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Meetup : Socializing and board games

1 Anatoly_Vorobey 13 October 2015 01:28PM

Discussion article for the meetup : Socializing and board games

WHEN: 13 October 2015 07:00:00PM (+0300)

WHERE: Google, Electra Tower, 98 Yigal Alon Street, Tel Aviv, Israel

We're going to have a board game/socializing event. We haven't had them in a while because too many Tuesdays were killed by the holiday season. Now they're back!

Meet at Google, Electra Tower, 98 Yigal Alon Street, Tel Aviv: The 29th floor (not the Google Campus floor). We'll then move to a room.

Contact: If you can't find us, call Anatoly, who is hosting the meetup, at 054-245-1060.

Discussion article for the meetup : Socializing and board games

Meetup : Tel Aviv Meetup: Short Talks on Assorted LW Topics

2 Anatoly_Vorobey 22 June 2015 11:46AM

Discussion article for the meetup : Tel Aviv Meetup: Short Talks on Assorted LW Topics

WHEN: 23 June 2015 07:00:00PM (+0300)

WHERE: Google Tel Aviv

We're going to have a meetup on Tuesday, June 22 Google Tel Aviv offices, Electra Tower, 98 Yigal Alon st., Tel Aviv.

We will hear and discuss several mini-talks on assorted LessWrong-related topics. Each talk will last 10 to 20 minutes, plus some time for questions and discussion. An approximate list (some details may change):

  1. Joshua will talk on the difference between Kurzwellians vs MIRI-ites in their attitudes to technology and likely futures.
  2. Liran and Vadim will tell us about their visit to the LessWrong mega-meetup in Europe recently.
  3. Vadim will talk about Maximizing Ultra-Long Impact: are there things we can do today that can matter on absurdly long time scales.
  4. Anatoly will report on reading some papers related to John Taurek's 1977 challenge to consequentialists: "Should numbers count?".

We'll meet at the 29th floor of the building at 19:00. If you arrive and can't find your way around, call Anatoly who's hosting us at 054-245-1060. Email at avorobey@gmail.com also works.

See you there!

Discussion article for the meetup : Tel Aviv Meetup: Short Talks on Assorted LW Topics

Comment author: Anatoly_Vorobey 16 June 2015 09:58:44PM 9 points [-]

Note how all the exodus is to places where people own their particular space and have substantial control over what's happening there. Personal blogs, tumblrs, etc. Not, say, subreddits or a new shinier group blog.

Posting on LW involves a sink-or-swim feeling: will it be liked/disliked? upvoted/downvoted? many comments/tepid comments/no comments? In addition, you feel that your post stakes a claim on everybody's attention, so you inevitably imagine it'll be compared to other people's posts. After all, when you read the Discussion page, you frequently go "meh, could've done without that one", so you imagine other people thinking the same about your post, and that pre-discourages you. In addition, a few years' worth of status games and signalling in the comments have bred to some degree a culture of ruthlessness and sea-lawyering.

So, these three: fretting about reactions; fretting about being compared with other posts; fretting about mean or exhausting comments. One way to deal with it is to move to an ostensibly less demanding environment. So you post to Discussion, but then everyone starts doing that, Main languishes and the problem reoccurs on Discussion. So you post to open threads, but then Discussion languishes, open threads balloon and become unpleasant to scan, and the problem reoccurs, to a lesser degree, on them too. But if you go off to a tumblr or a personal blog or your Facebook: 2nd problem disappears; 3rd problem manageable through blocking or social pressure from owner (you); 1st problem remains but is much less acute because no downvotes.

It's useless to say "just don't fret, post on LW anyway". The useful questions are "why didn't this happen in the first 4-5 years of the site?" and "assuming we want this reverted, how?" For the first question, because as the site was growing, the enthusiasm for this exciting community and the desire to count your voice among its voices overrode those feelings of discomfort. But after a few years things changed. Many regulars established lateral links. The site feels settled in, with an established pecking order of sorts (like the top karma lists; these were always a bad idea, but they just didn't matter much at first). There's no longer a feeling of "what I'll post will help make LW into what it'll be". And there's a huge established backlog that feels formidable to build on, especially since nobody's read it all. So the motivation lessened while the dis-motivation stayed as it was.

How to fix this? I think platformizing LW might work well. Everybody prefers their own space, so give everybody their own space on the common platform. Every user gets a personal blog (e.g. vaniver.lesswrong.com) on the same platform (reddit code under the hood). The global list of users is the same. Everybody gets to pick their reading list (tumblr-style) and have their custom view of new posts. There's also RSS for reading from outside of course. Blog owners are able to ban users from their particular blog, or disallow downvotes.

Then bring back Main as a special blog to which anyone can nominate a post from a personal blog, and up/downvotes determine pecking order, with temporal damping (HN style). Would also be cool to have a Links view to which everyone can nominate links from other rationality blogs and LWers can discuss.

(I realize that this would require nontrivial programming work, and have a good understanding of how much of it would be required. That isn't an insurmountable challenge).

Comment author: Risto_Saarelma 03 May 2015 06:08:06AM 5 points [-]

Just how bad of an idea is it for someone who knows programming and wants to learn math to try to work through a mathematics textbook with proof exercises, say Rudin's Principles of Mathematical Analysis, by learning a formal proof system like Coq and using that to try to do the proof exercises?

I'm figuring, hey, no need to guess whether whatever I come up with is valid or not. Once I get it right, the proof assistant will confirm it's good. However, I have no idea how much work it'll be to get even much simpler proofs that what are expected of the textbook reader right, how much work it'll be to formalize the textbook proofs even if you do know what you're doing and whether there are areas of mathematics where you need an inordinate amount of extra work to get machine-checkable formal proofs going to begin with.

