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Open thread, Feb. 13 - Feb. 19, 2017

1 Post author: username2 13 February 2017 10:56AM

If it's worth saying, but not worth its own post, then it goes here.


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Comments (36)

Comment author: Viliam 14 February 2017 01:28:32PM 9 points [-]

I am tired of repeatedly seeing clever people explain on internet how one side of the political spectrum is consequentialist (which is apparently Latin for "smart"), while the other side is deontologist (which is apparently Latin for "dumb"). I mean, yes, this probably is how many smart people on the former side sincerely see it, from inside. Now if you would just step out of your bubble for a moment, and listen to the other side, you would find out that the smart people on the latter side actually see it as a conflict between short-term and long-term consequentialist-ish thinking. Indeed, the similarities between "consequentialist vs deontologist" and "short-term thinker vs long-term thinker" are scary. Consider this:

A: "Hey, while don't we all just do X? It is obviously a good thing!"

B: "Uh, we shouldn't do X, even if it seems nice at the first sight, because... <some long and complicated reasoning that doesn't sound convincing to A at all>."

Was this a consequentialist debating a deontologist? Or a short-term thinker debating a long-term thinker? The answer depends on which of these two people, A or B, do you ask. (Yeah, the fact that you asked A, and he confirmed that it actually was consequentialist vs deontologist, doesn't sound to me as convincing as it probably does to you. Sorry.)

And no, I am not arguing here that B is right. I am saying different people will provide different interpretations of the same situation. And guess what: each side is going to frame the situation in a way that makes them the smart ones. The fact that you hear certain interpretation more frequently is simply a reflection of which people you interact more with.


Similarly, I am frustrated with people saying how "guess culture" is bad, and people shouldn't be expected to guess things correctly. Again, this doesn't mean I disagree; I just think there is a trade-off, and things are less obvious than they seem. There are two kinds of people who prefer to debate things explicitly, for different reasons; as an exaggeration let's call them autists and psychopaths.

Autists prefer explicit communication because they suck at guessing; that's legitimate complaint. Psychopaths prefer explicit communication because it allows them to find loopholes, abuse people, and then say: "heh, your fault, you didn't explicitly communicate your expectation that I wouldn't do X" and have their behavior socially accepted (because everyone who cannot flawlessly communicate their extrapolated volition deserves to be converted to paperclips).

When you establish the "tell culture", expect a lot of happy autists, and a lot of abusive assholes. I am not saying whether the trade-off is worth it, or not. I am just saying, don't be surprised when the assholes come. Because they will. And then, either your community will fall apart, or you will gradually invent some new rules to protect yourselves... the rules that other people will now criticize as arbitrary, irrational, and preventing optimal communication.

Comment author: ChristianKl 15 February 2017 09:23:09AM 3 points [-]

Psychopaths prefer explicit communication because it allows them to find loopholes, abuse people, and then say: "heh, your fault, you didn't explicitly communicate your expectation that I wouldn't do X" and have their behavior socially accepted

I don't think that explicit communications automatically leads to more abuse. If someone is forced to make a demand explicitly it's easier to call the person out for making an unreasonable demand then if everything happens in guess mode.

When it comes to sexual activity ask culture often means that there's a requirement for explicit consent. "Yes means Yes" is a demand for ask culture instead of guessing whether the other person wants to have sex. It can lead to less abuse because a person can reasonable complain that they haven't been asked for consent.

Comment author: Viliam 15 February 2017 12:20:27PM *  4 points [-]

I don't think that explicit communications automatically leads to more abuse.

It doesn't lead to more abuse among people who didn't want to abuse others in the first place. But for people who already wanted to abuse others, this creates additional plausible deniability; it allows them to shift the blame to the victim: "hey, I never promised not to do X, and they never asked me not to do X, so it's okay by the rules of your group, right?", where X is some rare ugly behavior that you automatically expect nice people not to do, but it doesn't come to your mind when you explicitly negotiate the boundaries.

