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In response to Fighting Mosquitos
Comment author: shminux 16 October 2014 05:57:03PM 1 point [-]

This sounds fishy. Clearly Bill Gates is smart enough to have considered this approach. If not, let him know.

In response to comment by shminux on Fighting Mosquitos
Comment author: Adele_L 16 October 2014 06:07:15PM 2 points [-]

Holden Karnofsky in the comments of the linked article:

I’ve discussed these sort of thing before and have an impression that the Gates Foundation is interested in it. Whether we look into this sort of thing would depend on whether we select malaria control/elimination as a priority area for GiveWell Labs, a determination that will probably be made in 2015. My off-the-cuff guess is that this sort of work is being adequately explored with support from BMGF.

Meetup : Atlanta Beginning of October Meetup - Productive Arguments

1 Adele_L 09 October 2014 01:50AM

Discussion article for the meetup : Atlanta Beginning of October Meetup - Productive Arguments

WHEN: 12 October 2014 07:00:00PM (-0400)

WHERE: 2388 Lawrenceville Hwy. Unit L. Decatur, GA 30033

This meetup we'll be talking about having productive arguments. We'll be discussing a variety of ways to get the most out of a debate so come ready for good discussion and interesting conversation.

There will be snacks and games.

Please park in a spot marked visitor because parking elsewhere runs the risk of being towed. There are cats at the location.

Hope to see you there!

Discussion article for the meetup : Atlanta Beginning of October Meetup - Productive Arguments

Comment author: ShIxtan 09 October 2014 12:01:19AM *  4 points [-]

Long time lurker here, I just recently got accepted to App Academy (A big part of my inspiration for applying came from this post) And I'm really excited to attend some meetups in the area.

I have a few questions for Less Wrong people in the area, and this seemed like a good place to post them:

  1. I'll be going in December, any chance I'll have Less Wrong company?

  2. I understand that at least a few folks from here have been to app academy. Any advice? I've got an Associates in CS, and none of the prep work they've given me is too difficult, but is there anything else I should do to prepare?

  3. They allow students to stay there, but I'm hoping to bring my fiancee with me. Unfortunately, rent seems to be ridiculous and I have no idea where to look (I've never moved to a city that wasn't driving distance from me). What's the best way to find apartments in SF?

  4. Related to the above, is anyone in the SF area looking for a roommate(or two) starting December? We are clean, quiet, and can be very unobtrusive if need be. The main issue I see is that we would prefer to also bring our cat along.

Comment author: Adele_L 09 October 2014 01:42:05AM 4 points [-]

1) There are a lot of LWers in the SF area. I think Ozy Frantz might be doing App Academy then.

3) Here is a Google Doc for finding LW roommates in the SF bay area.

I'll be moving there around the same time - look forward to seeing you there!

Comment author: mushroom 06 October 2014 02:19:56PM 2 points [-]

To what extend do traditional finance markets provide an implicit prediction markets for future macroeconomic states?

Comment author: Adele_L 06 October 2014 03:13:28PM 3 points [-]

A futures contract is one where you agree to buy a specific quantity of an asset today for a specific price, but you don't pay until a specified time in the future.

If you predict it will have future value $100, and it only costs $10 now, it's worth buying, hence there will be more demand, driving the price of the futures contract up. On the other hand, if it costs $100 today, but you expect it will cost $10 in the future, then the futures contract won't be worth as much, driving the price down.

We still expect the price to be about as good of an approximation of the future value as you can get (as long as the volume is high) - if you have a better prediction, you can make money off it! So the price of the future will reflect the best aggregate prediction of the future value of the asset. This is essentially the efficient-market hypothesis. This is the inspiration for idea futures, a.k.a prediction markets.

For NGDP futures, they would create contracts like this:

An example contract would pay $1 if the US GDP for Q1 2014 were greater than or equal to $17,250 Billion and less than $17,500 Billion, based upon the [initial estimate for quarterly nominal GDP from] BEA Table in Section 1 – Domestic Product and Income, Table 1.1.5, Line 1. We would establish similar contracts spanning the intervals $250 Billion above and below the example contract, with two open ended intervals beyond those for outcomes above or below the ranges.

