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Comment author: ChristianKl 20 May 2017 06:55:38PM *  0 points [-]

People skills have great value for programmers

Yes, but we didn't disagree on the value of people skills but on the other value social interaction outside of work. You are mostly convincing your coworkers while you are at work and not a social hangouts.

Convincing the rest of the world to adopt programming technique X is more likely done via the internet then through social hangouts.

Comment author: DanArmak 20 May 2017 07:22:48PM *  0 points [-]

I think you're mostly right about that, but not entirely. The two realms are not so clearly separated. There are social hangouts on the Internet. There are social hangouts, of both kinds, where people talk shop. There are programming blogs and forums where social communities emerge. And social capital and professional reputation feed into one another.

Comment author: DanArmak 20 May 2017 04:35:16PM *  2 points [-]

So that's the real role of the expert here

I work in the data science industry - as a programmer, not a data scientist or statistician. From my general understanding of the field what you're describing is a broadly accepted assumption. But I might be misled by the fact that the company I work for bases its product on this assumption, so I'm not sure if you're just describing this thing from another angle or if there's a different point that I'm missing here or if, in fact, many people spend too much effort trying to hand-tune models.

The data scientists I work with make predictive models in two stages. The first one is to invent (or choose) "features", which include natural variables from the original dataset, functions acting on one or more variables, or supplementary datasets that they think are relevant. The data scientist applies their understanding of statistics as well as domain knowledge to tell the computer which things to look for and which are clearly false positives to be ignored. And the second stage is to build the actual models using mostly standard algorithms like Random Forest or XGBoost or whatnot, where the data scientist might tweak arguments but the underlying algorithm is generally given and doesn't allow for as much user choice.

A common toy example is the Titanic dataset. This is a list of passengers on the Titanic, with variables like age, name, ticket class, etc.. The task is to build a model that predicts which ones survived when the ship sank. A data scientist would mostly work on feature engineering, e.g. introducing a variable that deduces passenger's sex from their name, and focus less on model tuning, e.g. determining the exact weight that should be given to the feature in the model (women and children had much higher rates of survival).

In a more serious example, a data scientist might work on figuring out which generic datasets are relevant at all. Suppose you're trying to predict where to best open a new Starbucks branch. Should you look at the locations of competing coffee shops? Noise from nearby construction? Public transit stops or parking lots? Nearby tourist attractions or campuses or who knows what else? You can't really afford to look at everything, it would both take too long (and maybe cost too much) and risk false positives. A good domain expert is the one who generates the best hypotheses. But to actually test those hypotheses, you use standard algorithms to build predictive models, and if a simple linear model works, that's a good thing - it shows your chosen features were really powerful predictors.

Comment author: ChristianKl 19 May 2017 07:35:38PM 0 points [-]

Even computer programmers who spent the majority of their working output working alone can benefit a lot from having good connections when it comes to finding good jobs.

Finding jobs isn't the only thing were social connection helps. If you have an health issue than it can help a lot if you have a friend who knows a good doctor. If the friend has a personal relationship to the doctor it might mean that you get an immediate appointment instead of having to wait weeks.

I personally don't do social events like board game nights that are basically superficial fun but prefer events with provide additional value, but I think it's a mistake to see social events generally as low value.

Comment author: DanArmak 20 May 2017 04:04:01PM *  1 point [-]

Even computer programmers who spent the majority of their working output working alone can benefit a lot from having good connections when it comes to finding good jobs.

People skills have great value for programmers, and finding jobs is a very small part of it. I write this from personal experience.

Programmers are still people. The amount of great software any one person can write in their lifetime is very limited. Teaching or convincing others (from coworkers to the rest of the world) to agree with you on what makes software great, to write great software themselves, and to use it, are the greatest force multipliers any programmer can have, just like in most other fields.

Sometimes there are exceptions; one may invent a new algorithm or write some new software that everyone agrees is great. But most of the time you have to convince people - not just less-technical managers making purchasing decisions, but other programmers who don't think that global mutable state is a problem, really, it worked fine in my grandfather's time and it's good enough for me.

Comment author: juliawise 22 April 2017 01:27:27AM 3 points [-]

Yeah, I remember around 2007 a friend saying her parents weren't sure whether it was right for them to have children circa 1983, because they thought nuclear war was very likely to destroy the world soon. I thought that was so weird and had never heard of anyone having that viewpoint before, and definitely considered myself living in a time when we no longer had to worry about apocalypse.

Comment author: DanArmak 20 May 2017 03:10:56PM 0 points [-]

I don't understand that viewpoint for a different reason. Suppose you believe the world will be destroyed soon. Why is that a reason not to have children? Is it worse for the children to live short but presumably good lives than not to live at all?

Comment author: username2 12 February 2017 05:09:08AM 1 point [-]

What's materially different about a God-based religion and the science-centered rationality cult? Other than our miracles actually being real, that is.

I almost said "verifiably real", but therein lies the crux of the issue. A religion is basically a foundational system of beliefs, and a framework for constructing new beliefs. That includes even how you verify the truthfulness of statements. Blanket calling religion of all sorts 'stupidly' is oversimplifying the situation, to say the least.

Comment author: DanArmak 12 February 2017 05:52:20PM 1 point [-]

The post doesn't say that all religion is stupidity. It says that one of the things we cal stupidity is subconscious conditioning, and one of the common case of such conditioning is religion. A subset of religion and a subset of stupidity, intersecting. Do you think that's wrong?

Comment author: turchin 11 February 2017 06:19:57PM 0 points [-]

If our universe is test simulation, it is a digital experiment to test something, and if it include AI, it is probably designed to test AI behaviour by putting it in complex moral dilemmas.