To make an analogy; in legal situations it is somewhat expected that people cannot make perfect contracts, so there are two helps. First, the law provides "templates" for your contracts; you start your contract by saying "this is a contract based on law X" which means that the law X provides defaults in case something unexpected happens. For example, you make a contract with me that you will pay me €10 today, and tomorrow I will mow your lawn. I take the money and spend them on beer, then get hit by a car and die. What now? Are my relatives required to return you the money? Can they keep the money and mow your lawn instead of me, even if they are e.g. much worse lawnmowers? Or are you simply supposed to accept the loss? Our mutual agreement didn't include this possibility, because neither of us expected it. (That's the weakness of the "tell culture": anything you forget to mention explicitly is undefined.) In legal situations, basing our contract on law X means that for weird situations we didn't mention explicitly, there is a chance the law X provides an answer. (Analogically, in the "guess culture", all relations are automatically based on the cultural expectations.)

Second, in legal system some laws can override contracts. Libertarians sometimes complain about it, but the idea is that if you sign a 200-page agreement with e.g. your phone company, they cannot in the long and barely legible text cleverly hide a clause that e.g. if you are late at payment, you become their slave. Sorry, the constitution says slavery is illegal, the part of the contract is automatically invalid. This prevents abuse in situations where you deal with someone who is either much better than you at law generally, or can spend more computing power constructing the specific contract than you can spend analyzing it. This prevents you from being exploited too much by people with more computing power.

I think that in real life, no matter how much "tell culture" is our applause light, we actually hold a lot of unspoken assumptions. To give a sex-related example, if one party says "okay, let's have sex, but only with a condom", it is automatically assumed that the other party didn't intentionally pierce the condom, even if such assumption is never communicated explicitly (and I'd bet it almost never is), and it would be quite reasonable to blame the party that pierced the condom, even if they could defend themselves that technically they followed the rules of the "tell culture" to the letter.

Comment author: ChristianKl 15 February 2017 02:33:57PM 2 points [-]

It doesn't lead to more abuse among people who didn't want to abuse others in the first place. But for people who already wanted to abuse others, this creates additional plausible deniability; it allows them to shift the blame to the victim: "hey, I never promised not to do X, and they never asked me not to do X, so it's okay by the rules of your group, right?", where X is some rare ugly behavior that you automatically expect nice people not to do, but it doesn't come to your mind when you explicitly negotiate the boundaries.

When it comes to physical contact "ask culture" doesn't mean it's okay for me to touch a woman's private parts unless she asks me not to touch them. It generally means that instead of guessing whether or not I'm allowed to touch, I have to ask whether I'm allowed to touch.

and it would be quite reasonable to blame the party that pierced the condom, even if they could defend themselves that technically they followed the rules of the "tell culture" to the letter.

I don't think any community that runs on tell culture or ask culture would in this case suggest that's okay to pierce the condom. It seems to me like you are arguing against a strawman.

In tell culture withholding relevant information that the other person needs would be a violation of the tell standards.

Comment author: Viliam 15 February 2017 05:18:36PM 4 points [-]

By the way, I find it amusing that on some level this whole website is about how to have the "tell culture" with a superhuman artificial intelligence. And how difficult it is to consent to the right things.

When it comes to physical contact "ask culture" doesn't mean it's okay for me to touch a woman's private parts unless she asks me not to touch them.

By unspoken assumptions I mean something like this: Is it okay if you afterwards write a blog with detailed descriptions of the sex you had? Is it okay if you simultaneously date her sister / mother / daughter without telling her? (Let's assume that your explicit agreement was "each of us can have other partners, no need to tell each other", but she absolutely didn't expect it could be anyone in her family.) Is it okay if you afterwards tell her that you had sex with her just to win a public bet on a prediction market? Neither of these things violate the explicit agreement you had.

In tell culture withholding relevant information that the other person needs would be a violation of the tell standards.