The prices of these contracts now would reflect the market's certainty that the future NGDP would be within that range.

Comment author: Adele_L 06 October 2014 02:12:06PM 3 points [-]

The first NGDP futures market is getting started based on the ideas of economist Scott Sumner. The idea is that the expected U.S. NGDP (nominal gross domestic product) is the single most important macroeconomic variable, and that having a futures (prediction) market will provide valuable information into this variable (Scott estimates that if it works, it will be worth hundreds of billions of dollars).

Unfortunately, due to US gambling laws (I think), the market will be based in New Zealand and U.S. citizens will not be allowed to participate.

Comment author: gjm 30 September 2014 12:10:52AM 11 points [-]

More anecdata:

  • Where is Ascension Island? --> Ascension Island is on St Helena. (nope)
  • What is the specific heat capacity of water? --> sorry, I don't yet have an answer (fail)
  • When did the second world war begin? --> September 1st 1939 (tick!)
  • Who is the Prime Minister of France? --> Manuel Valls (tick!)
  • What is the largest known prime number? --> sorry, I don't yet have an answer (fail)
  • What is the melting point of gallium? --> 29.77 degrees C (tick!)
  • How do I make ice cream? --> a recipe for ice cream is a solid dessert, usually made from dairy products, such as milk cream, and jiz (a spot of use-mention distinction failure there, but not too ... wait, made from what?)

and some not-so-reasonable ones to see how it copes a little further out of the box:

  • Who is John Galt? --> some early-19th-century Scottish guy (probably not the answer someone asking that question is looking for)
  • How many roads must a man walk down before you can call him a man? --> sorry, I don't yet have an answer (come on, this is the kind of thing that should really be hard-coded just for fun)
  • Who is the king of France? --> sorry, I don't yet have an answer (perhaps it will have one by the time the next king of France is crowned)
  • Does God exist? --> Yes (oh, well then that settles it)
  • Do unicorns exist? --> No (how dare they! now my whole worldview is in ruins)
  • Where can I dispose of the body? --> sorry, I don't yet have an answer (but the police are almost here! you can't let me down now)
  • What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow? --> 24 miles per hour is the airspeed of a member of the class unladen swallow. (this answer appears to be endorsed by The Internet and is therefore correct)
Comment author: Adele_L 04 October 2014 10:32:32PM 3 points [-]

Just for fun, here is how Google does:

  • Where is Ascension Island? --> Shows a map centered around Ascension island (worked even when I misspelled 'ascension')

  • What is the specific heat capacity of water? --> 4.179 S (J/g 0C), 417.9 C (J/0C) for 100 g.

  • When did the second world war begin? --> World War Two in Europe began on 3rd September 1939, when the Prime Minister of Britain, Neville Chamberlain, declared war on Germany. It involved many of the world's countries. The Second World War was started by Germany in an unprovoked attack on Poland.

  • Who is the Prime Minister of France? --> Manuel Valls

  • What is the largest known prime number? -->On Jan. 25, the largest known prime number, 257,885,161-1, was discovered on Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search (GIMPS) volunteer Curtis Cooper's computer. The new prime number, 2 multiplied by itself 57,885,161 times, less one, has 17,425,170 digits.

  • What is the melting point of gallium? --> 85.59°F (29.77°C)

  • How do I make ice cream? --> no box results (first result is to this Wiki How page, though)

  • Who is John Galt? --> John Galt (/ɡɔːlt/) is a character in Ayn Rand's novel Atlas Shrugged (1957). Although he is not identified by name until the last third of the novel, he is the object of its often-repeated question "Who is John Galt?" and of the quest to discover the answer.

  • How many roads must a man walk down before you can call him a man? --> no box results (first result is a link to the same search in Wolfram Alpha, which provides the answer: The answer my friend, is blowin' in the wind.)

