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Comment author: BrassLion 11 October 2017 09:17:47PM 1 point [-]

I will say that lesserwrong is already useful to me, and I'm poking around reading a few things. I haven't been on LessWrong (this site) in a long time before just now, and only got here because I was wondering where this "LesserWrong" site came from. So, at the very least, your efforts are reaching people like me who often read and sometimes change their behavior based on posts, but rarely post themselves. Thanks for the all work you did - the UX end of the new site is much, much better.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 24 August 2015 04:21:28PM 4 points [-]

I have an impression that conscientiousness feels like an outside force. Instead of "I choose to tidy up/proofread my writing/tip the server", it's more like "the situation requires that I do the right thing".

Does this match other people's experience? Does conscientiousness feel more like an outside force than other behaviors?

Comment author: BrassLion 26 August 2015 01:41:37AM 0 points [-]

This is exactly how conscientiousness feels to me - not wanting to do something but doing so because it's the Correct Action For This Situation. Generally, this applies to things that don't give me a direct, immediate benefit to do, like cleaning up after myself in a common space.

Comment author: Dahlen 12 May 2015 12:33:59AM 4 points [-]

Is utilitarianism foundational to LessWrong? Asking because for a while I've been toying with the idea of writing a few posts with morality as a theme, from the standpoint of, broadly, virtue ethics -- with some pragmatic and descriptive ethics thrown in. (The themes are quite generous and interlocking, and to be honest I don't know where to start or whether I'll finish it.) This perspective treats stable character traits, with their associated emotions, drives, and motives as the most reasonably likely determiner of moral behaviour, and means to encourage people to "build character" so as to become more moral beings or improve their behaviour. It doesn't concern itself with quantitative approaches to welfare. Frankly, I find it hard to take seriously the numerical applications of utilitarianism, and my brain just shuts down upon some ethical problems usually enjoyed around here (torture vs. dust specks, repugnant conclusion, contrived deals with strange gods and so on).

I know that Eliezer's virtues-of-rationality post is widely appreciated by many people around here, but it's a declaration of (commitment to) values more than anything. It never seemed to be the dominant paradigm. I guess I just want to know whether a virtue-ethical approach would be well-received here, and the extent to which a utilitarian and a virtue ethicist can usefully discuss morality without jumping a meta level into theories of normative ethics.

Comment author: BrassLion 13 May 2015 02:03:08AM 3 points [-]

Consequentialism, where morality is viewed through a lens of what happens due to human actions, is a major part of LessWrong. Utilitarianism specifically, where you judge an act by the results, is a subset of consequentialism and not nearly as widely accepted. Virtue Ethics are generally well liked and it's often said around here that "Consequentialism is what's right, Virtue Ethics are what works." I think that practical guide to virtue ethics would be well received.

Comment author: Viliam_Bur 28 January 2015 03:29:19PM *  5 points [-]

I read a book from a guy who writes many funny stories about animals (sorry, I don't remember his name now). He described how ZOOs often try to provide a lot of space for animals... which is actually bad for non-predators, because their instinct is to hide, and if they cannot hide, they have high levels of stress (even when nothing is attacking them at the moment), which harms their health. Instead, he recommended to give the animals a small place to hide, where they will feel safe.

Recently (after reading "Don't Shoot the Dog", which I strongly recommend to everyone) when I read something about animals, I often think: "What could this imply for humans?"

For me, open-space offices are this kind of scary. I can't imagine working in an open-space office and keeping my sanity. On a second thought, it depends. I probably wouldn't mind having fellow employees in the same room, but the idea of my boss watching me all day long feels really uncomfortable.

Are other people okay with that? (Maybe they consider bosses to be their friends instead of predators.) Or is it just something that the bosses force upon us, and some of us pretend to be okay with it to signal being a "professional" (which is something like being a Vulcan rationalist)?

Could you work in a open space, where your boss would be sitting behind your back all day long? How would you rate such working environment? -- Please answer only if you are an employee in a situation where you make money for living (not a student, not the boss).

EDIT to clarify: I meant sitting in open-space office with your boss (defined as someone who is in hierarchy above you, who gives you commands, even if they are not at the very top of the company). And the boss does not have to sit literally behind your back, but spends most of the time in the room where you work, sitting in the place where they see you.


Comment author: BrassLion 29 January 2015 07:56:15PM 3 points [-]

I am such a worker, and my immediate boss sits literally right behind me. It's mildly uncomfortable, but not really much more uncomfortable than a traditional set of cubicles. It helps that my boss doesn't care if I'm e.g. reading this site instead of working at any given time, as long as I get my work done overall.

