to have a significant advantage in presidential elections due to the Blue Wall and [...]

So far as I can make out, "Blue Wall" is just a slightly colourful way of saying "there are some states that have a solid Democratic majority", and doesn't indicate any advantage except in so far as being more popular is an advantage. In the only US presidential election of the last century (I didn't look further back) in which the outcome didn't match the popular vote, the Democrats won the popular vote and the Republicans won the election. (Very narrowly in both cases.)

Comment author: knb 09 February 2016 08:57:37PM 0 points [-]

In the only US presidential election of the last century (I didn't look further back) in which the outcome didn't match the popular vote, the Democrats won the popular vote and the Republicans won the election. (Very narrowly in both cases.)

The Blue Wall is considered to be a recent development, so looking at history doesn't really tell you much. It's something that has built up gradually but only really been a significant advantage for Democrats for maybe 2 presidential cycles. Basically the Republicans have to win a lot more swing states than Democrats. In 2012 Obama won 4% more of the electoral votes than Mitt Romney, but won 61% more electoral votes.

doesn't indicate any advantage except in so far as being more popular is an advantage.

If democrats were generically more popular it seems unlikely republicans would have large majorities in the House and Senate, control 31 state legislatures and 31 governorships, etc.

Comment author: CronoDAS 08 February 2016 05:10:14PM 5 points [-]

I think my girlfriend needs psychiatric help - she has visual hallucinations and other symptoms I've promised to keep confidential. She doesn't want to see a psychiatrist, as she and her family attribute her symptoms to supernatual causes; they believe that the "spirits" she sees actually exist. (Another family member - not a blood relative - also has psychiatric symptoms that are being treated and managed.) I really don't want to go into further details because one time I promised not to tell my psychiatrist about her issues and then told him anyway and she freaked out when I admitted to telling him. (I admitted it because I can't lie for shit and suck at keeping secrets, but that's beside the point.)

Any advice? ("Break up with your girlfriend" will be ignored, unless you can convince me that it would be better for her if I left her.)

Comment author: Dagon 09 February 2016 05:53:52AM 6 points [-]

It's going to be hard on you and worse on her if you stay together and you can't respect her beliefs and behaviors. Best outcome is to have a confrontation and get her some help, second best is for her to reject you and your help directly enough for you to get out. Worst is to silently allow her to hurt herself and blame yourself about it.

Also, you should decide in advance what you'll put up with, and set some lines you won't cross. It's very easy for this to gradually get worse and worse and you'll feel trapped by previous acceptance.

Comment author: MrMind 09 February 2016 07:59:18AM 5 points [-]

Hack the system? Does she have spiritual guide you can convince that would convince her to seek professional help?

Comment author: MaximumLiberty 10 February 2016 02:43:59AM 2 points [-]

It seems that part of the problem might be that she is afraid of being judged crazy or the equivalent. Having someone talk to her about her being crazy (which is how she will probably perceive it) seems like it runs a risk of being counter-productive. I think so far I've only told you what you are implying or saying.

If I have that right, you might think about finding a story -- fictional or biographical -- written from the perspective of someone suffering from similar symptoms and who resolved it through treatment. If she identifies with the protagonist, it might create some willingness to listen to alternatives.

Comment author: knb 08 February 2016 11:41:09PM 2 points [-]

What kind of advice are you seeking? Advice about how to convince her to seek treatment? Advice about whether she needs treatment? I don't think you've given enough information to give any meaningful advice.

Comment author: CronoDAS 09 February 2016 06:53:51PM 0 points [-]

Advice on how to get her to seek treatment. Hopefully her Medicaid card arrives in the mail soon...

Comment author: WalterL 10 February 2016 07:04:25PM 1 point [-]

She thinks that she sees spirits, which are real. Thus, from her perspective, she doesn't have psychiatric problems.

You, by contrast, think that she is hallucinating.

What does she think you think about her troubles, if I might ask? Like, does she know that you think her "spirits" are just her brain misfiring, or did you tell her that you believe her?

If the first, its really hard to see how you are in a relationship. Like would you be cool with going out with someone who thinks that you think they are crazy, but doesn't mind you having that belief as long as you don't act on it? Surely that points to some problems in her mental model of you.

If the second, you are betraying her trust. You don't seem to have a problem with that, posting here, telling her shrink, etc, but its going to come up if you ever do actually try to do an intervention. After all, to get her to accept help you'll have to get her to believe that she needs it, and a precursor to that is informing her that you believe that she needs it. It seems like she'll be super upset about that last bit.

Comment author: CronoDAS 11 February 2016 08:19:26PM *  3 points [-]

I've told her I don't believe in spirits, but I have also told her that I believe she's accurately reporting her experiences - that she really is "seeing" what she says she sees and not making up stories.

And yeah, our relationship is kind of shaky, although we've been together since August of 2014. I'm not willing to abandon her; I feel like she'd fall apart even further without me.

Comment author: Viliam 12 February 2016 08:32:01AM 4 points [-]

I'm not willing to abandon her; I feel like she'd fall apart even further without me.

You probably already know this, but that is not a healthy reason to stay together.

Comment author: WalterL 12 February 2016 07:47:47PM 1 point [-]

There's no way to ask the following without sounding kind of offensive, but I swear its relevant to proposing a solution

Do you pay for all her stuff?

Sorry, I realize I'm jumping way way way out to conclusions here. Its just, well, the vibe here reminds me eerily of a few others situations I've seen. That's too blunt of a way to put that, as well.

My question is much more "is she responsible", or "if spirits split humanity into grown-up-clan and screw-up-clan which would you/she end up in?" but I don't want to activate the "don't talk badly about the person I'm in a relationship" pattern, and I've found that making it a factual question helps some with that.

Comment author: CronoDAS 13 February 2016 04:06:12PM 2 points [-]

I think I see where this is heading... Well, she held down a job as a cashier for five years, but I talked her into quitting it and going back to community college. (Not very successfully, though, but I'm working on that.) I have a passive income, pre-tax, of $2100 a month. I give her $200 a week to replace the lost income from work while she goes to school. She also is the primary caregiver for her 7-year old niece with "special needs", which also takes up a lot of her time. (Other members of her household include her brother who has a heart condition and is on disability, her brother's girlfriend who has her own psychiatric issues related to being abused as a child, and her 92-year-old grandmother.) On top of everything else, she has chronic back pain and Type II diabetes, both of which are going untreated for lack of health insurance. She also shows symptoms of what might be bipolar disorder or borderline personality disorder, but not being a psychiatrist I'm not qualified to make a diagnosis. (These aren't the symptoms I'm not allowed to talk about, though.) She used to self-harm but hasn't for many years.

So yeah, I'm fully prepared to admit that she's a screw-up and I might be enabling her, but I really think I've helped her get better. Specifically, I've gotten her to go to the dentist for the first time in many years (her family paid), I got her to go back to school, I've helped her apply for Medicaid and it seems like she'll actually get it this time, and I've helped her with self-image and self-esteem issues. I often feel like what she needs is a parent, but hers are dead and her family wasn't and isn't up to the task, so I'm doing the best I can.

Comment author: WalterL 13 February 2016 11:49:30PM 1 point [-]

Alright, so, with more background acquired I'm ready to try and propose a solution. Hope it helps.

You got right to what I was thinking when you mentioned that your relationship is more parent/child than two adults. Cross clan relationships between grownups and screwups always feel a bit skeevy, because can he/she really consent when the alternative is to starve? Its much more palatable to think of the whole thing as a strange version of parent/child.

If we do that, your dilemma is one that has been shared across the ages. How do I make my kid clean his room? Middle ages, folks would say to grab the belt. Recently, folks would say you need to negotiate, but screwup clan wouldn't be screwup clan if they could trust their future selves to follow through on current commitments.

I'd recommend that you basically kink the feeding tube. Somehow, the situation has come about where you are paying her to go to college. That's leverage. Give her carrot/stick of if she goes along with you you'll pay for her psychiatry, if she balks you'll stop paying for her college. It's such a massive hassle to rearrange her entire life that she'll probably take this deal. (If paying for her psychiatry isn't in your budget then this whole thing is a non starter, since its not like she's going to be able to pay for it.)

A word of caution: In a relationship between grownup and screwup it is nearly always the grownup who gives way whenever there is a dispute. You'd expect the opposite, but I've seen it over and over. The general reason is that the powerless party would have to recognize the truth of the situation if they ever backed down, while the person in the stronger situation can magnanimously give way.

Example: I want to go to bridge club. My kid wants to go to karate class. If I back down, I sleep just fine that night. I made the choice to give in and go to karate instead of bridge. If I don't, they have to look at their life and face the fact that they just got dictated to. It's sobering.

Ergo, the near constant result of grownup clan putting its foot down is some kind of self hostage taking. "You know I have a temper", etc. Remain steadfast, because if you give in this time it'll just teach them that you'll give in the next time.

Comment author: CronoDAS 14 February 2016 01:59:48AM 4 points [-]

I'm not paying her tuition; her brother is (with financial aid). Most of the money I give goes to food. Also, I'm living at her house and sleeping in her bed, and I really don't want her to make me go back to my parents' house where my wheelchair-bound mother will drive me crazy. That gives her leverage, too. (And I'm barely not a screw-up myself...)

Comment author: Vaniver 08 February 2016 05:21:07PM 1 point [-]

Did you find any of the advice from last time productive or counterproductive? That'll help adjust advice you receive this time.

Comment author: CronoDAS 08 February 2016 05:44:32PM 0 points [-]

Since that time, I have become aware that her symptoms are worse than I had described. Again, I am not at liberty to discuss them.

