Less Wrong is a community blog devoted to refining the art of human rationality. Please visit our About page for more information.

Comment author: APMason 02 September 2013 10:47:56PM 2 points [-]

Well, now he has another reason not to change his mind. Seems unwise, even if he's right about everything.

Comment author: ThisSpaceAvailable 22 July 2013 02:40:22AM 0 points [-]
  1. What does "an action that harms another agent" mean? For instance, if I threaten to not give you a chicken unless you give me $5, does "I don't give you a chicken" count as "a course of action that harms another agent"? Or does it have to be an active course, rather than act of omission?

  2. Is it still blackmail if it's "justified"? For instance, if you steal me car, and I threaten to call the police if you don't give it back, is that blackmail?

Comment author: APMason 29 July 2013 10:10:15PM -1 points [-]

What does "an action that harms another agent" mean? For instance, if I threaten to not give you a chicken unless you give me $5, does "I don't give you a chicken" count as "a course of action that harms another agent"? Or does it have to be an active course, rather than act of omission?

It's not blackmail unless, given that I don't give you $5, you would be worse of, CDT-wise, not giving me the chicken than giving me the chicken. Which is to say, you really want to give me the chicken but you're threatening to withhold it because you think you can make $5 out of it. If I were a Don't-give-$5-bot, or just broke, you would have no reason to threaten to withhold the chicken. If you don't want to give me the chicken, but are willing to do so if I give you $5, that's just normal trade.

Comment author: APMason 23 January 2013 01:30:48AM 14 points [-]

"Wanna see something cool?"

Comment author: RobertLumley 04 September 2012 06:45:54PM 0 points [-]

Music Thread

Comment author: APMason 09 September 2012 03:16:45AM -1 points [-]

Bob Dylan's new album ("Tempest") is perfect. At the time of posting, you can listen to it free on the itunes store. I suggest you do so.

On another note, I'm currently listening to all the Miles Davis studio recordings and assembling my own best-of list. It'll probably be complete by next month, and I'll be happy to share the playlist with anyone who's interested.

Comment author: RobertLumley 01 August 2012 06:28:25PM 0 points [-]

Music Thread

Comment author: APMason 17 August 2012 01:12:11AM 0 points [-]

Thomas Bergersen is just wonderful. Also, I've been listening to a lot of Miles Davis (I'm always listening to a lot of Miles Davis, but I haven't posted in one of these threads before). I especially recommend In a Silent Way.

Comment author: [deleted] 12 August 2012 11:36:10PM *  1 point [-]

I finished reading 1Q84, by Haruki Murakami.

My first reaction upon finishing the book was, "Well, if his previous work wasn't enough to merit a Nobel Prize, this one isn't going to help."

Good things: Murakami is still the only currently living master of magical realism, and this could be his last major work. The most charitable interpretation of the book is that it is the culmination of all of his work on loneliness and alienation. It takes very traditional Western magical elements like the fae, doppleganger, and immaculate conception, and weaves them in with traditional Japanese cultural elements like NHK fee collectors, filial piety, and the hikikomori. The title's connection with Orwell's 1984 is subtle and mostly well-done.

Bad things: Too often do characters say or think that something that was clearly arranged by the author happened "by coincidence"; in general the writing is somewhat lazy. No explanation is given as to why, e.g., a policewoman in '84 would know who Marshall McLuhan is. Egregious abuse of Occam's razor (by name) in the third part to mask the author feeding the plot-so-far into the mind of a character he needlessly recycled from The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.

In response to comment by [deleted] on August 2012 Media Thread
Comment author: APMason 13 August 2012 01:07:44AM 1 point [-]

Murakami is still the only currently living master of magical realism

Salman Rushdie. Salman Rushdie Salman Rushdie Salman Rushdie. Salman Rushdie.

Comment author: pragmatist 10 August 2012 03:41:15AM *  3 points [-]

Upvoted so hard.

Borges is pretty much my favorite writer of fiction. When I first read him, I frequently experienced a genuine sense of wonder that fiction hadn't ever evoked in me before (and hasn't really since, although Blindsight, Italo Calvino, The Book of the New Sun and some of Nabokov came close).

I recommend picking up his Collected Fictions. All his short stories, very well translated. Beautiful beautiful stuff.

Comment author: APMason 13 August 2012 01:06:23AM 1 point [-]

If you haven't read much other Italo Calvino, "Invisible Cities" is really, really, really great.