So Omega is not interested in humans in this simulation. It is interested in behaviour of Beta to humans.

If there will be no human suffering, it will be clear that it is a simulation, and it will be not pure test. Alpha must hide its existence and only hint on it.

Comment author: DanArmak 11 February 2017 08:37:04PM 1 point [-]

Why do you assume any of this?

If our universe is test simulation, it is a digital experiment to test something,

That's a tautology. But if you meant "if our universe is a simulation" then why do you think it must be a a test simulation in particular? As opposed to a research simulation to see what happens, or a simulation to make qualia because the simulated beings's lives have value to the simulators, or a simulation for entertainment value, or anything else.

if it include AI, it is probably designed to test AI behaviour by putting it in complex moral dilemmas.

Maybe the desired outcome from the simulators' point of view is to develop a paperclipping AI that isn't swayed by human moral arguments. Maybe the simulation is really about the humans, and AIs are just inevitable byproducts of high-tech humans. There are lots of maybes. Do you have any evidence for this, conditional on being a simulation?

Comment author: PhilGoetz 10 February 2017 10:57:16PM *  4 points [-]

This is not a thing that we need to check statistics for. Americans now talk openly about seeing a psychologist or having depression. Americans two generations prior did not. Depression was not recognized as a legitimate disease; it was considered a weakness, and psychotherapy was an act of desperation.

Comment author: DanArmak 11 February 2017 04:22:17PM *  4 points [-]

I was under the impression that two generations ago, Freudian psychotherapy was all the rage and pretty much universal in certain high-status social circles? Of course, it probably didn't help anyone much. I think that "there's something mentally wrong with many/most people, maybe even everyone by default" has existed for decades as a common belief in some places.

Comment author: Oscar_Cunningham 10 February 2017 05:37:52PM 1 point [-]

Sometimes I worry that we'll find a way of curing autism in the womb and then all progress in mathematics will grind to a halt.

Comment author: DanArmak 11 February 2017 04:14:56PM 2 points [-]

Another reason to find a cure for stupidity first, then.

Comment author: Pimgd 10 February 2017 10:16:09AM *  8 points [-]

So, on one hand, I agree that it would be better if people were smarter on average.

On the other hand, you're using a lot of scary labels. ... Actually, after reflecting a bit, "Stupidity is a mental illness" is the only scary label. But it is a REALLY SCARY label. As in, my overton window is probably shifted, I dunno, 2 or 3 or 4 standard deviations in your direction, compared to the average person. I know about nootropics (at the very least, that they exist). And I'm sort of familiar with this community. And I still got scared reading this.

One of the issues is is that it takes something which has previously enjoyed somewhat protected status (intelligence), and puts it on a same level of importance as ... ... I don't have an example. Weird.

I know a lot of people who are stupid in one way or another. I would hate to see "treatment" forced onto them because they're not as smart as we'd like. I get the feeling that not speaking up now means being next on the list - "when they came for X I didn't speak up because I wasn't X, when they came for Y I didn't speak up because I wasn't Y, and when they came for me there was no-one else to speak up for me".

I don't know what constitutes "stupid" for you. Is it people with, say, an IQ of 70, where their intelligence impairs them on a daily basis? Or is it people who are capable of holding down a job, but live paycheck to paycheck and vote in elections based on very questionable grounds (I don't have proper examples for you)?

I think that because there is no definition of "stupid people" provided, this becomes scary. You're targeting a population group, which was previously okay, but now they're no longer okay, and this feels like you're trying to invoke "look at these people, they need to be fixed", and maybe I'm shaping some of that feeling myself, but I don't see the underlying tone of doing good. This isn't helping others, this is helping yourself. Maybe everyone benefits. But this essay reads as something that helps just you.

In short.

Promoting research into intelligence boosting drugs: Yay

Destigmatizing stupidity into favoring intelligence: Yay

Classifying stupidity as a mental illness, forcing things like the American health system onto people who are already missing one of the success factors in life: Nay.


And I don't think mental illness is seen as something positive either. People with mental illnesses are dangerous, not fit for society, scary, should be kept someplace safe... I think that's the sentiment you'll get if you ask the average person (maybe they're stupid too? I don't know). Now, I don't mean to say these traits apply to people who are stupid, I mean to say that people on average think these traits apply to people with a mental illness, and that as a result, you don't want to be mentally ill, and reclassifying people who are stupid as mentally ill won't go over well. Even only because people won't actually say they can't see the emperor's clothes, lest they lose their job.

Honestly, I think if you want to go this way, you'd be better off trying to develop things that people can use for their kids. They'll buy organic foods "because it's more healthy", so they might also buy intelligence boosters for their kids so they can go to a prestige university and do great in life.

And you don't want to classify stupidity as a mental illness. You want it to be seen as a physical injury. You go to the hospital, they fix you, you're better. No shrink visits, no endless talks, no getting locked up in an internment facility.

Comment author: DanArmak 11 February 2017 04:14:02PM 1 point [-]

"Stupidity is a mental illness" is the only scary label. But it is a REALLY SCARY label.

That's the point of this post, I think.

Mental illness is a very scary label - because it's a terrible thing to be. And we should work hard on being able to cure mental illness.

Stupid is an equally terrible thing to be - terrible to yourself and to your friends and to society at large. We should work just as hard on making people not-stupid as we do on making them not-depressed. But we don't actually work hard on that, and that's a real problem.

Comment author: Brillyant 10 February 2017 03:09:50PM 7 points [-]

"Stupidity" is a...word that we apply to different conditions which may be caused by deep subconscious conditioning (e.g., religion).


Comment author: DanArmak 11 February 2017 04:11:34PM 3 points [-]

Do you think it's factually untrue, or normatively wrong, or something?

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