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Scott Aaronson has a new 85 page essay up, titled "The Ghost in the Quantum Turing Machine". (Abstract here.) In Section 2.11 (Singulatarianism) he explicitly mentions Eliezer as an influence. But that's just a starting point, and he then moves in a direction that's very far from any kind of LW consensus. Among other things, he suggests that a crucial qualitative difference between a person and a digital upload is that the laws of physics prohibit making perfect copies of a person. Personally, I find the arguments completely unconvincing, but Aaronson is always thought-provoking and fun to read, and this is a good excuse to read about things like (I quote the abstract) "the No-Cloning Theorem, the measurement problem, decoherence, chaos, the arrow of time, the holographic principle, Newcomb's paradox, Boltzmann brains, algorithmic information theory, and the Common Prior Assumption". This is not just a shopping list of buzzwords, these are all important components of the author's main argument. It unfortunately still seems weak to me, but the time spent reading it is not wasted at all.
I finished creating the 2012 edition of the Best of Rationality Quotes collection. (Here is last year's.)
The page was built by a short script (source code here) from all the LW Rationality Quotes threads so far. (We had such a thread each month since April 2009.) The script collects all comments with karma score 10 or more, and sorts them by score. Replies are not collected, only top-level comments.
As is now usual, I provide various statistics and top-lists based on the data. (Source code for these is also at the above link, see the README.) I added these as comments to the post:
- Top quote contributors by total karma score collected
- Top quote contributors by karma score collected in 2012
- Top quote contributors by statistical significance level (See this comment for a description of this metric.)
- Top original authors by number of quotes
- Top original authors by total karma score collected
The link is good apropos, but the question that interests me is a bit more general. It seems to me that the apparent failure of Intrade to function as a predictor/knowledge aggregator before the US presidential elections was an important natural experiment. What do you think about the explanations and implications? I don't think it's too hard to discuss the knowledge aggregation issues without being bogged down in the specificities of US politics.
rot13.com is a service frequently used here to hide spoilers. I really hate it, though. If I had the time, I would build a simple, but much better alternative. Maybe somebody has more time to do that, so I'll share my rough specification:
- Dynamic. The encoding happens on the client automatically, whenever the content of the input textbox changes. No Submit key needed.
- Decoded content can be reached through an encoded URL. Instead of the receiver pasting the ciphertext into the rot13.com textbox, the sender can provide an encoded URL, and the receiver simply clicks on the link. This is slightly less convenient for the sender, but is much more convenient for the (hopefully many) receivers.
- Many people can decrypt parts of rot13 ciphertexts without conscious effort. This defeats the purpose. The new service could provide some alternative encryption that is not a substitution cipher. It should still be a reciprocal cipher, that is a nice property of rot13.
- rot13 fails for non-ASCII characters. (rot13.com leaves them intact.) The alternative encryption should work for all Unicode strings.
- Strong, password-based encryption could also be added as an extra feature. I could send you a very long URL, and tell you a password on the phone, or only tell you the password at a later date.
The only important design problem I don't know how best to solve is making the encryption work for Unicode, with the following three constraints: making it a reciprocal cypher, outputting visually nice strings, and making it map ASCII to ASCII. One possible solution is to drop the constraint that it is a reciprocal cypher. For this service it is probably not crucial anyway: the ciphertext can be base64, with some escape prefix distinguishing it from plaintext.
After writing the above, I found this LW thread: Does anyone else find ROT13 spoilers as annoying as I do? There were several suggestions there, and two of the commenters, sketerpot and LightningRose even coded their own solutions to the spoiler problem. Each solution had some merit, and LightningRose's in particular was far superior to the rot13.com site I used to use, but basically, they only dealt with the third point of my proposal.
Is there anything like what I envision? Is anyone interested in building it? What changes or extra features would you like to see?
Scott Aaronson has published a preliminary version of his long essay titled 'Why Philosophers Should Care About Computational Complexity'. His announcement blog post has some interesting comments, and he welcomes suggestions there. I am not sure I like the organization of the paper. (I know most of the CS stuff discussed, so it is hard for me to decide how readable it is for people who don't.) But it is full of interesting ideas, and some of these are new even for those of us who follow Scott's writings.
I have just realized that sitemeter has the following data published about my visit, in a searchable and browsable format:
|Domain Name||broadband.hu ? (Hungary)|
|IP Address||80.98.73.# (UPC Magyarorszag Kft.)|
|ISP||UPC Magyarorszag Kft.|
|Operating System||Macintosh MacOSX|
Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; U; Intel Mac OS X 10.5; en-US; rv:22.214.171.124) Gecko/20101203 Firefox/3.6.13 GTB7.1
|Time of Visit||Feb 2 2011 12:34:19 pm|
|Last Page View||Feb 2 2011 12:34:40 pm|
|Visit Length||21 seconds|
|Visit Entry Page||http://lesswrong.com/r/discussion/|
|Visit Exit Page||http://lesswrong.com...a_lw_meetup_is_easy/|
|Visitor's Time||Feb 2 2011 9:34:19 pm|
I am not a privacy geek, but isn't this a bit too extensive? By the way, I am not from Etyek, Hungary, I am from Budapest, Hungary. Etyek is a very small village, so if sitemeter consistently identifies me as someone from Etyek, then it will be even easier to track my lesswrong browsing habits. It is very easy even without that.
Best of Rationality Quotes 2009/2010 (Warning: 750kB page, 774 quotes)
The year's last Rationality Quotes thread has calmed down, so now it is a good time to update my Best of Rationality Quotes page, and write a top post about it. (The original version was introduced in the June 2010 Open Thread.)
The page was built by a short script (source code here) from all the LW Rationality Quotes threads so far. (We had such a thread each month since April 2009.) The script collects all comments with karma score 4 or more, and sorts them by score.
There is a minor complication: The obvious idea is to consider only top-level comments, that is, comments that are not replies to other comments. Unfortunately, good quotes are sometimes replies to other quotes. Of course, even more often, replies are not quotes. This is a precision-recall trade-off. Originally I went for recall, because I liked many replied quotes such as this. But as JGWeissman noted in a comment below, to build the precise version, only a trivial modification of my script is needed. So I built it, and I preferred it to the noisy version after all. So now at the top of this post we have the filtered version, and here is the original version with even more good quotes, but also with many non-quotes:
Best of Rationality Quotes 2009/2010, including replied comments (Warning: 1.3MB page, 1358 quotes)
UPDATE: I changed the links and rewrote the above when I decided to filter replied comments.
UPDATE 2: Added a comment listing the personal quote collection pages of top quote contributors.
UPDATE 3: Responding to various requests by commenters, added several top-lists: