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Comment author: Duncan_Sabien 01 December 2015 05:22:06AM 75 points [-]

[Coauthor's note] If anyone is willing to offer me karma by upvoting this comment, such that I can post my own stuff someday instead of piggybacking on Anna, I'd appreciate it.

Comment author: iceman 21 July 2015 07:20:37PM 50 points [-]

Donated $25,000. My employer will also match $6,000 of that, for a grand total of $31,000.

Comment author: Rain 21 July 2015 01:22:45AM 50 points [-]

I donated $5000 today and continue my $1000 monthly donations.

Comment author: James_Miller 04 March 2015 03:46:02PM 43 points [-]

It seemed rather short

Misao Okawa, the world's oldest person, when asked "how she felt about living for 117 years."

Comment author: orthonormal 19 March 2015 04:58:54AM 38 points [-]

Why a separate forum, you ask? For one thing, a narrower focus is better for this purpose: sending academic researchers to Less Wrong led to them wondering why people were talking about polyamory, cryonics, and Harry Potter on the same site as the decision theory posts...

In response to LessWrong 2.0
Comment author: kilobug 03 December 2015 12:32:54PM 37 points [-]

Personally, I liked LW for being an integrated place with all that : the Sequences, interesting posts and discussions between rationalists/transhumanists (be it original thoughts/viewpoints/analysis, news related to those topics, links to related fanfiction, book suggestion, ...), and the meetup organization (I went to several meetup in Paris).

If that were to be replaced by many different things (one for news, one or more for discussion, one for meetups, ...) I probably wouldn't bother.

Also, I'm not on Facebook and would not consider going there. I think replacing the open ecosystem of Internet by a proprietary platform is a very dangerous trend for future of innovation, and I oppose the global surveillance that Facebook is part of. I know we are entering politics which is considered "dirty" by many here, but politics is part of the Many Causes, and I don't think we should alienate people for political reasons. The current LW is politically neutral, and allows "socialists" to discuss without much friction with "libertarians", which is part of its merits, and we should keep that.

Comment author: lukeprog 21 July 2015 01:56:19AM 37 points [-]

Donated $300.

In response to LessWrong 2.0
Comment author: shminux 03 December 2015 05:19:00AM 36 points [-]

I had been a small-time LW regular for about 3 years and witnessed its decline until I stopped commenting a couple of months back. It was frustrating to see Eliezer, Yvain, Luke and others leave for other social media platforms, and even more to watch them fragment their writings further between personal blogs, FB, Reddit and tumblr. Not because it's a wrong thing to do, just because it's harder to follow and the commenting system is usually even worse than here. Well, except for Reddit. Without a strong leader charismatic emerging and willing to add quality content and drive the changes, I don't expect any site redesign to revive this rather zombified forum. Or maybe if the forum is redesigned one would emerge, who knows. Chicken and egg.

Or maybe it should be a rationality-related aggregator/hub, where all relevant links get posted and discussed. So that one could see at a glance that Scott A posted something on his blog, Eliezer on tumbler, Brienne on Facebook, gwern on his site and someone else on twitter or reddit. All on one page. There are various sites like that around. With the ability to comment locally, or go to the source and discuss it there. Maybe even add linkbacks to this site.

Just my 2c.

Comment author: James_Miller 21 July 2015 12:45:17AM 35 points [-]

Donated $100 and 5000 Stellar.

In response to LessWrong 2.0
Comment author: Alicorn 03 December 2015 08:11:12AM 33 points [-]

I have an old list of halfbaked post ideas. At some point I lost sight of what things were "rationality things" and what things were just "things, that I happened to want to talk about with rationalists, because those are the cool people"; and in the presence of this confusion I defaulted to categorizing everything as the latter - because it was easy; I live here now; I can go weeks without interacting with anybody who isn't at least sort of rationalist-adjacent. If I want to talk to rationalists about a thing I can just bring it up the next time I'm at a party, or when my roommates come downstairs; I don't have to write an essay and subject it to increasingly noisy judgment about whether it is in the correct section/website/universe.

I think "things that you happen to want to talk about with rationalists" is a legit category to want an outlet for and having an explicit place for that (which has virtues like "is not literally Tumblr") would be nice. Useful norms might include: one-paragraph OPs normalized, tongue-in-cheek "Rational [Household Object / Unrelated Hobby / Basic Life Skill]" titles allowed/encouraged, granting OP some veto power about what sorts of comments and commenters are allowed under their post, aggressively encouraged and standard-formatted tagging system.

Comment author: Sarunas 01 July 2015 12:26:26PM *  31 points [-]

Kissinger was not rushing to end our conversation that morning, and I had one more message to give him. “Henry, there’s something I would like to tell you, for what it’s worth, something I wish I had been told years ago. You’ve been a consultant for a long time, and you’ve dealt a great deal with top secret information. But you’re about to receive a whole slew of special clearances, maybe fifteen or twenty of them, that are higher than top secret.

“I’ve had a number of these myself, and I’ve known other people who have just acquired them, and I have a pretty good sense of what the effects of receiving these clearances are on a person who didn’t previously know they even existed. And the effects of reading the information that they will make available to you.

“First, you’ll be exhilarated by some of this new information, and by having it all―so much! incredible!―suddenly available to you. But second, almost as fast, you will feel like a fool for having studied, written, talked about these subjects, criticized and analyzed decisions made by presidents for years without having known of the existence of all this information, which presidents and others had and you didn’t, and which must have influenced their decisions in ways you couldn’t even guess. In particular, you’ll feel foolish for having literally rubbed shoulders for over a decade with some officials and consultants who did have access to all this information you didn’t know about and didn’t know they had, and you’ll be stunned that they kept that secret from you so well.

“You will feel like a fool, and that will last for about two weeks. Then, after you’ve started reading all this daily intelligence input and become used to using what amounts to whole libraries of hidden information, which is much more closely held than mere top secret data, you will forget there ever was a time when you didn’t have it, and you’ll be aware only of the fact that you have it now and most others don’t... and that all those other people are fools.

"Over a longer period of time―not too long, but a matter of two or three years―you’ll eventually become aware of the limitations of this information. There is a great deal that it doesn’t tell you, it’s often inaccurate, and it can lead you astray just as much as the New York Times can. But that takes. a while to learn.

“In the meantime it will have become very hard for you to learn from anybody who doesn’t have these clearances. Because you’ll be thinking as you listen to them: ‘What would this man be telling me if he knew what I know? Would he be giving me the same advice, or would it totally change his predictions and recommendations?’ And that mental exercise is so torturous that after a while you give it up and just stop listening. I’ve seen this with my superiors, my colleagues... and with myself.

“You will deal with a person who doesn’t have those clearances only from the point of view of what you want him to believe and what impression you want him to go away with, since you’ll have to lie carefully to him about what you know. In effect, you will have to manipulate him. You’ll give up trying to assess what he has to say. The danger is, you’ll become something like a moron. You’ll become incapable of learning from most people in the world, no matter how much experience they may have in their particular areas that may be much greater than yours.”

It was a speech I had thought through before, one I’d wished someone had once given me, and I’d long hoped to be able to give it to someone who was just about to enter the world of “real” executive secrecy. I ended by saying that I’d long thought of this kind of secret information as something like the potion Circe gave to the wanderers and shipwrecked men who happened on her island, which turned them into swine. They became incapable of human speech and couldn’t help one another to find their way home.

  • Daniel Ellsberg, Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers
Comment author: Davis_Kingsley 21 July 2015 08:35:48PM 31 points [-]

I just donated $200.00. Last year's developments have been very promising and I look forward to seeing MIRI progress even further.

Comment author: taryneast 21 July 2015 09:08:18AM 31 points [-]

I donated $100 (AU$140)

Comment author: fortyeridania 02 March 2015 10:15:40PM *  30 points [-]

One kid said to me, “See that bird? What kind of bird is that?” I said, “I haven’t the slightest idea what kind of a bird it is.” He says, “It’s a brown-throated thrush (or something). Your father doesn’t teach you anything!” But it was the opposite. My father had taught me, looking at a bird, he says, “Do you know what that bird is? It’s a brown-throated thrush. But in Portuguese, it’s a Bom da Peida; in Italian, a Chutto Lapittida." He says, "In Chinese, it’s a Chung-long-tah, and in Japanese, it’s a Katano Tekeda, et cetera." He says, "Now you know all the languages you want to know what the name of that bird is, and when when you’re finished with all that," he says, "you’ll know absolutely nothing whatever about the bird. You’ll only know about humans in different places, and what they call the bird. Well," he says, "let’s look at the bird and what it’s doing."

--Richard Feynman, source. Full video (The above passage happens at about the 7:00 mark in the full version.)

N.B. The transcript provided differs slightly from the video. I have followed the video.

Related to: Replace the Symbol with the Substance

In response to comment by jkaufman on LessWrong 2.0
Comment author: gjm 03 December 2015 12:40:01PM 30 points [-]

(I am not ingres even though I am asking a question you asked them.)

