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[Link] Against Compromise, or, Deciding as a Team without Succombing to Entropy

6 Alexandros 08 January 2017 01:22PM
Comment author: Lumifer 30 November 2016 03:40:02PM 4 points [-]

If I were NRx, I would feel very amused at the idea of LW people coming to believe that they need to invite an all-powerful dictator to save them from decay and ruin... :-D

Comment author: Alexandros 02 December 2016 08:55:54AM 0 points [-]

LW has a BDFL already. He's just not very interested and (many) people don't believe he's able to restore the website. We didn't "come to believe" anything.

Comment author: Lumifer 29 November 2016 06:00:50PM *  3 points [-]

An additional point is that you you can only grant the DFL part. The B part cannot be granted but can only be hoped for.

Comment author: Alexandros 02 December 2016 08:54:23AM 0 points [-]

An additional additional point is that the dictator can indeed quit and is not forced to kill themselves to get out of it. So it's actually not FL. And in fact, it's arguably not even a dictatorship, as it depends on the consent of the governed. Yes, BDFL is intentionally outrageous to make a point. What's yours?

Comment author: John_Maxwell_IV 28 November 2016 05:28:55AM 5 points [-]

Do we know anyone who actually has experience doing product management? (Or has the sort of resume that the best companies like to see when they hire for product management roles. Which is not necessarily what you might expect.)

Comment author: Alexandros 30 November 2016 04:24:31AM 6 points [-]

I've done my fair bit of product management, mostly on resin.io and related projects (etcher.io and resinos.io) and can offer some help in re-imagining the vision behind lw.

Comment author: AnnaSalamon 29 November 2016 06:16:33PM 13 points [-]

I'm empowered to hunt down the relevant people and start conversations about it that are themselves empowered to make the shift. (E.g. to talk to Nate/Eliezer/MIRI, and Matt Fallshaw who runs Trike Apps.).

I like the idea of granting domain ownership if we in fact go down the BDFL route.

Comment author: Alexandros 30 November 2016 04:22:57AM 1 point [-]

that's awesome. I'm starting to hope something may come of this effort.

Comment author: AnnaSalamon 27 November 2016 10:29:20PM *  35 points [-]

Re: 1, I vote for Vaniver as LW's BDFL, with authority to decree community norms (re: politics or anything else), decide on changes for the site; conduct fundraisers on behalf of the site; etc. (He already has the technical admin powers, and has been playing some of this role in a low key way; but I suspect he's been deferring a lot to other parties who spend little time on LW, and that an authorized sole dictatorship might be better.)

Anyone want to join me in this, or else make a counterproposal?

Comment author: Alexandros 29 November 2016 10:55:56AM 7 points [-]

Who is empowered to set Vaniver or anyone else as the BDFL of the site? It would be great to get into a discusion of "who" but I wonder how much weight there will be behind this person. Where would the BDFL's authority eminate from? Would he be granted, for instance, ownership of the lesswrong.com domain? That would be a sufficient gesture.

Comment author: Alexandros 27 November 2016 10:40:52AM *  66 points [-]

Hi Anna,

Please consider a few gremlins that are weighing down LW currently:

  1. Eliezer's ghost -- He set the culture of the place, his posts are central material, has punctuated its existence with his explosions (and refusal to apologise), and then, upped and left the community, without actually acknowledging that his experiment (well kept gardens etc) has failed. As far as I know he is still the "owner" of this website, retains ultimate veto on a bunch of stuff, etc. If that has changed, there is no clarity on who the owner is (I see three logos on the top banner, is it them?), who the moderators are, who is working on it in general. I know tricycle are helping with development, but a part-time team is only marginally better than no-team, and at least no-team is an invitation for a team to step up.

  2. the no politics rule (related to #1) -- We claim to have some of the sharpest thinkers in the world, but for some reason shun discussing politics. Too difficult, we're told. A mindkiller! This cost us Yvain/Scott who cited it as one of his reasons for starting slatestarcodex, which now dwarfs LW. Oddly enough I recently saw it linked from the front page of realclearpolitics.com, which means that not only has discussing politics not harmed SSC, it may actually be drawing in people who care about genuine insights in this extremely complex space that is of very high interest.