Comment author: Anatoly_Vorobey 03 May 2015 10:30:17AM 8 points [-]

It's a bad idea. Don't do it. You'll be turned off by all the low-level grudgery and it'll distract you from the real content.

Most of the time, you'll know if you found a solid proof or not. Those times you're not sure, just post a question on math.stackexchange, they're super-helpful.

Meetup : Less Wrong Israel Meetup: How Modern Math Is Different

2 Anatoly_Vorobey 26 April 2015 12:37PM

Discussion article for the meetup : Less Wrong Israel Meetup: How Modern Math Is Different

WHEN: 28 April 2015 07:00:00PM (+0300)

WHERE: Google, Electra Tower, 98 Yigal Alon Street, Tel Aviv, Israel

On Tuesday, April 28, Anatoly Vorobey will be speaking on How Modern Math Is Different, and we'll have the usual chance to chat with other interesting people.

Mathematics has been rapidly growing and changing over the last 250 years. This continued progress, however, has not been level or uniform. In this talk I will describe a quiet revolution that happened in math on and around the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. Just a few decades saw a decisive change in how mathematics "works", in several different aspects:

  • How mathematicians see math and its goals;
  • How mathematics sees its relationship with other sciences;
  • How mathematicians approach the goals of rigor and precision;
  • And most of all, what kind of entities math is "build out of", what are its basic building blocks.

None of these changes ever made it into the typical curriculum for high school or below. Some of these changes are felt by science and engineering students as they begin their undergraduate studies, but most of them are only apparent to professional mathematicians. I will attempt to describe as simply as I can what is it that makes modern math different from the 19th century math or from other sciences. No particular math material beyond the high school curriculum will be assumed.

Where: Google, Electra Tower, 98 Yigal Alon Street, Tel Aviv. Meet at the 29th floor. We'll then move to a room.

When: Tuesday, April 28 at 19:00

Contact: If you can't find us, call Anatoly at 054-245-1060; or Joshua at 054-569-1165.

Facebook: Join the LessWrong Israel group. If you have FB, please RSVP at the FB event which will appear there, to help us get a sense of what to expect.

Discussion article for the meetup : Less Wrong Israel Meetup: How Modern Math Is Different

Comment author: Anatoly_Vorobey 25 April 2015 03:57:18PM 1 point [-]

The fifth axiom is the only one which requires some effort to understand. Intuitively, it states that parallel lines do not intersect.

No. This is bad and you should feel bad. Parallel lines do not intersect, and the fifth postulate has nothing to do with it. What do you imagine the definition of "parallel lines" is?

Parallel lines do not intersect by definition, in any geometry, Euclidean or non-Euclidean. The parallels postulate talks about something completely different.

Comment author: Anatoly_Vorobey 09 April 2015 09:34:50PM 2 points [-]

I just want to note here that Johnstone's book is amazing and I'm grateful to you for introducing me to it.

Comment author: Anatoly_Vorobey 13 March 2015 06:55:06AM 2 points [-]

"Herzelia, Israel" should now be "Tel Aviv, Israel" as the location changed, The link to the FB event stays the same. Thanks!

Comment author: jaime2000 17 February 2015 08:17:00PM *  22 points [-]

I just realized why some spells were causing Harry dread, apprehension, and anxiety in chapter 104. It's not because Professor Sprout is controlled by Professor Quirrell (which she is), since other spells of hers fail to trigger the effect and yet one of Tonk's spells does. It's because Quirell is using metamagic to influence the outcome of the battle! He empower's Sprout's brown bolt so that it tears through Professor Snape's shield, and he quickens her stunner so that Snape can't dodge. Then he empowers Tonk's spell to ensure that she will take out Sprout.

In retrospect, this makes perfect sense. There are too many people involved, and combat is inherently chaotic; there is simply no way Quirrell can predict exactly how the fight will go. But he can be there, using gentle nudges to actively steer it towards the small region in outcome-space that ranks high in his utility function, and hope that Harry Potter is too distracted by the battle to notice (which he was; his deduction that Quirrell is behind the plot never once mentions this fact). As a bonus, this explains how Sprout can defeat Snape, when normally we wouldn't expect her to stand a chance.

Comment author: Anatoly_Vorobey 19 February 2015 01:21:48PM 11 points [-]

The entire point of that whole battle is to encourage Harry to commit his hidden resources (Lesath under the Cloak). The whole brawl is basically a show put on for Harry's benefit. Since Quirrell controls the time of Harry's coming to the scene, he could easily take out Snape himself and move him out of the way earlier. He didn't need to bring Sprout or manipulate others to come.

Since Quirrell neglected to ask Harry in Parseltongue whether he still has hidden resources Quirrell doesn't know about, it's still just about possible that Cedric Diggory, Time-Turned, is following them under the second Cloak. I hope he does.

Comment author: Anatoly_Vorobey 17 February 2015 07:53:02AM 7 points [-]

Seems a bit strange that Quirrell didn't ask Harry to confirm in Parseltongue that Harry didn't have any contingency measures beyond those Quirrell already knows about (Lesath under the cloak). In the last chapter's discussion there were theories that Cedric Diggory might be around, time-turned with Harry. Even if not, why wouldn't Q make sure H doesn't have anyone else around to help or set up any other measures? Harry's promise "shall call for no help" isn't enough, if things are already set in motion for someone to help him.

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