Comment author: ChristianKl 08 February 2016 06:33:29PM 1 point [-]

Do you think hes symptoms worsened or do you think you have just become more aware of symptoms?

Comment author: CronoDAS 08 February 2016 08:00:00PM 0 points [-]

I have become aware of symptoms that she has had since before she met me but did not reveal because, well, she was afraid people would think she was crazy or lying if she told people about it.

Comment author: [deleted] 10 February 2016 04:54:43AM 0 points [-]

Maybe you could bring to her attention laws about what clinicians have to do by law in certain circumstances. If she knows the boundaries of what it's safe to say without them being compelled to act on her 'craziness' or 'lying' that might give her confidence to talk to someone. That was a big thing for me. Also, she might seek help on her own or if there is an emergency be coerced into it anyway.

Comment author: _rpd 08 February 2016 06:09:31PM 0 points [-]

If she is distressed by the symptoms, you could encourage her to contact someone that can educate her about treatment options. There may be a mental health advice line in your area that can refer her or you to free or low cost resources.

Comment author: ChristianKl 08 February 2016 06:36:56PM 0 points [-]

That strategy has a good chance of discouraging her from getting treatment later. Getting her to call a mental health advice line that she doesn't trust likely won't be positive.

Comment author: _rpd 08 February 2016 06:57:44PM 0 points [-]

That strategy has a good chance of discouraging her from getting treatment later.

Why do you say that? Also, if she is distressed, then she may want treatment now.

Getting her to call a mental health advice line that she doesn't trust likely won't be positive.

Granted, but why won't she trust the mental health advice line? If she is distressed, she may be willing to consider help from new sources.

If she is not distressed, then CronoDAS can use the mental health advice line to get educated on the options in case she does become distressed.

Comment author: ChristianKl 08 February 2016 07:04:39PM 1 point [-]

Granted, but why won't she trust the mental health advice line?

Basically because there's a high likelihood that the operator on the other side doesn't believe that the spirits she sees exist and suggest she's wrong for believing they exist.

then she may want treatment now.

If that would be the case CronoDAS wouldn't have the problem he has.

Comment author: _rpd 08 February 2016 07:27:06PM 0 points [-]

Often helpline workers are people who formerly needed mental health advice themselves. At least, they'll have training on how to be helpful. I think it's very likely they'll be supportive, and unlikely that they'll be judgmental.

However, this is from a US perspective. Things may be different in other parts of the world.

Comment author: [deleted] 10 February 2016 04:49:56AM *  0 points [-]

The peril of ignoring emotions

Psychiatric insight into psychotic disorders tends to increase depression. Is her hallucinations episodic or persistent? Early intervention can reduce disability over the longer term. I'd recommend it if she's also delusional.

Comment author: Douglas_Knight 12 February 2016 06:44:11PM 0 points [-]

Are you concerned about the hallucinations or about the other symptoms? If the former, are you concerned about the hallucinations in themselves, or are you afraid that they are a sign of future problems?

Hallucinations are endemic. They just aren't a big deal.

Comment author: torekp 14 February 2016 02:29:14PM 0 points [-]

I agree: as long as the "spirits" aren't telling her to harm herself or others, they're no big deal. You said she might have bipolar disorder - depression and mania are both pretty big deals, so maybe you could ask her to seek treatment for depression. There's less stigma about depression, so she might be more receptive.

Comment author: DataPacRat 08 February 2016 05:21:42AM 5 points [-]

Building story, seeking comments

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1XcgNwELHCU-r7GuYUgDNDDIviThd8Y7Bdto_kMIcmlI/edit

I'm most of the way done putting together a design-doc for a story, and could use some feedback to help make sure no idiot balls are being held. Please feel free to go over what I've pinned down so far, and to comment there or here.

Comment author: ChristianKl 12 February 2016 01:42:10PM 4 points [-]

What do you consider the most interesting clinical trials that are currently running?

Comment author: drethelin 13 February 2016 07:15:21PM 0 points [-]

https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/record/NCT01287936 Personally interesting to me because it involves a treatment that is manufactured using our reagents, but also generally interesting to see progress made in treating brain damage.

Comment author: iceman 11 February 2016 11:24:31PM *  4 points [-]

I just got the weirdest piece of direct messaging spam from a 0 karma account:

Hi good day. My boss is interested on donating to MIRI's project and he is wondering if he could send money through you and you donate to miri through your company and thus accelertaing the value created. He wants to use "match donations" as a way of donating thats why he is looking for people in companies like you. I want to discuss more about this so if you could see this message please give me a reply. Thank you!

I'm not sure exactly what the scam is in the above, but the plan on the face is so ridiculous that it has to be one (p=95). Is anyone else receiving these, or is it just me since I'm a well know MIRI funder?

Comment author: ChristianKl 11 February 2016 11:30:36PM 14 points [-]

Likely a scam whereby he transfers money and then tells you to transfer some money back to him. Afterwards the first transaction get's flagged as fraud and you lose the money from the first transaction.

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 01 March 2016 10:05:33PM 0 points [-]

Thank you for the explanation! I posted a warning in a separate article. (Ironically, the second private message mentioned in the article was sent to my account.)

Comment author: Viliam 12 February 2016 08:35:48AM *  4 points [-]

Is anyone else receiving these, or is it just me since I'm a well know MIRI funder?

Have you received a private message on LW offering to donate to someone "through you"?

If you answered "yes", feel free to give more info in a comment.

Submitting...

Comment author: philh 29 February 2016 10:18:33AM 2 points [-]

I voted no, but I've now received exactly the same message, from /u/observer1.

Comment author: Viliam 01 March 2016 09:09:39AM *  0 points [-]

I wonder, if the account is banned, does it also prevent them from sending private messages, or merely from posting on the forum (which they don't do anyway).

Also, could everyone who voted "yes" please confirm whether it was the same account, or whether there are multiple scammer accounts?

Comment author: iceman 02 March 2016 12:36:18AM 1 point [-]

That's the account that I got the spam from AND they just messaged me again.

Comment author: Elo 11 February 2016 02:29:36AM 4 points [-]

I haven't reviewed the slack posts recently; I wanted to briefly say that there are 250 people who have joined now. They are not all active; but still it's going strong.

https://wiki.lesswrong.com/wiki/Less_Wrong_Slack

Comment author: Vaniver 10 February 2016 02:16:54PM 3 points [-]

Seen on MR: the Conspira-Sea Cruise, through the eyes of a skeptical journalist. (It's exactly what it sounds like: a 7-day cruise for believers in conspiracy theories.)

Comment author: Vaniver 10 February 2016 04:01:16PM 2 points [-]

More broadly, these theories reflect something that runs throughout the conference: a total lack of filters. No one seems to have ever asked, “Are these things actually true?” I have yet to hear anyone, at any session, ask a question even remotely like that. “How do you know?” “Have you tested these ideas?” “Why isn’t the research backing us up?” And the answers, which would come as a matter of course in a mainstream conference, are firewalled away by the guru status of the presenters. They’re invited experts, they must be right.

Comment author: TheAltar 10 February 2016 03:26:37PM *  1 point [-]

“The idea that you will die is a conspiracy.”

That's certainly the most eye-catching phrase I've seen all week.

Also, page 2 gets serious fast.

Comment author: WalterL 12 February 2016 07:52:19PM 0 points [-]

Yeah, Pseudo-law is a real thing, not just Arrested Development shenanigans. More folks should be alert for that.

Comment author: gwern 12 February 2016 08:25:30PM *  0 points [-]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sovereign_citizen_movement / https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Redemption_movement is one of my favorites. I'm a little surprised that they don't name it - I guess they haven't run into it enough before to know it's a specific movement and that stuff like the flag & 'admiralty courts' and 'chattel' are not unique to those particular speakers.

Comment author: username2 08 February 2016 10:41:48AM 3 points [-]

What are your favorite recent (2011-present) Science Fiction novels?

Comment author: James_Miller 08 February 2016 08:26:07PM 11 points [-]

Worm

Comment author: MaximumLiberty 10 February 2016 02:49:12AM 3 points [-]

Absolutely. Best thing I've read in years. Reading Twig now.

(For everyone else, https://parahumans.wordpress.com/. It's free.)

Comment author: WalterL 10 February 2016 07:08:10PM 2 points [-]

Yeah! Basically anything Wildbow does is gold.

Comment author: Dagon 09 February 2016 06:00:48AM *  5 points [-]

Thanks for making the question plural :) I'll second the vote for Worm. And add the recently-mentioned-here novel Crystal Society, which I'm only partly done with, and can say it's worthwhile even if it goes to crap from here. Favorite recent mainstream scifi is Among Others.

Comment author: philh 08 February 2016 10:55:24AM 5 points [-]

The Martian.

Comment author: CellBioGuy 10 February 2016 04:12:41AM *  3 points [-]

Ancillary Justice (Anne Leckie) <the sequels aren't very good though>

The Long Earth (Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter)

The Martian was a page-turner for sure but I think it actually worked better as a movie.

This is tough, I just realized how many of my favorite books I read in the last 5 years were actually written in either the early 2000s or the 1930s.

Comment author: Baughn 08 February 2016 11:19:26AM 1 point [-]

The Clockwork Rocket

Comment author: drethelin 13 February 2016 07:26:45PM *  0 points [-]

I really enjoyed The Great North Road https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_North_Road_(book)

Comment author: ChristianKl 12 February 2016 01:40:21PM 2 points [-]

At the end of last year there were a lot of news articles about like this about Metformin as the first anti-aging drug trial. I can't find the exact trial on clinicaltrials.gov. Can you?

