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Comment author: CAE_Jones 21 June 2017 08:45:51AM 0 points [-]

Obvious advice is obvious because it works, yes. The background assumption is that it is all implementable without further advice-wanting requirements. Advice for building a kickass gaming PC in 2017 with secure income and access to the internet will be simpler than the same advice adapted for 1950, because PCs were not available in 1950, the internet did not exist, and computers were huge, slow, and low on storage capacity as compared to 2000, never mind 2017.

Of course, if this could be fully generalized to all contexts, it would likely have been done by now. It's not practical to account for every outlier when responding to a general audience, and even to an individual without extraordinary circumstances (such as being paid as a therapist/life-coach/etc). This is where generalized instrumental rationality should take over, and yet, signs seem to point toward GIR being much harder than ... eh, just about everything short of implementing Utopiae, I guess.

Comment author: Pimgd 19 June 2017 10:27:21AM *  1 point [-]

One piece of obvious advice I've heard a lot is that you should exercise more.

I have a lot of ... probably weak ... counterarguments to this. They seem to be rationalizations; e.g. "I don't want to do this because ...".

For example, I'll list a few.

  • Why should I exercise if I'm already at a good weight?
  • Why should I exercise if my daily life (programming) does not require significant physical skill?
  • Why should I exercise if I already go on a short (15 min) daily walk - is more really needed?
  • I don't want to feel tired, so exercising doesn't feel rewarding to me at all
  • Exercising takes up time, I'd rather not spend this time exercising
  • If you live a longer life because of exercising, how do you know you're not running a red queen's race (you have to stay fit lest you get a heart attack 6 months later because it's old and you die anyway)

Rather than looking for cutting edge ideas to be more productive, I'm rather looking for a cutting edge idea as to why obvious advice would work / be given.

Possibly I should make a reddit account and post on changemyview or something. I just don't see why I should exercise at the moment given that I have the weight I want and the fitness to do what I need to do and don't have any health issues related to fitness (dental issues, but that's a separate point and due to a filling that seems have been placed improperly).

Then again, I sometimes feel as if I'm one-eyed, saying "I understand how having two eyes would be better, but is it really necessary? Operating is hard, it costs money, it takes time, I'd have to go to the hospital, it'd be a huge thing, and I can already see right now, so I don't see why you'd want two eyes. Yeah, okay, the redundancy would be nice, that you're not blinded if your one eye gets dirty or develops issues, but is all the hassle really worth a second eye?" And I'd feel that the answer that would convince me is actually seeing out of two eyes and realizing that hey, you can sort of see in 3D now and estimate distance and you get depth perception and a wider field of vision and it's easier to read or skim text and blah blah blah blah - but you wouldn't know that, because you only have one eye.

What's the two-eyed benefit of exercising?

Comment author: CAE_Jones 21 June 2017 08:28:15AM *  1 point [-]

Then again, I sometimes feel as if I'm one-eyed, saying "I understand how having two eyes would be better, but is it really necessary?"

You know, discovering LessWrong forced me to reconsider exactly this. I mean, the "you don't know what you're missing if you never had it" argument never seemed wrong before LW, just annoying.

Realistically, if a cheap and quick-to-heal eye repair/replacement method became available tomorrow, I can only try to imagine how my brain would respond to a random extra input. And depth perception sounds like some terrifying mindscrew, and what is this business about eye-crossing and seeing double? And I am a wee bit worried about what having the ability to see people in full detail would do to me (my one good eye went bad before I ever considered looking at porn... the possibility is unsettling for some hard to identify reason). And driving, and getting a decent reading speed, and hand-writing, would all take a very long time—years, most likely.

But nevertheless, leaving money on the ground is leaving money on the ground. I like braille, but it's less useful than print precisely because print is everywhere and everything is available in it. Learning math and science when most of the best books aren't readable is a pest. And I would be surprised if a whole sense shutting off isn't inherently depressing just due to decreased stimulation.