  3. the "original content"/central hub approach (related to #1) -- This should have been an aggregator since day 1. Instead it was built as a "community blog". In other words, people had to host their stuff here or not have it discussed here at all. This cost us Robin Hanson on day 1, which should have been a pretty big warning sign.

  4. The codebase, this website carries tons of complexity related to the reddit codebase. Weird rules about responding to downvoted comments have been implemented in there, nobody can make heads or tails with it. Use something modern, and make it easy to contribute to. (telescope seems decent these days).

  5. Brand rust. Lesswrong is now kinda like myspace or yahoo. It used to be cool, but once a brand takes a turn for the worse, it's really hard to turn around. People have painful associations with it (basilisk!) It needs burning of ships, clear focus on the future, and as much support as possible from as many interested parties, but only to the extent that they don't dillute the focus.

In the spirit of the above, I consider Alexei's hints that Arbital is "working on something" to be a really bad idea, though I recognise the good intention. Efforts like this need critical mass and clarity, and diffusing yet another wave of people wanting to do something about LW with vague promises of something nice in the future (that still suffers from problem #1 AFAICT) is exactly what I would do if I wanted to maintain the status quo for a few more years.

Any serious attempt at revitalising lesswrong.com should focus on defining ownership and plan clearly. A post by EY himself recognising that his vision for lw 1.0 failed and passing the batton to a generally-accepted BDFL would be nice, but i'm not holding my breath. Further, I am fairly certain that LW as a community blog is bound to fail. Strong writers enjoy their independence. LW as an aggregator-first (with perhaps ability to host content if people wish to, like hn) is fine. HN may have degraded over time, but much less so than LW, and we should be able to improve on their pattern.

I think if you want to unify the community, what needs to be done is the creation of a hn-style aggregator, with a clear, accepted, willing, opinionated, involved BDFL, input from the prominent writers in the community (scott, robin, eliezer, nick bostrom, others), and for the current lesswrong.com to be archived in favour of that new aggregator. But even if it's something else, it will not succeed without the three basic ingredients: clear ownership, dedicated leadership, and as broad support as possible to a simple, well-articulated vision. Lesswrong tried to be too many things with too little in the way of backing.

Comment author: Alexandros 17 January 2016 01:48:28AM 3 points [-]

Reminds me of the motto "Strong Opinions, Weakly Held". There's no point having a blurry opinion, or not expressing what you believe to be the most likely candidate for a good way forward, even if it's more likely by only a small margin. By expressing (and/or acting on) a clearly expressed, falsifiable opinion, you expose it to criticism, refutation, improvement, etc. And if you hold it weakly, then you will be open to reconsidering. Refusing to make up your mind, and kindof oscilating between a few options, perhaps waiting to see where the wind blows, has its advantages, but especially when it comes to getitng things done, is most often a clear loser. Despite this, our brains seem to prefer it instinctively, maybe due to some ancestral environment echoes about being proven wrong in the eyes of the tribe?

Comment author: passive_fist 30 November 2015 08:13:39PM *  0 points [-]

The route to AI that you're suggesting is a plausible one; people like Nick Bostrom have talked about scenarios like this at length. Scenarios where we gradually shift our 'computational substrate' to non-biological hardware over several generations. But that's not necessarily what uploading is! As I mentioned, uploading is the transferring of a consciousness from some specific piece of hardware to another piece of hardware. The title and wording of your post implies that you are talking about uploading, but our discussion indicates you are actually talking about building an AI, which is an entirely different concept, and everyone who is confused about this distinction would do well to clearly understand it before talking about it.

Comment author: Alexandros 30 November 2015 11:46:12PM 0 points [-]

You appear to be arguing about definitions. I'm not interested in going down that rabbit hole.

Comment author: passive_fist 30 November 2015 05:48:47AM 0 points [-]

The whole idea of uploading concerns human consciousness. Specifically, transferring a human consciousness to a non-biological context. If you're not talking about human consciousness, then you're just talking about building an AI.

Comment author: Alexandros 30 November 2015 05:55:54AM 1 point [-]

Which in turn depends on what you mean by "artificial".

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