And how exactly would the "information that the other person needs" be determined, without some cultural assumption? Is it okay if I forget to mention that I am a Sagittarius, or a 1/64 black person, or a trans woman, or that I voted for Trump?

Comment author: ChristianKl 15 February 2017 08:17:30PM 0 points [-]

Let's assume that your explicit agreement was "each of us can have other partners, no need to tell each other"

That's not how an agreement of someone who practices tell culture looks like. It starts with the fact that in tell culture you usually don't make agreement not to tell each other things because both participants value exchange of information.

Secondly oeople in guess culture might have an agreement that boils down to a single sentence but people who practice tell culture usually speak more about the expectations that they have.

And how exactly would the "information that the other person needs" be determined, without some cultural assumption?

I haven't seen anybody who advocated that one should completely ignore cultural assumptions. Ask culture generally means, that you are allowed to ask for something like writing a blog post with detailed descriptions of the sex you had but it in no way implies that you can simply write the post because the other person hasn't explicitly asked you not to write the post.

Comment author: Good_Burning_Plastic 16 February 2017 12:40:40AM 0 points [-]

For example, you make a contract with me that you will pay me €10 today, and tomorrow I will mow your lawn. I take the money and spend them on beer, then get hit by a car and die. What now? Are my relatives required to return you the money? Can they keep the money and mow your lawn instead of me, even if they are e.g. much worse lawnmowers? Or are you simply supposed to accept the loss?

(Not really on topic, but FWIW my intuition tells me that the person who was driving the car that killed you now owes me €10 or however much is needed for me to hire somebody else to mow my lawn as well as you would have, whichever is more.)

"okay, let's have sex, but only with a condom", it is automatically assumed that the other party didn't intentionally pierce the condom, even if such assumption is never communicated explicitly

I'd say that a pierced condom is no longer a condom, so that does technically violate the rules.

Comment author: Good_Burning_Plastic 16 February 2017 12:32:27AM 2 points [-]

Guess culture rules can be abused by assholes as well.

Comment author: Artaxerxes 16 February 2017 01:49:02PM 1 point [-]

I'd even suspect that it's possible that it's even more open to being abused by assholes. Or at least, pushing in the direction of "tell" may mean less opportunity for asshole abuse in many cases.

Comment author: whpearson 13 February 2017 07:39:25PM 3 points [-]

I came across the Toyata Kata today at work.

It looks interesting as a way of organising work that you cannot naturally backwards chain towards.

Comment author: WhySpace 13 February 2017 08:59:01PM *  1 point [-]

If you read it, I'd be interested to know what specific techniques they endorse, and how those differ from the sorts of things LW writes.

The general 4 categories of goals/subgoals Wikipedia lists seem right though. I've see people get stuck on 3 without having any idea what the physical problem was (2) and without more than a 1 hr meeting to set a "strategy" (1) to solve the problems that weren't understood.

  1. In consideration of a vision or direction...

  2. Grasp the current condition.

  3. Define the next target condition.

  4. Move toward that target condition iteratively, which uncovers obstacles that need to be worked on.

Comment author: MrMind 15 February 2017 08:34:21AM 0 points [-]

I feel that marketing, enterpreneurship, science and many other human activities share a common model of exploring a landscape of potential: you're trying to reach some maximum without really knowing much more than your immediate surrounding.
Backward chaining can work really only when you already have a more accurate map of reality.

Comment author: Lumifer 13 February 2017 04:01:03PM 3 points [-]

UK's Daily Express runs with a headline:

AI WARNING: Google’s DeepMind becomes ‘highly aggressive’ when stressed warns search giant

That's "science news", by the way.

Are you happy now?