Does exercise work similarly? Eh, it depends? The whole forcing yourself to do something you simply can't get excited about for nebulous health benefits suffers from a heavy cost in effort. OTOH, if an activity can be engaging and healthy, the effort-reward ratio is high from the beginning. So this is where we look for something fun to do, rather than hitting the gym. Of course, if there is not a fun or otherwise rewarding solution available, then we're right back where we started.

Comment author: Error 13 March 2016 02:04:09AM 1 point [-]

I'm astonished that hearing aids cost so much, given how thoroughly the personal-audio-hardware space has been colonized by cheap electronics. What's up with that?

Comment author: CAE_Jones 13 March 2016 05:40:06AM 0 points [-]

I've heard the phrase "disability markup" used to describe how almost everything ever targeted toward physical or sensory disabilities are absurdly expensive. That name implies more intentional malice than I expect is at work; I'd generally round off to "market forces"--it's difficult to take advantage of mass market capitalism when selling to a minority, but it is possible to take advantage of government assistance programs.

It seems like, though, based on my (very limited) understanding of hearing aids, a charitable version of "disability markup" might be closer to reality. After all, if it's treating a disability, especially one found in old people, either those who need it are going to be rich from a lifetime of savings, or poor and getting the government to pay for it anyway, right?

It isn't hearing aids so much as screen readers, but Chris Hofstader implies as much might be a component of business models for such companies in this article:

Will FS respond to this new found competition, possibly based in the fact that NVDA costs nothing and FS gets more than a thousand bucks for JAWS with a price cut? Probably not. I haven’t worked at FS for more than a decade but, back then, we discussed the possibility of a free or no cost screen reader coming onto the market and how we might respond. Our strategy then and likely now was that, if we felt competitive pressure from a low or no cost solution, we would raise the price of JAWS. As I mentioned a couple of paragraphs ago, there are technologies that one can only access using JAWS and the FS strategy was to make sure we kept our profits high by “eating the rich.” I don’t know if FS will respond this way ten and a half years later but, as NVDA RA adds a feature to NVDA that one needed to buy JAWS to get, , they may need to find a way to replace the dollars on their bottom line and may, in fact, respond by increasing the price of JAWS.

James_Miller's guess wouldn't apply so much to screen readers (but would apply to things like the Brain Port, which opened at a price of $10,000US), but I wouldn't be surprised if going through the FDA is a big part of the markup on hearing aids.

Comment author: Old_Gold 13 February 2016 01:55:00AM 1 point [-]

Five years ago, we weren't just coming down from a spree of witch-hunts in which online mobs destroy people's lives for being insufficiently politically correct.

And you're trying to be one of the witch-hunters?

Comment author: CAE_Jones 13 February 2016 05:54:15AM 2 points [-]

No, I'm afraid of the witch-hunters. (So far, polling indicates that this was not the right hypothesis for the commentary in general.) I avoided commenting until my previous comment because I was pretty sure I'd regret it--probably missing the point or getting drawn into the political deluge--and it seems this was the correct expectation.

Comment author: Dentin 12 February 2016 02:30:13AM 12 points [-]

OP Upvoted.

It's been stated elsewhere that a long standing member of the LW community was leaving because of this post. Well, to counterbalance that, I'm also strongly considering leaving LW, but it's not because of the OP. It's because of these comment threads.

In particular, the comments have shown me just how far the LW community has fallen. I'd really rather not be around people who both get offended so easily and are so willing to mindkill themselves should the slightest opportunity present itself. FYI, the OP isn't about you. It's not about your pet projects. It's not insulting everything you stand for. You're just not that important.

Five years ago, this post would likely have died a simple, unglorious death by being too vague or poorly written to be upvoted. Today it causes a political shitstorm as the community decides to interpret it in a way directly contrary to the stated goal of author. Five years ago, it would have been discussed rationally, the writer would have received tips and suggestions, and quite likely some good would have been drawn out of it. Today, it causes mass mindkilling because people feel that their identity is being attacked.

Those are the kinds of people I don't wish to be around.

Comment author: CAE_Jones 12 February 2016 04:29:32PM 1 point [-]

Five years ago

Five years ago, we weren't just coming down from a spree of witch-hunts in which online mobs destroy people's lives for being insufficiently politically correct. I suspect lots of "be on the look out for anything that looks sexist" conditioning still hasn't worn off. But I might be mind-projecting.