Comment author: tgb 06 August 2012 01:45:44AM 4 points [-]

Read "The Stars My Destination" by Alfred Bester and am torn between liking it and not. It was recommended as a 'must read' for anyone who liked HPMOR by someone on r/hpmor. It really has no rationality in it to speak of - the character spends more time punching his way through problems then out-thinking them. There's a couple cool sequences where the character pushes himself to learn in harsh environments, but that's about it. At several points through the book I was severely tempted to put it down and not finish but at other times I was quite caught up in it. It reminds me somewhat of Ayn Rand's works in that the author has decided their character is going to be really good at things and so spends a fair amount of time telling the reader how awesome their character is. It seems to have worked though, given that the version I read has a gushing intro from Neil Gaimman about how gripping and powerful the main character is. I wasn't convinced.

I reread "Dune" by Frank Herbert. It's even better than I remembered and has some fun rationalist themes (though without enough details in those themes to make it comparable to HPMOR). I tried reading the second book years ago and got tired half-way through. I might try again.

I also read some of Oscar Wilde. I was a little disappointed in "The Importance of Being Earnest", probably due to my having read P.G. Wodehouse who has pretty similar story lines. I was expecting by his reputation more cleverness in the story. That said, his writing is quite entertaining and I found myself laughing out loud several times.

Comment author: APMason 13 August 2012 01:02:18AM *  2 points [-]

I have to say, as a more-or-less lifelongish fan of Oscar Wilde (first read "The Happy Prince" when I was eight or nine), that the ending to Ernest is especially weak. I like the way he builds his house of cards in that play, and I like the dialogue, but (and I think I probably speak for a lot of Wilde fans here), the way he knocks the cards down really isn't all that clever or funny. For a smarter Wilde play, see "A Woman of No Importance", although his best works are his childrens' stories, "The Picture of Dorian Grey", and "Ballad of Reading Gaol" (although it is not, in fact, the case that "Every man kills the thing he loves".)

(Also I should mention that I recently reread "The Code of the Woosters" and laughed myself inside-out.)

Comment author: private_messaging 29 July 2012 08:43:13PM *  3 points [-]

Yea, and after you punish Guybrush, you are left with certainty that Guybrush was too stupid to be worth punishing, and have 1 utilon less. Meanwhile, all the time before you have very good incentive to pretend to have a good reason to waste 1 utilon just to see Guybrush taken out. (Fortunately one can just have natural reaction of rage at Guybrush, instead of pretending to be nuts.)

It is really difficult to discuss a topic where the most rational action, by the very argumentation in the topic itself, is to lie and not discuss the topic. For all we know all the one boxers out there just lied, the brain scanning technology being absent and it being important to maintain image.

edit: whenever I would punish, would depend to result of my analysis of Guybrush's source code, btw. The Godel's incompleteness theorem (and Halting problem) guarantee that there will be a thought experiment where one can't help it but lose. Also, if Guybrush is running on some fuzzy hardware that's being flipped left and right by thermal noise... it isn't quite exactly an utility maximizer

Comment author: APMason 29 July 2012 08:47:02PM 1 point [-]

The point I was making in my first comment was that you never actually encounter such a situation, if, in fact, you would punish Guybrush - that's implicit in the set up of the thought experiment. However, if you wouldn't, then you can encounter such a situation, because then Guybrush can safely steal from you without worrying about punishment.

Comment author: private_messaging 29 July 2012 08:05:49PM *  1 point [-]

Although I do agree it's the right decision, if you ever were, impossibly, to find yourself in such a situation - otherwise Omega's making your decision for you.

Replace million with a billion and thousand with a million, still feeling like choosing transparent empty box?

The whole rationale of going ahead making a new decision theory was to win. The idea was to go against this same bone-headedness of physically-causal decision theory that would proclaim that it is the right decision to choose to two box and get a mere thousand. (note: for a Platonic realist, who self identifies with the algorithm, the 'causal' means something different and this results in one boxing. Likewise for the causal decision theory that assumes it does not know if the environment is reality or the environment is simulator inside predictor).

Comment author: APMason 29 July 2012 08:29:40PM 1 point [-]

There are two players: you and, let's say, Guybrush Threepwood. You each begin with 10 utilons - a utilon having exactly one util's value in each of your respective utility functions. Guybrush has the option of stealing 5 utilons from you. If he chooses to do so, you may then pay 1 utilon to punish him, in which case he loses 10 utilons, which are removed from the game. You only play once, and you have access to each other's source code, and Guybrush is a utility-maximiser.

Well, let's say Guybrush steals from you. Since the goal is to win, I suppose you choose to let him get away with it, because you'd be 1 utilon worse off if you punished him.

View more: Next