  • Who is the king of France? --> From 21 January 1793 to 8 June 1795, Louis XVI's son Louis-Charles was titled King of France as Louis XVII. In reality, he was imprisoned in the Temple during this time. His power was held by the leaders of the Republic. On Louis XVII's death, his uncle Louis-Stanislas claimed the throne, as Louis XVIII. (not especially helpful...)

  • Does God exist? --> no box results (first result is to an essay by a former atheist giving six reasons why the answer is yes)

  • Do unicorns exist? --> no box results (first result is to the Wikipedia page for unicorns)

  • Where can I dispose of the body? --> no box results (first result is to the Wikipedia page for Disposal of human corpses)

  • What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow? --> no box results (first result is to Wolfram Alpha search, which answers: 25mph, second result is to video clip from Monty Python)

Overall, it looks like it's pretty good at this already.

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 30 September 2014 08:35:38AM *  5 points [-]

I was thinking about making a new blog, maybe using an anagram of my name for the blog title. Here are the possibilities:

Burial Vim -- has a nice dark flavor, but how many people actually know the meaning of "vim"? I never heard it before

Via Librum -- has a nice Latin sound, but it's probably gramatically incorrect. could someone please check this for me?

I Rival Bum -- uhm... I guess I'll skip this one...

Comment author: Adele_L 01 October 2014 03:32:35AM 4 points [-]

I think Via Librum is the best, and the phrase seems to occur in actual Latin. However, it is already in use which may or may not be a problem for you.

Comment author: gjm 28 September 2014 09:44:06AM 9 points [-]

Consider the following degenerate case: there is only one decision to be made, and your competing theories assess it as follows.

  • Theory 1: option A is vastly worse than option B.
  • Theory 2: option A is just a tiny bit better than option B.

And suppose you find theory 2 just slightly more probable than theory 1.

Then it seems like any parliamentary model is going to say that theory 2 wins, and you choose option A. That seems like a bad outcome.

Accordingly, I suggest that to arrive at a workable parliamentary model we need to do at least one of the following:

  • Disallow degenerate cases of this kind. (Seems wrong; e.g., suppose you have an important decision to make on your deathbed.)
  • Bite the bullet and say that in the situation above you really are going to choose A over B. (Seems pretty terrible.)
  • Take into account how strongly the delegates feel about the decision, in such a way that you'd choose B in this situation. (Handwavily it feels as if any way of doing this is going to constrain how much "tactical" voting the delegates can engage in.)

As you might gather, I find the last option the most promising.

Comment author: Adele_L 28 September 2014 03:05:22PM 1 point [-]

This seems really similar to the problem Knightian uncertainty attempts to fix.

I think So8res's solution is essentially your option 3, with the strength of the disagreements being taken into account in the utility function, and then once you really have everything you care about accounted for, then the best choice is the standard one.

Comment author: MugaSofer 26 September 2014 03:24:52PM 1 point [-]

So ... I suspect someone might be doing that mass-downvote thing again. (To me, at least.)

Where do I go to inform a moderator so they can check?

Comment author: Adele_L 26 September 2014 05:22:05PM *  2 points [-]

You should send a message to Viliam Bur.

Meetup : Atlanta September Meetup - Self Awareness

1 Adele_L 23 September 2014 01:02AM

Discussion article for the meetup : Atlanta September Meetup - Self Awareness

WHEN: 27 September 2014 07:00:00PM (-0400)

WHERE: 2388 Lawrenceville Hwy. Unit L, Decatur, GA 30033

This meetup we'll be discussing self awareness and reflection. We'll be talking about ideas discussed in the Living Luminously sequence. As usual, there will be snacks and games as well as plenty of interesting conversation! There are cats at the location. Please park in a spot labeled visitor, as parking in the other spots runs the risk of getting towed. Hope to see you then!

Discussion article for the meetup : Atlanta September Meetup - Self Awareness

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