Actually, it seems worth a poll. did/did not take it as something close to rape apologia, are/are not worried about doxing or other such harassment campaigns?


Comment author: Lumifer 28 January 2016 03:54:46PM 1 point [-]

I am a bit confused. If we are living in a Quantum Immortality world, why don't we see any 1000-year-old people around?

Comment author: CAE_Jones 28 January 2016 04:33:37PM 0 points [-]

I understand QI as related to the Anthropic Principal. The point is that you will tend to find yourself observing things, which implies that there is an effectively immortal version of you somewhere in probability space. It doesn't require that any Quantum Immortals coexist in the same world.

Of course, we'd be far more likely to continue observing things in a world where immortality is already available than in one where it is not, but since we're not in that world, it doesn't seem too outlandish to give a little weight to the idea that the absence of Quantum Immortals is a precondition to being a Quantum Immortal. I have no idea how that makes sense, though. One could construct fantastic hypotheticals about eventually encountering an alien race intent on wiping out immortals, or some Highlander-esque shenanigans, but more likely is that immortality is just hard and not that many people can win the QI lottery in a single world. (Or even that we happen to be living at the time when immortality is attainable.)

Incidentally (or frustratingly), this gets us back into "it's all part of the divine plan" territory. Why do you go through problem X? Because if you didn't, you would eventually die forever.

I am now curious as to whether or not there are books that combine Quantum Immortality with religious eschitology[sic]. Just wait for the Quantum Messiah to invent a world-hopping ability to rescue everyone who has ever lived from their own personal eternity (which is probably a Quantum Hell by that point), and bring them to Quantum Heaven.

(I was not thinking Quantum Jesus would be an AI, but sure; why not? Now we have the Universal Reconciliation version of straw Singularitarianism.)

Comment author: CCC 26 January 2016 05:32:55AM 0 points [-]

His Wikipedia article is rather vague on how he made his wealth,

He is or has been a director of a lot of companies; you can find a substantial background on his directorships over here. Given the salaries that high-end directors tend to receive, it;s no wonder he's built up that sort of wealth.

So is being one of the worst presidents in US history something to be proud of?

I'll admit, my knowledge of US history is very poor, as I do not live there. All I really know about Obama is that he seems to be a substantial improvement on Bush; I have absolutely no basis for comparison with anyone further back than that.

But becoming US President is, I think, something to be proud of in and of itself. It can't be something that's easy to do.

Comment author: CAE_Jones 26 January 2016 07:50:21AM 0 points [-]

There was a recent thread in discussion trying to objectively evaluate Obama's presidency. The general conclusion seems to be, based on comparing policy outcomes and polling data with that of other presidents, that Obama is a fairly mediocre president, and unless some evidence surfaces that he was secretly the mastermind behind ISIS, in no way among the worst.

Comment author: polymathwannabe 10 January 2016 03:12:52PM 2 points [-]

I know much less Chinese than you do. Having said that:

The Chinese version of "be" lets you apply a noun predicate to your subject, but not an adjectival predicate: you can use it to say "I am a student" or "I am an American" but not "I am tired" or "I am tall;" that is, it doesn't state the attributes of a noun but an equivalence between two nouns. To say "I am tall," you just say "I tall." All of the other meanings of "be" (the ones relevant to this problem are those related to the essence/existence question) are expressed with various other words in Chinese.

Comment author: CAE_Jones 10 January 2016 04:48:24PM 1 point [-]

Ah, yeah, that's true. Adjectives exhibit verb-like behavior in several East Asian languages; that they also do this in Chinese kinda slipped my mind.

Comment author: polymathwannabe 10 January 2016 07:33:05AM *  2 points [-]

Sapir-Whorf-related question:

Although I've been an informal reader of philosophy for most of my life, only today did I connect some dots and notice that Chinese philosophers never occupied themselves with the question of Being, which has so obsessed Western philosophers. When I noticed this, my next thought was, "But of course; the Chinese language has no word for 'be.'" Wikipedia didn't provide any confirmation or disconfirmation of this hypothesis, but it does narrate how Muslim philosophers struggled when adapting Greek questions of Being into their own words.