Comment author: Douglas_Knight 12 February 2016 06:24:53PM *  1 point [-]

Here

I found it by simply searching for "metformin aging" (which was not the first search I tried). This says that the two names are the same study.

Comment author: gwern 12 February 2016 06:44:52PM *  2 points [-]

Lemire is wrong. TAME and MILES are different. MILES is intended to just examine short-term responses (look at the registered endpoints: "Primary: Gene expression. (changes in gene expression in muscle and adipose tissue with RNA Sequencing (RNA-Seq) [ Time Frame: 12 weeks treatment ]"); TAME is intended to be a long-term 5+-year study looking for reduction in cancer and heart disease. https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02432287 is MILES, and TAME is AFAIK not yet registered on clinicaltrials.gov because they were working on approval & funding first and have not yet published a draft protocol or begun recruiting. (When I was trying to do a power analysis for TAME, I went looking, but all I found was some media mentions which suggest that a protocol has been developed as part of the application process, as one would expect, but that it's nowhere publicly available.)

Comment author: Douglas_Knight 12 February 2016 07:21:46PM 1 point [-]

Yeah, I confused the cheap talk of clinicaltrials.gov accepting targeting aging with the FDA accepting aging as a potential indication.

Comment author: Lumifer 11 February 2016 07:04:14PM *  2 points [-]

To people interested in status and long-term relationships: here, have fun :-)

Comment author: TheAltar 11 February 2016 10:18:04PM *  0 points [-]

Seems like there's something odd/interesting going on since lots of the various professions are paired up with Truck Drivers.

Comment author: Nornagest 12 February 2016 12:06:19AM *  2 points [-]

My guess would be that there are a lot of truck drivers and it's a very male-leaning job, so I'd expect to see it paired up with a lot of female-leaning jobs of about the same class.

Comment author: [deleted] 08 February 2016 01:05:58PM *  1 point [-]

Is there an argument that society undervalues and/or underfunded paternalistic preventative health interventions for the wrong reasons? Is there a compelling reason that normal market forces will not solve the task of preventative health?

Comment author: Dagon 09 February 2016 06:15:48AM 3 points [-]

IMO, most people don't think long-term enough for market forces to be sufficient to solve lifestyle or resource allocation problems.

Unhealthy foods, bad television, alcohol abuse, water rights, sportsball conspiracies, downvote retribution -- really any personal choice that can be made wrongly by a weak-willed mortal meatsack -- are going to require violent (hopefully abstracted and implied violence via government, rather than direct violence in most cases) intervention to solve.

Comment author: username2 08 February 2016 01:53:51PM 1 point [-]

Stricter control of alcohol and tobacco would be paternalistic but most likely it would improve public health.

Comment author: [deleted] 08 February 2016 03:24:36PM 1 point [-]

Why does GiveWell prefer dalys to qalys?

If GiveWell cared more about QALY's than DALY's, would their recommendations be different?

Comment author: bogus 09 February 2016 10:20:58PM *  1 point [-]

DALYs are just a special case of QALYs for which there is very good weighting data available (from the WHO), because they're linked to well-defined medical conditions and disabilities. Of course one could imagine other, non-health-related interventions that would affect QALYs, but these outcomes are also harder to measure.

Comment author: Anders_H 09 February 2016 10:38:10PM 1 point [-]

I disagree with this. In my opinion QALYs are much superior to DALYs for reasons that are inherent to how the measures are defined. I wrote a Tumblr post in response to Slatestarscratchpad a few weeks ago, see http://dooperator.tumblr.com/post/137005888794/can-you-give-me-a-or-two-good-article-on-why .

Comment author: [deleted] 10 February 2016 01:56:45AM *  0 points [-]

I agree. QALY also relate to happiness, whereas DALY's relate to functioning.

If you are a billionaire, you have a selfish incentive to reduce DALY's to raise productivity.

QALY's are altruistic in the truest sense. I feel that should be pivotal in EA, not DALY's.

Just because someone can function perfectly (no 'disability') doesn't mean there no super depressed and miserable. They, even if they are a millionaire banker, could be a lot worse off than a highly 'disabled' quadraplegic from the Ivory Coast.

Comment author: bogus 10 February 2016 08:29:58PM 0 points [-]

Doesn't severe depression have a DALY weight? Of course one could also be miserable for all sorts of reasons without actually being depressed in a medical sense, and DALYs wouldn't account for this. But that's just one of the many ways in which DALYs optimize for practicality, compared to QALYs.

Comment author: [deleted] 08 February 2016 12:18:06PM 1 point [-]

What is the central claim in Buddhism?

In Buddhist phenomenology and soteriology, the skandhas (Sanskrit) or khandhas (Pāḷi) are the five functions or aspects that constitute the sentient being. In English, these five aspects are known as the five aggregates. The five aggregates are: material form, feelings, perception, volition (sometimes translated as mental formations), and sensory consciousness. Considering that the five aggregates continuously arise and cease within our moment-to-moment experience, the Buddha teaches that nothing among them is really "I" or "mine."

In the Theravada tradition, suffering arises when one identifies with or clings to an aggregate. Suffering is extinguished by relinquishing attachments to aggregates.

-Skandha

  • That can be tested, empirically, can't it?

  • Has it? If not, why not? If so, where and what are the results?

Comment author: Viliam 08 February 2016 01:08:24PM 1 point [-]

What specifically do you want to test empirically? Describe the hypothesis, and the test.

Comment author: [deleted] 08 February 2016 06:02:17AM *  1 point [-]

Should I be an organ donor? Should I tell others to be donors? Should you be a donor?

Two studies report on the QALY impact of organ donation in the Cost Effectiveness Analysis Registry. Whiting et al (2004) Canadian study reports that kidney transplantation alone results in a gain of 1.99 QALYs over a 20-year time compared with waiting on dialysis. Kontodimopoulos and Niakis's (2008) Greek study reports a 16.11-4.37=11.74 and 16.11-3.94=12.17 for the Lifelong QALY difference for hemiodialysis and peritoneal dialysis respectively against renal replacement therapy.

By inference, kidney transplantion alone raises recipient QALY’s by between 1.99 and 12.17. Accorinding to DonateLife: ‘Less than 1% of people die in hospital in the specific circumstances where organ donation is possible. The circumstances in which you can become a tissue donor are less limited.’ Assuming a 1% successful registration to transplantion rate, one donor registration aggregates to between 0.19 and 1.2 QALY’s for kidney’s alone. Assuming excess resources exist for transplantation aside donor registration, these QALYs can be directly attributable to additional donor registration. Additional donor registration can be attributed to organ donation advocacy if we assume accurate self report and adjust for selection of people who are already interested in organ donation in pre-and-post persuasion surveys for a group being targeted for increased donation.

The mechanism of action for behaviour change in prospective organ donor advocacy is believed to be family education and facilitating informed consent cccording to DonateLife. They say that ‘The majority of Australians are generally willing to become organ and tissue donors (69%).’ and ‘'In Australia approximately 60% of families give consent for organ and tissue donation to proceed.The majority of Australians (60%) have now discussed their donation decision with their family.'’

It seems like there is not enough information on the assembly of outreach operations to actually cost it per QALY. But it’s free to tell people that they should support their families decisions and to get your learn on so you can talk authoritatively and provide ‘informed consent’ to prospective donors.

The Open Philanthropy Project estimates that:

clearing the kidney waiting list could (naively) save billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of QALYs.

They refer to clearing the waitlist with incentive based organ trading (no price ceiling of $0 for donors)

It seems like policy change roughly occurs in an altruistic direction over the long term. The literature suggests switching to an opt-out system doesn’t increase donation rates, even though countries that have those systems tend to have higher donation rates. But why donate organs if I can wait to the Open Philanthropy Projects' policy change interventions manage to get incentive based systems set up? In fact, could motivating individuals to donate their organs, thus giving them less incentive to advocate selfishly for a licit organ trade be ineffective?

tl;dr: America’s Matas and Schniztler (2003), in a highly cited paper, report a gain of 3.5 QALY’s and health care system cost savings of 100,000USD for every new donor. Assuming, the American health care system is costed at the same rate at the time of publication as today (unlikely, figure is extremely conservative), will save the government 1million USD for just 10 new organ donors (35 QALY’s)

My country, Australia, underperforms international for organ donation rates :/

References

  • DonateLife http://www.donatelife.gov.au/discover/facts-and-statistics#sthash.uidw6ohC.dpuf

  • *Kontodimopoulos and Niakis's (2008) * An estimate of lifelong costs and QALYs in renal replacement therapy based on patients' life expectancy: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17996975

  • Whiting et al (2004) Cost-effectiveness of organ donation: evaluating investment into donor action and other donor initiatives: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15023149

  • Matas and Schniztler (2003) Payment for Living Donor (Vendor) Kidneys: A Cost-Effectiveness Analysis: onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1046/j.1600-6143.2003.00290.x/full

Comment author: polymathwannabe 08 February 2016 04:23:14PM 1 point [-]

Should I be an organ donor? Should I tell others to be donors? Should you be a donor?

Simply put, yes, yes, and yes.

Comment author: [deleted] 10 February 2016 04:56:03AM *  1 point [-]

Simply put, yes, yes, and yes.

Justification?

here's the best case FOR that I've seen and here is the best case against.

Comment author: polymathwannabe 10 February 2016 02:52:20PM 0 points [-]

Oh, I should have specified. I'm all for being a cadaveric donor. I'm not removing my kidney while I'm still using it.