I estimate I would have about a 50% increase in work done if I had an office with a door, no increase if my boss was not in the same building and I had an open plan office, and no increase if I had traditional cubes (open plan offices really do make it easier to talk to people if you need to).

Comment author: JoshuaZ 27 January 2015 09:53:33PM *  4 points [-]

Can you be more precise? Always cooperating in the prisoner's dilemma is not going to be optimal. Are you thinking of something like where each side is allowed to simulate the other? In that case, see here.

Comment author: BrassLion 28 January 2015 02:02:32AM 0 points [-]

To clarify, the definition of the prisoner's dilemma includes it being a one-time game where defecting generates more utility for the defector than cooperating, no matter what the other player chooses.

Comment author: Slider 26 January 2015 09:18:40PM 2 points [-]

One could note that natural markets are going to this direction. For example steam has pretty reliably games appear on sale year or two after their release. Savvy consumers already know to wait if they can. This can get so bad taht early access games hit sales before they are released!

I tired to bring this topic up at a LessWrong meeting I have been calling my thoughts on this direction as "contributionism".

There is some additional even more radical suggestions. Instead of treating at each new sell as lesser amount, retroactively lower the price for already happened purchases (I am pretty sure they dont' mind). Otherwise there is this contention that if two customers are about to buy the product they try to make the other guy buy first so they get the cheaper price (which leads to a mexican standoff that chills selling).

Also normally when a seller and a customer are negotiating for a price seller wants to make it high and the buyer wants it to go low. However if the seller fixes the total amount of money he wants form all of his products then the price negotiation is only about whether the buyers wants to opt in now that it is higher or later when it is lower. However if the price retroactively changes you are "ultimately" going to be spending the same amount of money. If you attach your money early you get earlier access and run the risk that the product never hits high sales numbers (ie that you do not get any returns on it).

However the more people attach money the more the instant price lowers and more money is prone to flow in. This can also be leveraged to overcome a coordination problem. Even if the current instant price too much for you the seller can ask you how much you would honestly be willing to pay for it. (Answering this question too high will not cost you (too much) money). Then when the next customer that doesn't quite have enough buying willingness he might still promise the same level of sum of it. At some point that enough promisers have visited the sum of the promises actually covers for whaqt the seller wants to get for all of his products combined. At this point we can inform the promisers of each others existence - ie that a working sale configuration has been found. This might be a lot of people for a small sum of money each indivudally totalling up to a considereable sum.

Howeer this runs contary to a lot of curretn economical "ethos". Essentially every seller is expected ot try make as much money with the products as possible, there is no sum that is "good enough" that he would settle for. There is also talk of profit motive and letting the pricing game go on is said to make the wheels of the economy run smoothly. However in practise sellers will settle at some price as they think the proabbility of getting more diminishes faster than the gain.

However instead of maximising profits we could set profits to be constant and minimise cost per user. Ie instead of trying to maximse the wealth transfer we try to make the sale happen with as little fuss as possible.

One of the current economys problems is also that advertising and such creates otherwise frivoulous needs that prodeucts can be marketed for. The customer is taken into the decision procees only in what product they choose from the super market self. The decision to build the factory and logistic chain is a money lord with a profit motive trying to be greedy.

However we start from the needs of the customer for example that "I want our village to be educated and I am willing to do 10 hours of work for that end". When you got 100 of these kind of people someone might come suggest aplan to build a school that would take about 150 hours + 50 hours of someone teaching. It turns out that for contrucetion 1.5 hours of work on average is required per villager. Howevver the teacher is doing 50 hours of work when his "fair share" would have only be 1.5 hours. Probably the teacher has other desires beside wanting the village to be educated, the other promise to work on those projects for 48.5 hours. Divided evenly amongs the rest of the 99 willing villagers this amounts to 0.5 hours on those other projects.

That is in this village scenario the customer/investors put in 2 hours of effort 1.5 which most do themself and part is focused on one teacher.

I am interested if anyone wants to talk start-up or similar thingies, or just plainly would be okay purchasing some kind of services in this manner. The most challenge I have faced that people don't like it when a product doesn't cost a fixed amount of money even if they could argue that it's a fixed cost + free money afterwards however it comes back. Also it reminds of a ponzi scheme. However you can never go into a negative price ie you can't profit by buying a product. At most you get the product for (practically) free.