Comment author: jacob_cannell 13 February 2017 11:49:44PM *  4 points [-]

The levels of misunderstanding in these types of headlines is what is scary. The paper is actually about a single simple model trained for a specific purpose, unrelated to the hundreds of other models various deepmind researchers have trained. But somehow that all too often just get's reduced to "Deepmind's AI", as if it's a monolothic thing. And here it's even worse, where somehow the fictional monolothic AI and Deepmind the company are now confused into one.

Comment author: username2 13 February 2017 04:22:46PM 2 points [-]

Are there interesting youtubers lesswrong is subscribed to ? I never really used youtube and after watching history of japan I get the feeling I'm missing out on some stuff.

Comment author: philh 15 February 2017 01:49:15PM 3 points [-]

I enjoy Every Frame a Painting on cinematography.

Comment author: Houshalter 15 February 2017 03:22:15AM *  2 points [-]

It's really going to depend on your interests. I guess I'll just dump my favorite channels here.

I enjoy some math channels like Numberphile, computerphile, standupmaths, 3blue1brown, Vi Hart, Mathologer, singingbanana, and some of Vsauce.

For "general interesting random facts" there's Tom Scott, Wendover Productions, CGP Grey, Lindybeige, Shadiversity. and Today I Found Out.

Science/Tech/etc: engineerguy, Kurzgesagt, and C0nc0rdance.

Miscellaneous: kaptainkristian, CaptainDisillusion, and the more recent videos of suckerpinch.

Politics: I unsubscribed from most political content a long time ago. But Last Week Tonight and Vox are pretty good.

Humor: That's pretty subjective, but I think everyone should know about The Onion. Also Fitzthislewitz.

Comment author: James_Miller 13 February 2017 06:22:33PM 2 points [-]

I have one YouTube channel on game theory, and another on microeconomics.

Comment author: HungryHippo 15 February 2017 04:54:09PM 1 point [-]

The "Web of Stories" channel has interviews with notable scientists (Freeman Dyson, Marvin Minsky, John Maynard Smith, etc.).

Comment author: cousin_it 16 February 2017 07:53:53PM 0 points [-]

YouTube has tons of good stuff, it's a question of which addiction you want :-) I'm a longtime fan of Accursed Farms.

Comment author: chaosmage 14 February 2017 11:27:43AM 0 points [-]

Computerphile has a lot of interesting material. But my favorite is interviews with famous scientists and Elon Musk.

Comment author: WhySpace 13 February 2017 08:48:47PM 0 points [-]

Someone on Brain Debugging Discussion (the former LW Facebook group) runs a channel called Story Brain. He decomposes movies and such, and tries to figure out what makes them work and why we like certain things.

Comment author: morganism 17 February 2017 10:43:13PM *  0 points [-]

yum.

just found some ming beans sprouts that should go in here when you pour/crack the egg in...

http://www.mariespastiche.com/2014/01/around-world-with-pancakes-chinese-jian.html

http://jianbingjohnnys.com/

just a cheap and easy way to counter the "cheap food" meme everyone is talking about

http://247wallst.com/special-report/2017/02/10/20-groceries-driving-up-your-bill-the-most/print/

Comment author: Elo 17 February 2017 10:48:10PM 1 point [-]

driving up grocery prices:
flour
salt

lost all credibility to me.

Comment author: J_Thomas_Moros 14 February 2017 02:13:55PM 0 points [-]

A number of times in the Metaethics sequence Eliezer Yudkowsky uses comparisons to mathematical ideas and the way they are true. There are actually widely divergent ideas about the nature of math among philosophers.

Does Eliezer spell out his philosophy of math somewhere?

Comment author: Oscar_Cunningham 14 February 2017 03:55:22PM 2 points [-]

There's some in the Logic/Mathematics section here.