Comment author: Elo 08 February 2016 07:47:01PM 0 points [-]

+1 agree

Comment author: DataPacRat 08 February 2016 08:38:14PM 1 point [-]

Should I be an organ donor?

Very likely, with the slight caveat that being an organ donor tends not to be compatible with having a full set of plans in place for cryopreservation.

Comment author: Lumifer 11 February 2016 06:41:06PM 0 points [-]

In general, hypothesis testing is overrated and hypothesis generation is underrated

Andrew Gelman

Comment author: Douglas_Knight 12 February 2016 07:10:52PM 1 point [-]

Did you mean to post this on the quotes thread? As a summary of the linked article, it's pretty misleading.

Is the statement true? I think it's pretty clearly true among academic scientists, which I think is all that Gelman meant, but probably the opposite is true more generally.

Comment author: Lumifer 18 February 2016 06:54:21PM 0 points [-]

No, this isn't really a "rationality quote" and shouldn't go into the quotes thread. I posted it here because it sounded interesting to me and because it points to a glaring weakness in the Bayesian approach -- it is entirely silent about hypothesis generation. The quote wasn't meant to represent the article.

Comment author: [deleted] 11 February 2016 11:16:32AM *  0 points [-]
Comment author: LessWrong 11 February 2016 02:01:36PM 3 points [-]

Can you vouch for the book? I've always wanted to try gardening but had no idea where to start.

Comment author: [deleted] 11 February 2016 02:12:55PM *  2 points [-]

I'm happy to hear that! It is a lovely past time and I hope it brings you lots of happiness. These are great books to step up your gardening game. Though, the way that gardening culture works is that the books assume plenty where those background steps are generally learned from your parents or a friend. I recommend going and buying seeds suitable for your climate, then looking up when to water those specific ones, and when to plan them, and in how much shade (if any). Chances are your first problem will be the soil being not nutritious or pests. Your next steps will be to look up what to do next, when that happens! Trial and error is best since there is so much regional variation that books don't tend to be so useful unless you already have your foot in the game and can interpret them for your regional context.

Comment author: LessWrong 11 February 2016 02:25:31PM 1 point [-]

so much regional variation that books don't tend to be so useful unless you already have your foot in the game and can interpret them for your regional context.

I'm curios how true this is. As an aspiring min-maxer (I can't tell if this sounds better than aspiring rationalist) one of my main areas of curiousity are how much the supposedly non-determinal aspects of stuff affect a system as a whole.

Assuming a large and very severe difference then I should first get a book that will help me determine how much my climate will affect my plants. Obviously a plant not tolerant of cold or heat will have trouble growing well so knowing the ins and outs can give me a good comparative advantage.

Do you think I'm just thinking too much and I should just RTFM or do you think my cautiousness is justified?

Comment author: [deleted] 11 February 2016 02:29:45PM *  1 point [-]

Do you think I'm just thinking too much and I should just RTFM or do you think my cautiousness is justified?

justified! This is a new problem domain. seeking advice could save you incredible amounts of stress and time, assuming I'm right. Meanwhile, I enjoy helping someone who sounds genuinely interested in an area I love! <3

actually, there's a third option. Traditionally agricultural knowledge is 'gossip and commonsense'. You've probably heard of where the 'growing regions' are in your part of the world. Are you in any? You could ask your neighbours if they grow what grows well. This kind of intelligence gathering can be invaluable and at least among gardening interested folk - it's totally acceptable to ask around! Even if you're a 27 year old computer programmer who's never seen an orchid in your life, you can ask the granny down the road how to get started!

You could also look up what grows well in your area, but it might not be granular enough for the min-max side of you! Hope this was helpful. If there's anything I can do to be of more assistance without being redundant to information elsewhere online I'll do my utmost.

Comment author: LessWrong 11 February 2016 03:21:22PM 2 points [-]

I live in a city, so the growing region is by proxy the closest supermarket. My apartment does have an unattended garden but I'm not quite sure what I could do with it. Every spring there's plenty of growth but some dickhead always mows everything down if summer doesn't make everything dry and uhm.. groundy?

I'm assuming they keep coming back because (A) They hate that mowing dickhead (B) They have some pretty darn long roots there. Seeing as plants don't have emotions B is the right option while A is more wishful thinking.

I have a nice pot of peppermint which the ground looks dense like a bus full of people and it still managed to grow some despite how dense the ground looks and summer fighting it with a water drinking competition.

TLDR: What options do you think a city guy has?

Comment author: [deleted] 12 February 2016 12:51:00PM 0 points [-]

I'm assuming they keep coming back because (A) They hate that mowing dickhead (B) They have some pretty darn long roots there.

It could be that seeds are left in the ground. They can just child there for years! Farmers hate that cause it's a weedy phenomenon.

I have a nice pot of peppermint which the ground looks dense like a bus full of people and it still managed to grow some despite how dense the ground looks and summer fighting it with a water drinking competition.

Excellent! Hope it grows well!

TLDR: What options do you think a city guy has?

I'm not too confident in this area though. Maybe someone else could chime in?

Comment author: LessWrong 12 February 2016 01:04:48PM 0 points [-]

It could be that seeds are left in the ground. They can just child there for years! Farmers hate that cause it's a weedy phenomenon.

Any reason why it can't be some deep roots? I have a crazy/stupid idea of using that garden to grow something, and roots would be rather troublesome with digging and stuff.

Excellent! Hope it grows well!

It grows EXTREMELY well - absurdly fast, to honest. I'm surprised there's still room for more growth after a year in the same pot.

By the way, what should I do about dead branches? There's a lot of dead branches and I'm not sure what to do with them.

Comment author: [deleted] 13 February 2016 02:40:21AM 0 points [-]

Any reason why it can't be some deep roots? I have a crazy/stupid idea of using that garden to grow something, and roots would be rather troublesome with digging and stuff.

I don't know if roots regrow the top bit, or if it's conceivable. Sorry about that. But yes, roots can be very troublesome when digging. They get in the way and their job is to stay in place. Them and rocks, if your soil is so inclined can be a bit annoying

By the way, what should I do about dead branches? There's a lot of dead branches and I'm not sure what to do with them.

It depends on how dead, basically. If they are decaying organic matter barely discernable from the soil, it could be useful for you should your soil have insufficient organic matter (and/or acidity since they often go hand in hand). Or, if it's too acid then it could be worthwhile getting rid of it. But that's only once you start looking at the soil quality stuff.

More importantly, if those branches are making it hard for you to access the ground, you could chop them up with an axe so they're easier to move and put them aside (or give them to people with fireplaces if they're the right kind of wood). They're probably too big to compost, but I don't know too much about composting since generally more traditional composting substances are readily available in my garden.

Comment author: LessWrong 13 February 2016 05:22:05PM 0 points [-]

It's a peppermint plant, they're more like a line drawn on paper rather than a tree's branches.

Think of it like ---- and ====.

They're mainly what used to be the plant when I got it, although there's a few stems here and there, the center of the pot is a bunch of dead 'branches'. Most of the new growth occurs at the side, and I want to know that if I take the dead 'branches' out, they'll be new growth in their place.

Comment author: [deleted] 11 February 2016 05:55:39PM 0 points [-]

Sinapis alba in pots. Eat the seedlings. Vitamins and some gall-inducing bitterness (so don't eat too much).

Comment author: [deleted] 08 February 2016 01:23:23PM *  -1 points [-]

The most ''authoritative'' study on the relationship between mobile phone use and cancer is industry funded, and both meta-analyses, case-study and the IARC warn of the dangers of mobile phone use, while most government guidelines are rather complacent on the issue, and refer to the authority of the industry-funded study

Mobile phones use electromagnetic radiation in the microwave range (450–2100 MHz). Other digital wireless systems, such as data communication networks, produce similar radiation.

In 2011, International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified mobile phone radiation as Group 2B – possibly carcinogenic (not Group 2A – probably carcinogenic – nor the dangerous Group 1). That means that there "could be some risk" of carcinogenicity, so additional research into the long-term, heavy use of mobile phones needs to be conducted.[2] The WHO added in June 2011 that "to date, no adverse health effects have been established as being caused by mobile phone use",[3] a point they reiterated in October 2014.[4] Some national radiation advisory authorities[5] have recommended measures to minimize exposure to their citizens as a precautionary approach.