I would like to point out that kick starter uses clever methods in making sure taht the donation amount doesn't degenerate into nothingness. Ie it has perks where you get something when you enough. I am not sure whether being the "not profit making version" of kickstarter is a big enough difference to go compete with such recognised thing. But it has other alluring properties. However it is hard to pitch as a venture capital idea because it is "anti-profit" the most close is that sellign in this way would slightly outcompete with a profit maker because the profit makes has to guess beforehand the price point right to exact digits in order to have similar performance. In practise sales deviate somewhat from projected sales, contributionistic sale is sure to make econimcal sense at whatever scale but a beforehand fixed pricepoint will always live in a slightly uncompatible scale.

Comment author: BrassLion 28 January 2015 01:59:37AM 0 points [-]

"One of the current economys problems is also that advertising and such creates otherwise frivoulous needs that prodeucts can be marketed for. "

This is an excellent summation of a point that gets bandied about a lot in certain circles. Do you mind if I shamelessly steal this?

Comment author: Lumifer 27 January 2015 06:54:37AM *  2 points [-]

Do you think it's a circle?

I can see the " irrationally obstinate and arrogant" bureaucrats and "aggressive conformers" at one junction, and I can see evangelist Eagle Scouts and perfectionist fixers at the other junction.

Steve Jobs seems to be a classic second-junction type.

Comment author: BrassLion 28 January 2015 01:55:59AM 1 point [-]

It does seem like these are two mostly unrelated skills - leadership, teamwork, and time management on one hand, and vision, creativity, and drive on the other. They don't really oppose each other except in the general sense that both sets take a long time to learn to do well. There are enough examples of people that are both, or neither, that these don't seem to be a very useful way of carving up reality.

Comment author: RowanE 19 January 2015 01:27:06PM 4 points [-]

How long do the effects of caffeine tolerance, where when you're not on caffeine you're below baseline and caffeine just brings you back to normal, last? If I took tolerance breaks inbetween stretches of caffeine use, could I be better off on average than if I simply avoided it entirely?

Comment author: BrassLion 19 January 2015 04:21:16PM *  7 points [-]

I think you are thinking about this the wrong way. People become caffeine tolerant quickly, but tolerance goes away pretty quickly too. You would get more benefit out of the opposite approach - spending most of your time without caffeine, but drinking a cup of coffee rarely, when you really need it. You would effectively be caffeine naive most of the time, with brief breaks for caffeine use, and this never develop much of a tolerance. If it's been a long time since that first cup of coffee that you don't remember it, trust me, the effects of caffeine on a caffeine-naive brain are incredible.

I know I once read a study that says you can get back to caffeine naive in two weeks if you go cold turkey, but I can't find anything on it again for the life of me. I do remember distinctly that going cold turkey is a bad plan, as the withdrawal effects are pretty unpleasant - slowly lowering your dose is better.

On a more practical level, it is certainly possible to have relatively little caffeine, such that you aren't noticeably impaired on zero caffeine, while still having some caffeine. The average coffee drinker is far beyond this point. I would try to lower your daily dose over the course of a month or so until you are consuming less than a cup of coffee a day - ideally, a lot less, like no cups of coffee. Try substituting tea (herbal or otherwise) if you need something hot to drink to help kill the craving - herbal tea has no caffeine, black tea has about 1/4 of the caffeine per cup, and if you add cream and sugar the taste will be familiar.

EDIT: VincentYu's comment above is interesting in light of this. I am not going to perform my own meta analysis on this, but there are a great deal of studies that find that caffeine tolerance and caffeine withdrawal are real things - a quick Google Scholar search for "caffeine tolerance" will find them.

I am now very interested in a large study on this without the possible conflict of interest. Also, I find it odd that they choose to not include studies before 1992.

Comment author: BrassLion 19 January 2015 02:01:17AM 1 point [-]

Just because it would be good for society if people stayed home when they were sick, doesn't mean legislating that would actually have that effect without any drawbacks. Something between the two states seems to be in order.

I've been watching various colds and winter ailments move through my workplace. While I've been doing my part by trying to convince my co-workers that they ought to stay home if they're sick, people still come in when they're sick maybe half the time. At other places I know of, where workers don't get dedicated use-it-or-lose-it sick time, matters are much worse. I wonder if legislating sick time would have a strong effect.

Actually, it looks like this is happening (http://www.natlawreview.com/article/voters-four-jurisdictions-pass-sick-leave-ballot-initiatives). Should be a couple of papers for some enterprising economist or sociologist comparing productivity per worker in states where this happens compared to states where it doesn't.

Comment author: BrassLion 15 January 2015 04:07:43AM 1 point [-]

I've been following Bitcoin for a while with fascination. Are there are reputable exchanges left, or is trading money for cryptocurrency back to being the wild west?

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