Then I asked myself: Wait, did the Chinese never really address this subject? Let's see: Confucianism focused on practical philosophy, Taoism is rather poetry instead of proper ontology, and Buddhism did acknowledge questions about Being, but saw them as the wrong questions. I'm not sure about the pre-Confucian schools.

If it turns out to be the case that the main reason why Chinese philosophers never discussed Being is that Chinese has no word for "be," that would seem to me to be a very strong indication that Western philosophers have spent centuries asking the wrong questions, specifically by falling into the confusion mode of mistaking words for things, a confusion mode that I'm tempted to blame Aristotle for, but I need to reread some Aristotle before I can be sure of such an accusation.

Am I missing something here?

Comment author: CAE_Jones 10 January 2016 11:45:14AM 1 point [-]

I was under the impression that 是 was Chinese for "to be". The nuance isn't quite the same--you can say 是 in response to "are or aren't you American?", but that's more or less subject-omission--but it seems close enough?

But my experience with Chinese includes only two years of Mandarin classes and a few podcasts; I haven't studied the linguistics in so much detail, and that studying ended 5 years ago, so if you're basing this on something I don't know, I'd be glad for the correction.

Comment author: TezlaKoil 07 January 2016 02:36:42PM *  0 points [-]

I bet if you phrase the question as "your brain is destroyed and recreated 5 minutes later", most people outside LW answer no. I guess this might be another instance of brain functions inactive vs lack of ability to have experiences.

Comment author: CAE_Jones 07 January 2016 07:27:45PM 1 point [-]

What do "destroy" and "recreate" mean?

I interpret them as meaning something like "disassemble" and "reassemble in the same configuration as before, with the same component parts"

That's not how I interpret the descriptions of the destructive teleportation, uploading, and forking scenarios.

The only arguments I can presently think of that really make me doubt my response to the "do you survive destructive uploading/teleportation/copying?" questions are more on the lines of the Ship of Theseus. My computer remains my computer if I turn it off and on again. "My files" can refer to specific instances, versions, copies, whatever, whether they're on "my computer" or copied to an external device. If my computer falls apart and is put back together again, it's still my computer. If my computer is taken apart, and an identical computer with my files on its hard drive is built (with different parts), it's a different computer. If my computer slowly has all its parts replaced, one at a time, I don't really know what I'd think; I want to say it's no longer the same computer at some point, but I don't know which point. Maybe when the hard drive is replaced, but that's a bad example because replacing individual chunks of atoms in the hard drive is a weird concept. Actually, I'd probably think of the new chunks as "the new chunks", and more or less treat it as portions of two separate disks acting as one. (And if files are modified, deleted, copied, etc, then they are modified, deleted, copied, etc, and this does not make it stop being "my computer".)

So what does that mean for the brain? The brain changes a lot; does its component parts get replaced all that often? A huge portion of the cells in the body get replaced at varying rates; do they play into this at all? How would my conclusions change if the brain replaces its cells frequently and I was just that bad at understanding neurology? I'm not really sure about the answers to these. It's possible that the answers could change my mind. It's possible that I would just stay in the same boat and remain existentially horrified forever or something.

But flipping the switch from on to off to on is more or less irrelevant. I feel like we are using the same words to describe completely different phenomena, then debating as though everyone is using the words in the same way. (Compare "Congress" to "the 75th congress" to "the 76th congress". The first is defined by an enduring pattern with interchangeable components, such that it describes the both of the other two; the second refers to a specific configuration of components and behaviors; the third is as specific as the second, but it's entirely possible that only a few members from the 75th congress were replaced for the 76th. If someone was particularly attached to the 75th congress, and by the 80th congress, the last member from the 75th was replaced, what would we take from such a person's reaction? Keeping in mind that people tend to write dramatic articles whenever an enduring group loses or replaces all of its original members, or all of the members present for particularly charished events, etc. What if a band breaks up, then most of its members form a new band?)

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