In 2009, a meta-analysis of 23 studies on mobile phone use and tumor risk found that "there is possible evidence" that mobile phone use causes an increased risk of tumors

In October 2012, Italian high court (Corte suprema di cassazione) granted an Italian businessman, Innocente Marcoloni a pension for occupational disease; "[c]ontrary to the denials of many health agencies in the U.S. and in some other countries, the Italian Supreme Court has recognized a "causal" link between heavy mobile phone use and brain tumor risk in a worker's compensation case." According to Reuters, a lower court in Brescia had "ruled there was a causal link between the use of mobile and cordless telephones and tumours" in the case of "Innocenzo Marcolini who developed a tumour in the left side of his head after using his mobile phone for [between 5 and 6] hours a day for 12 years. He normally held the phone in his left hand, while taking notes with his right hand" and that the ruling was upheld but they summarized experts saying the "decision flies in the face of much scientific opinion, which generally says there is not enough evidence to declare a link between mobile phone use and diseases such as cancer and some experts said the Italian ruling should not be used to draw wider conclusions about the subject." As it takes time to develop cancer, the court disregarded short-term studies.[citation needed] The court based their ruling on "studies conducted between 2005 and 2009 by a group led by Lennart Hardell, a cancer specialist at the University Hospital in Orebro in Sweden" and disregarded studies that were even partially funded by the mobile phone industry such as the INTERPHONE

Lennart Hardell (born 1944), is a Swedish oncologist and professor at Örebro University Hospital in Orebro, Sweden.[1] He is known for his research into what he says are environmental cancer-causing agents, such as Agent Orange,[2] and has said that cell phones increase the risk of brain tumors.[3]

Hardell's research on cell phones and cancer has concluded that long-term mobile phone use is associated with an increased risk of acoustic neuroma and glioma.[4][5] He has said that children should be banned from using cell phones except in emergencies, as he feels the risk of cancer is greater in people who begin using mobile phones before the age of 20.[6]

His research was criticized in a 2002 review for methodological flaws. The review authors, John D. Boice Jr. and Joseph K. McLaughlin, wrote that Hardell's study, published in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention, was "non-informative, either because the follow-up was too short and numbers of cancers too small, or because of serious methodological limitations."[7] Another of Hardell's studies, in which he claimed that mobile phone users in rural areas were at a greater risk of developing brain tumors,[8][9] was criticized by Adam Burgess in Spiked. Burgess wrote that the study was "post hoc and therefore hypothesis-generating only," and said that the increased risk Hardell had claimed to have found in the study was "barely statistically significant."[10]

-Wikipedia

I feel that latent biases associated with vested interests are underappreciated by the rationalist community. From my post on tobacco, to previous times I've raised the issue of mobile phones and health, to Givewells position on the worm wars: they're Master's economics students so It's not surprising that they're biased towards the economists side of the disciplinary debate.

Comment author: Panorama 12 February 2016 11:49:10AM *  1 point [-]

Observation of Gravitational Waves from a Binary Black Hole Merger

This is the first direct detection of gravitational waves and the first observation of a binary black hole merger.

LIGO detects gravitational waves -- Press Conference

Press Release

Comment author: CellBioGuy 14 February 2016 06:56:26AM 1 point [-]

The detection came during their initial testing of the upgraded facility before the real data run even began. The timing combined with a bit of the wording in the paper itself suggests they may be detecting events of a similar scale at a somewhat frequent basis and that more papers will be forthcoming!

Comment author: gwern 11 February 2016 07:50:58PM 1 point [-]
Comment author: gwern 02 March 2016 02:11:39AM 0 points [-]
Comment author: DataPacRat 10 February 2016 11:30:32PM 1 point [-]

Seeking socio-econo-political organizing methods

How many useful ways are there for an uploaded mind, an em, to organize copies of itself to maximize the accuracy of their final predictions?

The few that I've been able to think of:

  • "Strict hierarchy". DPR.2.1 can advise DPR.2, but DPR.2's decision overrides DPR.2.1's.
  • "One em, one vote". DPR.2 gets a vote, and so does DPR.2.
  • "One subjective year, one vote". DPR.2.1 is running twice as fast as DPR.2, and so DPR.2.1 gets twice as many votes.
  • "Prediction market". The DPRs implement some sort of internal currency (which, thanks to blockchains, is fairly easy), and make bets, receiving rewards for accurate predictions.
  • "Human swarm". Based on https://www.singularityweblog.com/unanimous-ai-louis-rosenberg-on-human-swarming/ .

How many reasonably plausible methods am I missing?

Comment author: _rpd 11 February 2016 04:28:36AM 0 points [-]

"Prediction market". The DPRs implement some sort of internal currency (which, thanks to blockchains, is fairly easy), and make bets, receiving rewards for accurate predictions.

Taking this a little further, the final prediction can be a weighted combination of the individual predictions, with the weights corresponding to historical or expected accuracy.

However different individuals will likely specialize to be more accurate with regard to different cognitive tasks (in fact, you may wish to set up the reward economy to encourage such specialization), so that the set of weights will vary by cognitive task, or more generally become a weighting function if you can define some sort of sensible topology for the cognitive task space.

Comment author: Lumifer 08 February 2016 07:25:40PM 1 point [-]

An interesting discussion -- in the comments -- about meta-uncertainty or probabilities of probabilities. I say it's turtles all the way down :-)

Comment author: MrMind 09 February 2016 08:08:48AM *  2 points [-]

Sometimes they come back...
I'm a sucker for Jaynes, and I still think that Ap distributions are a much more solid contribution to the subject than any philosophical discussion of Knightian uncertainty or partition of the data, especially when you interpret Ap to be "the probability of retrieving a piece of evidence that will set P(A) = p".

Comment author: Manfred 09 February 2016 06:26:01AM 0 points [-]

Dunno, seems like Gelman is pretty correct to me. Which is to say, there are a finite number of turtles determined by the complexity of your model.

Comment author: Lumifer 09 February 2016 03:43:47PM 0 points [-]

You can always go one meta level higher and ask questions about your model from an outside view.

Comment author: MrMind 08 February 2016 09:35:49AM 1 point [-]

Just to orient my exposition, which one do you prefer: the long or the short explanation?

The longer one:

"Artificial Neural Networks (ANN) are models of computation that simulate the way the neural tissue in animals computes.

Neural tissue is made up by a large number of interconnected neurons: each neuron is a cell which has numerous locations, called synapses, that receive the electrochemical signals of hundred or thousands of other neurons. When the combined potential of all those rises above a certain threshold, a chemical transmissions is initiated, propagating a signal through a long thin projection of the body of the cell, called axon, which in turn is connected to the body of other neurons. In this way, neurons make up complex biological circuitry, where chemical potentials travel back and forth: the paths that gets used the most strengthen, those that are less useful weakens over time.

Artificial neurons are abstractions that treats signals in a similar way: they are nonlinear functions that receives many weighted inputs, and when those adds to a value above the threshold, they output a value. Usually the hyperbolic tangent is taken to be the activation function.

[pic]

Artificial neurons are connected in layers, each neurons receiving the inputs of every neurons in the layer before, outputting its value to every neurons in the layer after. This architecture is called fully connected, was the first to be considered and to be implemented."

The short one:

"Artificial Neural Networks aim at imitating the way neural tissue computes.

Neural tissue is made up by cells called neurons. They have a body littered with receptors where other neurons can connect (synapses), and have a long prolongation called axion, that can connect to other neurons. When combined the electrochemical potential in the synapses rises above a certain threshold, the axion transmit an impulse to the neurons it’s connected. Neurons are connected in complex ways, creating a biological circuit where signals can be strengthened or weakened based on their use.

Artificial neurons imitate this behaviour using a threshold function, usually a sigmoid function such as the hyperbolic tangent. Each neuron weights each of its input, add them together and pass the value to the threshold function, which will propagate the signal if the combined input is sufficient.

Artificial Neural Network usually are made up of neurons lined in layers, each neuron in a layer receiving the input of every neuron in the layer before and passing its output to each neuron in the layer after. This model is called fully connected and, while powerful, quickly becomes unmanageable for ANNs that have thousands of neurons per layer or have many layers to process the input (deep neural networks)."

Comment author: philh 08 February 2016 11:32:43AM *  2 points [-]

Both versions need proofreading. That aside:

First paragraph - short version.

Second - "The paths that gets used the most strengthen, those that are less useful weakens over time" seems good to include, but you don't make any mention of how that translates into ANNs. Maybe that comes later? Apart from that, I prefer the short version.

Third - Both discussions of threshold functions are kind of awkward. Long version - the first part makes it sound like the activation function is Heaviside: either 0 or 1. You attempt to correct that impression, but you don't say what an activation function is, so it doesn't work. Short version - depending on your audience, "sigmoid" and "hyperbolic tangent" need to be defined; and the second part again seems to suggest Heaviside contraray to the first part.

I think I'd recommend you just leave the Heaviside impression in place (maybe correct it in a footnote). "Artificial neurons imitate this behaviour using a threshold function. Each neuron weights each of its inputs, adds them together, and propagates the signal if the combined input is above some level."

I am pro-[pic], depending on the pic.

Fourth - you can't leave the "short" version there; you're opening a plot thread and then not closing it. If you're going somewhere with it (discussing/mentioning different ANN models, or how this model can be made manageable, or something), then great, but you might want to not start it until the point where you take it somewhere. If not, you should probably just cut it.

"The first to be considered and implemented" has similar problems, but less strongly.

Comment author: MrMind 09 February 2016 11:21:58AM *  1 point [-]

Thanks for the lenghty analysis, yes I'm aware that these are the first drafts of a first draft, and I don't even know if they will retain this form, but your comments made me realize that a shorter, faster pace is the way to go.
Thank you very much!

Comment author: [deleted] 08 February 2016 05:59:05AM -2 points [-]

Whenever I used to think of nationalising industries, I would think of industries relating to critical infrastructure or 'prestige industries'. Reading the following threw my intuitions overboard!

A tobacco industry buy-out

In the current model, the tobacco industry has a corporate mission of selling unhealthy products so as to profit its shareholders. Its aims and purposes are intrinsically misaligned with the public good and will ever remain so. However, if the tobacco industry were nationalised, with the intent of winding down operations, the interests of those providing tobacco and public health would be aligned.

For the amount of health harms caused, the tobacco industry is not highly profitable. The total profit of the three major tobacco companies in Australia in 2007 was $600 million on assets of $3.6 billion.27 The profit per tobacco related death was approximately $20 000. Profits must decline in time as smoking rates fall as intended. Based on asset base and a reasonable profit to projected earnings multiple, a buy-out in Australia might cost in the range of $5 billion. Estimates of the cost of nationalisation in Canada range from $0–15 billion.28 Purchase could be sweetened by protection from civil litigation. Even if it costs of the order of several billions, it would rapidly return that in terms of quantifiable reductions in healthcare costs.