Comment author: Thomas 13 February 2017 11:22:04AM 0 points [-]
Comment author: Oscar_Cunningham 13 February 2017 05:12:35PM *  2 points [-]

A tetrahedron of edge length e has volume e^3/sqrt(72). So the 600-cell has surface volume 600e^3/sqrt(72). Let r be the distance from the centre of the 600-cell to the centre of one of its boundary tetrahedra. If we increase r to r+epsilon, the content increases by a shell around the 600-cell of width epsilon. This shell therefore has content epsilon*600e^3/sqrt(72) (plus terms of order epsilon^2 and smaller). Therefore we can find the content of the whole 600-cell by integrating 600e^3/sqrt(72) from r=0 to whatever r is when e=1. It remains to calculate r in terms of e.

Suppose we have a vertex of a polyhedron where n angles of size theta meet symmetrically at a point. Then the angle between adjacent faces (the so called "dihedral angle") is given by 2arcsin(cos(pi/n)/cos(theta/2)). This isn't too hard to see if you draw a little diagram. Thus the angle between two faces in a tetrahedron is 2arcsin(cos(pi/3)/cos(pi/6)). Since five tetrahedra meet at each edge of the 600-cell we can calculate the angle between two tetrahedra to be 2arcsin(cos(pi/5)/cos(theta/2)) where theta is the angle we already calculated between two triangles in a tetrahedron. Call this new angle phi. In a tetrahedron of edge length e the distance from the centre to the centre of a face can be seen to be e/sqrt(24). By considering the triangle formed by the centre of a 600-cell, the centre of one of its boundary tetrahedra, and the centre of one of the tetrahedron's faces, we can therefore see that r = (e/sqrt(24))*tan(phi/2).

After much calculation, all of the trigonometry cancels and we have r=e(sqrt(5/8)+sqrt(3/2)). Then doing the integration we get the content to be (25/4)(sqrt(5)+2)e^4.

Comment author: Thomas 13 February 2017 07:54:47PM *  0 points [-]

Well done, I think.

When I saw this site I have linked, I thought what a shame that the bulk of the cell-600 is "unknown". This would be a perfect problem for those clever guys who solved some problems already!

In a sense, I wasn't wrong.

Comment author: Oscar_Cunningham 13 February 2017 08:26:53PM 0 points [-]

Yeah, it is strange that they don't have it.

It was still a fun problem even if WolframAlpha already knew the answer!

Comment author: gjm 13 February 2017 12:43:42PM 0 points [-]

Vs lbh glcr "ibyhzr bs 600-pryy" vagb Jbysenz Nycun, gur nafjre V nffhzr lbh'er ybbxvat sbe pbzrf fgenvtug bhg.

Comment author: Thomas 13 February 2017 01:04:54PM 0 points [-]

This was quick, if true.

How does Wolfram Alpha knows that? And since when?

http://hi.gher.space/wiki/Hydrochoron

Those guys should update, and also should Wikipedia.

Comment author: gjm 13 February 2017 09:42:46PM 0 points [-]

I don't know how Wolfram Alpha knows; I'm fearfully ignorant of this sort of thing myself. Perhaps there's a well-known decomposition of the 600-cell into nice simple bits whose 4-volume is easy to calculate?

Comment author: Oscar_Cunningham 13 February 2017 10:24:09PM 1 point [-]

The method I use below (integrate its surface area) works for every regular polytope, so it could be the method Wolfram Alpha uses. The only difficult part is simplification of a complicated trigonometric expression, but Wolfram Alpha eats those for breakfast.

On the other hand there are only three families of regular polytope above dimension 4, so maybe it just knows a general formula for those three families and then just has the five exceptional regular polytopes programmed in as special cases.

Comment author: gjm 14 February 2017 12:00:47AM 0 points [-]

The second of those seems extremely likely. (But, I repeat, I don't really know anything about this stuff.)

Comment author: gjm 13 February 2017 12:40:52PM 0 points [-]

What do you mean by "general formula for the bulk"? I mean, (1) are you using "bulk" as a synonym for hypervolume or does it mean something else, and (2) along what axes are you wanting answerers to generalize? Obviously allowing for different edge length is trivial. Are you looking for a formula for arbitrary convex polytopes, or what?