I don't like Facebook as a venue for such things because:

  • It is a walled garden; in general material on FB is not visible in web searches and can't be linked to directly.
    • I think some categories of public post on FB are linkable and searchable, but I'm not sure exactly what, and I suspect comments on linkable-searchable-things are not themselves linkable and searchable, and (see the next point) I have no reason to think that what's linkable and searchable now will remain so in the future.
  • Anything on Facebook could disappear, or become less accessible in some other way, or become surrounded by billions of annoying advertisements, at Facebook's whim, and nothing I know about Facebook makes me think such outcomes are terribly unlikely.
  • I have to assume that anything I do on Facebook is being tracked and machine-learning-ified by Facebook. I don't see any super-obvious actual problem with FB knowing that I talk about things with rationalists, but on general principles I want as little as possible to be visible to Facebook.
  • I have to assume that anything I do on Facebook is going to be shown to everyone I am "friends" with on Facebook. Again, it's not going to be news to any of them that I talk about things with rationalists, but again I have no particular wish to advertise everything I do to everyone I know.
  • Any time I am on Facebook, I am bombarded with social fluff. I value the social fluff a lot (otherwise I wouldn't be using Facebook at all), but I don't want it in my face when I'm trying to have a discussion about AI safety or effective altruism or any of the other at-least-one-notch-more-intellectual things that come up on LW.
  • I do not want to contribute to Facebook's increasing domination of the web. I use it for social networking because really there's no alternative, but the less support I can give to the facebookification of the internet the happier I shall be.
  • Some people (for reasons resembling the above, or other reasons of their own) don't use Facebook at all, and I think it's very unfortunate for them to be excluded from discussion.
Comment author: Rain 21 July 2015 01:18:50PM 30 points [-]

Somewhat upper middle class job; low cost of living, inexpensive hobbies, making donations a priority.

Comment author: hairyfigment 04 April 2015 09:00:06PM 28 points [-]

No, Mr. Shepard, with respect, (that) is not the moral of the story. The moral of the story is that, if you have grounds to believe there is a ferocious predator at large, don't appoint as your sole watchman a twelve-year-old child whom you have resolved to ignore.

  • Mitchell and Webb prosecuting attorney, from the sketch, "The boy who cried wolf"
Comment author: rationalnoodles 03 October 2015 06:45:05PM 29 points [-]

The history of the shuttle is a typical example of a generic problem that occurs frequently in the development of science and technology, the problem of premature choice. Premature choice means betting all your money on one horse before you have found out whether she is lame. Politicians and administrators responsible for large project are often obsessed with avoiding waste. To avoid waste they find it reasonable to choose one design as soon as possible and shut down the support of alternatives. ... The evolution of science and technology is a Darwinian process of the survival of the fittest. In science and technology, as in biological evolution, waste is the secret of efficiency. Without waste you cannot find out which horse is the fittest. This is a hard lesson for politicians and administrators to learn.

Freeman Dyson, From Eros to Gaia

Comment author: benjaminhaley 10 April 2015 10:53:32PM *  29 points [-]

I've established a habit of putting my money where my mouth is to encourage myself to make more firm predictions. When I am talking with someone and we disagree, I ask if they want to bet a dollar on it. For example, I say, "Roger Ebert directed Beyond the Valley of the Dolls". My wife says, "No, he wrote it.". Then I offer to bet. We look up the answer, and I give her a dollar.

This is a good habit for many reasons.

  1. It is fun to bet. Fun to win. And (kinda) fun to lose.
  2. It forces people to evaluate honestly. The same people that say "I'm sure..." will back off their point when asked to bet a dollar on the outcome.
  3. It forces people to negotiate to concrete terms. For example, I told a friend that a 747 burns 30,000 lbs of fuel an hour. He said no way. We finally settled on the bet "Ben thinks that a fully loaded 747 will burn more than 10,000 lbs of fuel per hour under standard cruising conditions". (I won that bet, it burns ~25,000 lbs of fuel/hour under these conditions).
  4. A dollar feels more important than it actually is, so people treat the bets seriously even though they are not very serious. For this reason, I think it is important to actually exchange a dollar bill at the end, rather than treating it as just an abstract dollar.

I've learned a lot from this habit.

  1. I'm right more often than not (~75%). But I'm wrong a lot too (~25%). This is more wrong than I feel. I feel 95% confident. I shouldn't be so confident.
  2. The person proposing the bet is usually right. My wife has gotten in the habit too. If I propose we bet, I'm usually right. If she proposes we bet I've learned to usually back down.
  3. People frequently overstate their confidence. I mentioned this above, but it bears repeating. Some people regularly will use phrases like "I am sure" or say something emphatically. People are calibrated to express their beliefs differently. But when you ask them to bet a dollar you get a more consistent calibration. People that are over-confident often back away from their positions. Really interesting considering that its only a dollar on the line.
  4. Over time people learn to calibrate better. At first my wife would agree to nearly every bet I proposed. Now she usually doesn't want to. When she agrees to a bet now, I get worried.
In response to LessWrong 2.0
Comment author: Jacobian 04 December 2015 08:44:58PM 28 points [-]

One more use I have for LessWrong: learning about subjects from people whom I trust to be smart and rational. A while back I wanted to learn up on perceptual control theory, I found RichardKenneways' and Vaniver's posts a hundred times better than Wikipedia.

This is an invaluable resource for me that I would hate to lose. Even if the quality of new stuff being written on LW is declining, the quality of stuff that I'm reading on LW is still consistently excellent. I really hope we would find a way to keep this aspect going.

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