-http://www.racgp.org.au/afp/2012/november/towards-an-endgame-for-tobacco/

Would the tobacco industry be for or against this? Would there be an opposition except from deontological libertarians?

Comment author: Dagon 08 February 2016 06:13:17AM 6 points [-]

Ugh. Improper aggregation abounds here. There are three main interested parties in a commercial endeavor: the shareholders, the employees, and the customers.

Measured profit, discounted and extended far in to the future (the AU$5B mentioned) covers only the shareholders. This seems like the much smaller set of stakeholders. The economic value to employees is likely much larger, and the imputed value to smokers, as measured by the amount they're willing to pay, greater still.

Comment author: [deleted] 08 February 2016 07:39:39AM *  1 point [-]

imputed value to smokers, as measured by the amount they're willing to pay, greater still.

Inferring preferences of addicts by 'revealed preference', that is, what they are willing to pay, is methodologically inadequate. They are characteristically time-inconsistent (to behavioural economists) or dynamically inconsistent (to game theorists)

The economic value to employees is likely much larger

I don't rate the economic empowerment of tobacco industry employees particularly highly. I doubt they're ethical consumers if they're such unethical producers.

edit: if you're interested see this:

The near-universal experience of regret among smokers in four countries: Findings from the International Tobacco Control Policy Evaluation Survey.

cohort of over 8000 adult smokers....The proportion of smokers who agreed or agreed strongly with the statement “If you had to do it over again, you would not have started smoking” was extremely high—about 90%—and nearly identical across the four countries.

Comment author: Dagon 08 February 2016 03:06:47PM 4 points [-]

The problem with ignoring these real humans' desires is that your buyout plan fails. You can only pay off the current shareholders, and without some form of more serious government intervention, the employees and consumers will cause NEW enterprises to replace them.

And if you're going to use the government mandate hammer to prevent that, why not just use it in the first place rather than spending the buyout money?

Comment author: Douglas_Knight 11 February 2016 02:31:19AM *  2 points [-]

The existing tobacco companies are real assets that require compensation if they are nationalized, while the right to create new companies does not require compensation if it is destroyed.

You might also ask why people don't create new American tobacco companies to acquire the advertising rights that existing companies gave up in Master Settlement.

Comment author: Dagon 11 February 2016 03:42:11AM 0 points [-]

A lot depends on what the "real assets" are. They have no property right in future revenue if customers choose to buy somewhere or something else. They may have contractual rights to a monopoly, which could be purchased (but which is pretty suspect to start with). They do likely have property rights in plant (heh) and equipment, which will be a natural barrier to competitive entry.

Comment author: gwern 09 February 2016 10:56:29PM *  2 points [-]

and without some form of more serious government intervention, the employees and consumers will cause NEW enterprises to replace them.

Perhaps you should read the link. The argument is that the existing industry can be bought out and replaced by a nationalized agency that, because of reconciled incentives (the same government which is earning the income must also pay most of the healthcare costs, which vastly exceed the profits) can engage in strategies to manage the demand consistently downward with a variety of strategies such as reduced advertising, reduced nicotine content, or higher prices, which reduce the number of people who want tobacco products. If there is no demand because people have not gotten addicted and there are other substitutes for it*, then there is no reason to expect a black-market of large enough scale to make a meaningful difference to public health; if at the end of the managing down of the current 3m smokers, there's a small black-market of 10,000 people supported by cheaper stronger foreign cigarettes smuggled in through airports - then public health Mission Accomplished.

It's true that for many popular drugs, regulations or banning can have backlashes, but it's also possible for some drugs to just fade away or people rationally substitute similar but better drugs; the research chemical scene churns out hundreds or thousands of new drugs, many of which enjoy a brief burst of popularity until they get banned or people move on to the next new thing. The author gives some relevant examples from public health:

It is possible to combine restrictions on additives and nicotine delivery. The effect would be to reverse the development process of the modern cigarette, which could be effective. Removing the addictive elements of a harmful product is neither novel nor revolutionary. Compulsory reformulation of compound analgesics and the eventual ban on over-the-counter sales in the late 1970s effectively reduced consumption and were followed by dramatic reductions in analgesic nephropathy and other harms of compound analgesic abuse.25 It stands as one of the great achievements of public health by regulation. Importantly, the products were never banned outright but use just faded away. Control of petrol sniffing and other volatile substance use in Australian Indigenous communities is another example. Although a number of interventions and educational actions had been undertaken, it was fuel substitution finally culminating in the implementation of OPAL fuel that saw reductions in sniffing of the magnitude of smoking reductions that are required to reverse health harms.26 Although other actions will be required, only the elimination of a tolerable, addictive cigarette will truly address the harms of smoking in the most vulnerable groups and is the cheapest, effective action as the full costs are transferred to the tobacco manufacturer.

It's remarkable to see you attack it as a proposal for a full illegalization when in the first first section of the preface, the author denies that as a suggestion and warns that pro-tobacco people will try to strawman proposals into prohibition:

That said, an outright ban is a very easy target for the arguments of the opponents of tobacco control. In general, prohibition has not been an effective strategy to eliminate use of other substances. It can easily be crafted by the tobacco industry as an affront to liberty or as counter to the autonomy of individuals. On those grounds, it will probably not be the answer. A separate consideration is whether some tobacco products presently available should be restricted or banned. Oral or chewing tobacco is banned in Australia but used widely in some other countries. There is thus a precedent.

* funnily enough, I think 'substitutes' here is as broad as smartphones. One of the major uses of tobacco products has always seemed to be as something to do with your hands, kill time, and idly socialize with others (as suggested by smoking studies where nicotine-free cigarettes offer relief, indicating that tobacco addiction is as much about the habit and activity as the actual chemical contents), and smartphones can do all 3 at once.

Comment author: [deleted] 13 February 2016 03:05:22PM 0 points [-]

The more I read the more compelling the smartphone replaces idea stands out to me.

Perhaps it could be marketed as a replacement to ciggies. If there were to be an app that replicated this kind of function, it would be good to go:

As the users of a drug forum comparing the difficulty of quiting cigarettes to heroin say:

We use cigarettes for way more than effect (cause lets face it-the 'buzz' sucks), they serve as a social lubricant, and an excuse to stand outside and stare at things without seeming like a moron.

Comment author: [deleted] 10 February 2016 05:03:12AM 0 points [-]
  • funnily enough, I think 'substitutes' here is as broad as smartphones. One of the major uses of tobacco products has always seemed to be as something to do with your hands, kill time, and idly socialize with others (as suggested by smoking studies where nicotine-free cigarettes offer relief, indicating that tobacco addiction is as much about the habit and activity as the actual chemical contents), and smartphones can do all 3 at once.

Never thought of that! How clever.

Comment author: [deleted] 10 February 2016 05:01:07AM *  0 points [-]

the employees and consumers will cause NEW enterprises to replace them.

see small game fallacy and conjuring evolutions and your ideological assumptions begone!

The myth in the tobacco industry's economic importance argument is that a significant economic presence necessarily implies significant economic dependence. Implicit in the industry's argument is the notion that a decline in tobacco economic activity will entail a comparable decline in the economy. However, when resources are no longer devoted to a given economic activity, they do not simply disappear into thin air; rather they are redirected to other economic functions.*

Comment author: polymathwannabe 08 February 2016 04:50:33PM -1 points [-]

Addicted consumers cannot make free choices. This makes several economic assumptions collapse when they're used to try to analyze drug consumption.

Comment author: gwern 09 February 2016 10:42:20PM *  1 point [-]

There are three main interested parties in a commercial endeavor: the shareholders, the employees, and the customers.

The employees and customers have no property rights, and the latter are a shrinking minority of the population with little political power to fight any nationalization (as evidenced by their failure to beat the many onerous regulations successfully put in place already). The former employees have somewhat better a chance to organize, but the best estimate I can find of the total number of employees is ~2100, who likewise have failed to stop the creation of the existing regulations; tobacco is no longer grown commercially in Australia, so you can ignore the farmers as they are overseas and are ill-placed to affect Australian politics and also suffer from steep coordination costs.

Measured profit, discounted and extended far in to the future (the AU$5B mentioned) covers only the shareholders.

Who are the ones who can most easily lobby against it and have the property rights which would be seized in a nationalization, and hence the NPV of their stake is the most important figure.

The economic value to employees is likely much larger,

What, all 2100 of them? 'much larger'? You think each one values that exact job at >$23.8m (5000000000/2100 ~> 23,80,952.381)? The Australian economy has been consistently good for a long time now, so they can find other jobs in manufacturing and marketing, meaning the marginal value of the job existing is not going to be that high to them even if they were guaranteed lifetime employment.

and the imputed value to smokers, as measured by the amount they're willing to pay, greater still.

No one believes that their willingness to pay reflects their true utility, and that's why tobacco is getting regulated out of existence.

Comment author: Jiro 08 February 2016 05:45:35PM *  3 points [-]

What quantifiable reduction in healthcare costs? Everyone dies once; unless death by old age is substantially cheaper than death by lung cancer, dying later wouldn't decrease healthcare costs at all. Furthermore, if they die later, they consume more Social Security and other things generally consumed by older people. Letting them die of lung cancer can save money.

Comment author: gwern 09 February 2016 11:13:58PM 3 points [-]

Furthermore, if they die later, they consume more Social Security and other things generally consumed by older people.

If human life is valueless, then there are even greater savings to be had than allowing tobacco use or subsidizing extreme sports...

unless death by old age is substantially cheaper than death by lung cancer

It is. Ignoring the costs of dying years earlier to the person in terms of DALYs/QALYs, smokers work less, are less healthy, have more comorbidities, worse outcomes from treatment, their cancers are long-lasting and require more expensive treatment than other things nonsmokers would die from (compare months or years of fighting lung cancer in your 50s to dying of a stroke while asleep in your 80s). 'compression of morbidity'/rectangularization might also imply that diseases in late life will generically be cheaper because they are more likely to be quickly fatal and periods of disability shorter.

Comment author: Lumifer 08 February 2016 06:12:19PM 1 point [-]

For lifestyle interventions to reduce healthcare costs you should incentivize people, especially older people, to take up extreme sports. For the best savings you want people to suddenly die just as they are starting to get sick more often.

I would recommend subsidies for things like ultralight airplanes, BASE jumping, fist-fighting sharks, and competitions to see who can get the furthest into the open ocean before his ice floe melts...

Comment author: TezlaKoil 08 February 2016 01:07:36PM 2 points [-]

Dagon's points are very good. There's another aspect as well:

Tobacco import and distribution (and in some cases, production) are already nationalized in many countries, especially in the EU. National governments try to impose artificial scarcity (winding down operations, tax increases, fixed pricing), and this makes the statistics look better - officially monitored tobacco sales decrease.

Artificial scarcity cannot last: a black market of RYO tobacco, and home-made cigarettes of dubious origin is always ready to serve customer demands. In the end, the health effects of nationalizing the tobacco industry, and winding down operations, can easily be negative.

Comment author: Douglas_Knight 11 February 2016 02:37:18AM 3 points [-]

Australia has a track record of doing a better job of enforcing bans than other countries. It's a island.

Comment author: [deleted] 08 February 2016 01:47:16PM 1 point [-]

Artificial scarcity cannot last: a black market of RYO tobacco, and home-made cigarettes of dubious origin is always ready to serve customer demands.

True, but if it's less than the total market that existed before hand, that's still a public health gain

In the end, the health effects of nationalizing the tobacco industry, and winding down operations, can easily be negative.

It can be, but that's just not the best supported hypothesis. The weight of evidence best demonstrates that control measures have thus far been quite uniformly positive.

Comment author: TezlaKoil 08 February 2016 04:06:12PM 2 points [-]

The weight of evidence best demonstrates that control measures have thus far been quite uniformly positive.

I see. The black market effects are well-documented, but I am not familiar with evidence which shows that control measures have any measurable effects on public health. Where could I find that data?

Comment author: Old_Gold 09 February 2016 01:24:41AM 3 points [-]

Here's a hint, replace "tobacco" with "marijuana", or some drug that's currently fashionable. Note, how your intuition changes.

Comment author: [deleted] 09 February 2016 06:08:53AM 1 point [-]

I don't follow. Can you elaborate?

Comment author: Old_Gold 10 February 2016 01:52:18AM 3 points [-]

Do you think the people advocating for marijuana legalization would be satisfied with legalization under the terms you proposed for tobacco?

Comment author: [deleted] 10 February 2016 02:02:35AM *  0 points [-]

I think there were be different strata of marajuana legalisation advocates who would be satisfied with different things. But when I put forward a policy position, it isn't to maximise political tractability, but rather to maximise public health gains. Political tractability can itself be advocating for with spin, coalitions, maneuvering and other such politics.

The fact is. marajuana is not tobacco. They are not interchangeable, in the same way that meth and marajuana aren't interchangeable, or chocolate for that matter. They all have different weights of costs and benefits.

Comment author: Old_Gold 10 February 2016 02:13:56AM 5 points [-]

But when I put forward a policy position, it isn't to maximise political tractability, but rather to maximise public health gains.

So why didn't you simply propose a ban?

Comment author: Lumifer 10 February 2016 02:18:13AM 4 points [-]

So why didn't you simply propose a ban?

Oh, maximising public health gains would probably require force-feeding vegetables (in prison, if necessary) and mandatory exercise (ditto). But in the meantime you can start by banning sugar.

Comment author: [deleted] 10 February 2016 04:29:32AM *  -1 points [-]

why

keep things simple, but never simpler than they are

force-feeding vegetables (in prison, if necessary) and mandatory exercise (ditto). But in the meantime you can start by banning sugar.

because that wouldn't maximise public health gains. Would people be overall less or more happy? It's pretty obvious and that's a pretty dumb solution.

Bans are bad because smoking is addictive and withdrawal is harmful. It would be cruel. This kind of black and white thinking and slippery slope argumentation is really suprising to see on LW.

edit: maybe you're on to something. Take a read of this about options for a tobacco endgame. The number of good options available to the regulatory community is sufficient to make any gentle-nudge policy researchers and advocates feel like they're wasting their time (and maybe they are!)

Comment author: Good_Burning_Plastic 09 February 2016 04:40:31PM *  1 point [-]

You realize that there are pretty relevant differences between tobacco and marijuana other than the latter being "currently fashionable"? (assuming it actually is -- it doesn't look like it's much more popular than tobacco or than it was 50 years ago to me, at least here in [country redacted])

Comment author: Old_Gold 10 February 2016 01:53:45AM 3 points [-]

(assuming it actually is -- it doesn't look like it's much more popular than tobacco or than it was 50 years ago to me, at least here in [country redacted])

I said "fashionable" not "popular". I have no idea which is more popular, I mean fashionable in the sense of high status.

Comment author: Good_Burning_Plastic 10 February 2016 08:21:15AM 0 points [-]

Marijuana is... high status?

Comment author: Old_Gold 11 February 2016 07:45:11AM 3 points [-]

Yes, all the cool kids are doing it.

Comment author: Good_Burning_Plastic 11 February 2016 08:15:14AM 0 points [-]

And not tobacco?

Comment author: Old_Gold 12 February 2016 03:06:20AM 3 points [-]

No, tabacco is the stuff those old guys smoke.

Comment author: Good_Burning_Plastic 12 February 2016 08:21:34AM *  1 point [-]

Are you seriously saying that there is a sizeable fraction of people who regularly smoke marijuana but not tobacco? I haven't met many, whereas I have met plenty of people who smoke both or neither.

EDIT: I think what's going on might be that you noticed that many young people smoke marijuana and think it's cool and many young people don't smoke tobacco and think it's old people's stuff, but didn't notice they aren't the same people. But just because Muhammad is a common first name and Wang is a common last name doesn't mean Muhammad Wang is a common full name.

Comment author: Old_Gold 13 February 2016 01:40:24AM *  3 points [-]

I'm not sure that distinction is relevant to the point under discussion, which isn't about reality so much as it is about how perceived "coolness" informs people's ideas about what policy proposals are reasonable.

Comment author: [deleted] 10 February 2016 04:57:47AM *  0 points [-]

Marajuana is only high status in certain sub cultures and low status in others and among the general public, unless it's for medicinal use. I'd estimate it's overall far more less status.

Comment author: G0W51 14 February 2016 04:49:39AM 0 points [-]

Why do people spend much, much more time worrying about their retirement plans than the intelligence explosion if they are a similar distance in the future? I understand that people spend less time worrying about the intelligence explosion than what would be socially optimal because the vast majority of its benefits will be in the very far future, which people care little about. However, it seems probable that the intelligence explosion will still have a substantial effect on many people in the near-ish future (within the next 100 years). Yet, hardly anyone worries about it. Why?

Comment author: gjm 14 February 2016 11:23:18AM 4 points [-]

First: Most people haven't encountered the idea (note: watching Terminator does not constitute encountering the idea). Most who have have only a very hazy idea about it and haven't given it serious thought.

Second: Suppose you decide that both pension savings and intelligence explosion have a real chance of making a difference to your future life. Which can you do more about? Well, you can adjust your future wealth considerably by changing how much you spend and how much you save, and the tradeoff between present and future is reasonably clear. What can you do to make it more likely that a future intelligence explosion will improve your life and less likely that it'll make it worse? Personally, I can't think of anything I can do that seems likely to have non-negligible impact, nor can I think of anything I can do for which I am confident about the sign of the impact they do have.

(Go and work for Google and hope to get on a team working on AI? Probably unachievable, not clear I could actually help, and who knows whether anything they produce will be friendly? Donate to MIRI? There's awfully little evidence that anything they're doing is actually going to be of any use, and if at some point they decide they should actually start building AI systems to experiment with their ideas, who knows?, they might be dangerous. Lobby for government-imposed AI safety regulations? Unlikely to succeed, and if it did it might turn out to impede carefully done AI research more than it impedes actually dangerous AI research, not least because it turns out that one can do AI research in more than one of the world's countries. Try to build a friendly AI myself? Ha ha ha. Assassinate AI researchers? Aside from being illegal and immoral and dangerous, probably just as likely to stop someone having a crucial insight needed for friendly AI as to stop someone making something that will kill us all. Try to persuade other people to worry about unfriendly AI? OK, but they don't have any more useful things to do about it than I do. Etc.)

Incidentally, do many people actually spend much time worrying about their retirement plans? (Note: this is not the same question as "do people worry about their retirement plans?" or "are people worried about their retirement plans?".)

Comment author: G0W51 15 February 2016 07:55:07PM 0 points [-]

People could vote for government officials who have FAI research on their agenda, but currently, I think few if any politicians even know what FAI is. Why is that?

Comment author: CellBioGuy 14 February 2016 06:54:15AM *  4 points [-]

Because most people don't agree that 'it seems probable that the intelligence explosion will still have a substantial effect on many people in the near-ish future'.

Comment author: ChristianKl 14 February 2016 05:18:32PM *  3 points [-]

Why do people spend much, much more time worrying about their retirement plans than the intelligence explosion if they are a similar distance in the future?

Why do you think they are in similar distance in the future? If you take the LW median of a likely arrival of the intelligence explosion that's later than when most people are going to retire.

If you look at the general population most people consider the intelligence explosion even less likely.

Comment author: G0W51 15 February 2016 07:58:38PM 0 points [-]

It's later, but, unless I am mistaken, the arrival of the intelligence explosion isn't that much later than when most people will retire, so I don't think that fully explains it.

Comment author: ChristianKl 15 February 2016 09:26:03PM 1 point [-]

I think it's often double. Retiring in 40 years and expecting the intelligence explosion in 80 years.

Comment author: G0W51 20 February 2016 07:18:03PM 0 points [-]

That sounds about right.

Comment author: [deleted] 11 February 2016 02:03:58PM 0 points [-]

Tonight I was feeling really depressed. Then I thought I would feel better if I donated to GiveDirectly, in the knowledge that their research supports improvements in psychological distress for the recipient population. Maybe regular donation could be tested for treatment for low mood? If that was the case, maybe governments would subsidise it just like they do other psychiatric interventions.

Comment author: [deleted] 11 February 2016 06:56:58AM *  0 points [-]

The correlates of war dataset. Now discussions about military interventions can go beyond our interventions, single case examples and personal reference experiences.

Would anyone be willing to look at humanitarian interventions from an effective altruism angle? Since the Open Philanthropy Project doesn't even have a shallow investigation of the topic, donors, researchers and advocates might be missing quite an important cause.

Comment author: [deleted] 10 February 2016 01:36:16PM *  0 points [-]

Although popular opinion believes that Prohibition failed, it succeeded in cutting overall alcohol consumption in halfduring the 1920s, and consumption remained below pre-Prohibition levels until the 1940s, suggesting that Prohibition did socialize a significant proportion of the population in temperate habits, at least temporarily. Some researchers contend that its political failure is attributable more to a changing historical context than to characteristics of the law itself. Criticism remains that Prohibition led to unintended consequences such as the growth of urban crime organizations.

-Wiki: prohibition

How did prohibition ever gain enough popular support to become law?

2) Because of the Woman's Suffrage movement, as married women and children were one of the people most heavily affected by drunkenness (i.e. husbands drinking away all the money, spousal/child abuse under the influence, etc). Prohibition has great popular support amongst the women of America. And as women's political rights increased, so did the power of the prohibitionists. In fact, one of the Suffragette's main arguments was that it allowed women to escape drunken husbands.

3) The alcohol trade was heavily involved in governmental corruption scandals (in part because they tried to fight the prohibitionists), and so reform-minded progressives (who were in favor of increasing governmental regulation and oversight) increasingly allied with the prohibitionists against a common enemy.

-Eli5: reddit

Regarding (3), it would seem there is a sense in which alcohol was already mafia bootlegged pre-mafia, they just stopped doing it in cahoots with the government!

Comment author: Douglas_Knight 11 February 2016 07:20:59AM *  4 points [-]

remained below pre-Prohibition levels until the 1940s

In other words, effect of 10 years of prohibition lasted for 10 years past the repeal. That sounds to me like a really small effect.

Let's put this in context. Here is a table from Rorabaugh and the graph:
The Second Great Awakening had a much larger and lasting effect

Comment author: Vaniver 10 February 2016 02:18:38PM 0 points [-]

The American brewing industry was heavily German-American, and the Germans fighting the Americans in WWI (and then losing) surely had some cultural impact.

Comment author: ChristianKl 10 February 2016 01:03:20PM 0 points [-]

http://www.metaculus.com/questions/ seems to be a good successor to predictionbook. Does anybody know who's responsible for it?

Comment author: _rpd 10 February 2016 01:33:13PM 0 points [-]

AngelList says Anthony Aguirre is the founder.

Comment author: ChristianKl 10 February 2016 01:47:58PM 0 points [-]

I haden't checked AngelList. It's great to have a real company behind it in contrast to predictionbook which doesn't get development attention anymore.

Comment author: [deleted] 09 February 2016 10:57:31AM *  0 points [-]

A US based philanthropic organisation is very keen to fund me for something here in Australia. They have a shit-tonne of money. Though, it's not in a uncertain effectiveness cause error (GiveWell says they aren't ready release their OPP report on it yet). It's stressful pitching this opportunity for career capital against the impact I could have putting my time and resources in an 'effective' cause area. If I assume effectiveness will become increasingly valued in the world, taking their funds (which isn't even diverting it from better causes since it's cause specific funding) might actually NOT be good career capital. It's a pretty controversial area that doesn't command popular support. The scope of the funding probably isn't broad enough to do policy research stuff, which could be useful to the Open Philanthropy Project, but it is probably narrow enough to do evaluation efforts of whatever I experiment with, which could inform other EA's decisions (but that's probably not that unique, at the margin, eh?). Any advice?

Comment author: ChristianKl 09 February 2016 06:46:47PM 2 points [-]

Where your funds come from isn't very important for career capital. The important thing is what you do with it.

Comment author: [deleted] 10 February 2016 04:44:22AM 0 points [-]

Yes but those funds are tied to a specific cause area. I'll be reprimanded for using them for other purposes.

Comment author: ChristianKl 10 February 2016 12:43:55PM 0 points [-]

I think it's difficult to analyse that case without knowing the cause area you are speaking about.

Comment author: EStokes 09 February 2016 09:44:14AM *  0 points [-]

I'm thinking a bit about AI safety lately as I'm considering writing about it for one of my college classes.

I'm hardly heavy into AI safety research and so expect flaws and mistaken assumptions in these ideas. I would be grateful for corrections.

  1. An AI told to make people smile tiles the world with smiley faces but an AI told to do what humans would want it to do might still get it wrong eg. Failed Utopia #4-2 . However, wouldn't it research further and correct itself (and before that, have care to not do something un-correctable)? Reasoning as follows: let's say a non-failed utopia is worth 100/100 utility points per year. A failed utopia is that which at first seems to the AI to be a true utopia (100 points) but is actually less (idk, 90 points). Even were the cost of research heavy, if the AI wants/expects billions or trillions of years of human existence, it should be doing a lot of research early on, and would be very careful to not be fooled. Therefore, we don't need to do anything more than tell an AI to do what humans would want it to do, and let it do the work on figuring out exactly what that is itself.

  2. Partially un-consequentialist AI/careful AI: Weights harms caused by its decisions (somewhat but not absolutely) heavier than other harms. (Therefore: tendency towards protecting what humanity already has against large harms and causes smaller surer gains like curing cancer rather than instituting a new world order (haha).)

Thanks in advance. :)

Comment author: Manfred 11 February 2016 01:12:19AM 1 point [-]

1: Imagine a utility function as a function that takes as input a description of the world in some standard format, and outputs a "goodness rating" between 0 and 100. The AI can then take actions that it predicts will make the world have a higher goodness rating.

Lots of utility functions are possible. Suppose there's one possible future where I get cake, and one where I get pie. I have a very strong opinion on these futures' goodness, and I will take actions that I predict will make the world more likely to turn out pie. But this is not a priori necessary - we could define a utility function that swaps the goodness ratings of cake and pie, and an AI using that utility function would take actions that it predicts will lead to worlds with higher goodness rating, i.e. cake. There is no objective standard that it could use to realize that pie is better - it is merely a computer program that makes predictions and then picks the action that it predicts maximizes some function.

Utopias are like cake and pie. If I give the pie utopia a higher goodness rating, and the AI gives the cake utopia a higher goodness rating, it's not "wrong" in the sense of being able to check its work and find a mistake. The AI can prefer the cake utopia even while operating perfectly.

This is what happens in the case of Failed Utopia 4-2. The AI has some preferences about the world. And those preferences are very close but not quite human preferences. And so the main character ends up in the cake utopia. Even if the AI does a lot more research and checks its reasoning carefully, it is not a priori necessary that it should realize the error of its ways and make the world a pie utopia instead. It's wrong(2), but not wrong(1).

Similar problems show up when you try to make any sort of AI that just "does what humans want." Eventually, somewhere, you have to turn this vague verbal statement into a precise specification (like the code of the AI), which is used to compute something like a goodness rating. And it turns out that when you actually try to do this, it's pretty tricky to make the AI's goodness ratings similar to a human's goodness ratings. Basically every easy way has some critical flaw, and the ways that seem promising are not very easy.

So sure, we want to make an AI that just does what humans want (sort of). But this is like "make an AI that recognizes pictures of cats" - an admirable goal, but a nontrivial one. And one that might have bad consequences even if only slightly wrong.

Comment author: Vaniver 09 February 2016 12:40:15PM 1 point [-]

However, wouldn't it research further and correct itself (and before that, have care to not do something un-correctable)?

Check out the Cake or Death value loading problem, as Stuart Armstrong puts it.

There's a rough similarity to the 'resist blackmail' problem, which is that you need to be able to tell the difference between someone delivering bad news and doing bad things. If the AI is mistaken about what is right, we want to be able to correct it without being interpreted as villains out to destroy potential utility.

(Also, "correctable" is not really a low-level separation in reality, since the passage of time means nothing is truly correctable.)

Comment author: Good_Burning_Plastic 10 February 2016 09:02:18AM *  -2 points [-]

Dear all,

Instead of speculating about what the policies of this site are or aren't, look at the bottom of the page and you will find a link. Follow it and stop bullshitting.

Thanks.

Comment author: SherkanerUnderhill 11 February 2016 06:12:32PM 0 points [-]