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Comment author: Daniel_Burfoot 20 July 2017 04:06:12PM *  6 points [-]

Continuing with Adams' theme of congratulating himself on making correct predictions, I'll point out that I correctly predicted both that Adams did in fact want Trump to win a year ago, and also planned to capitalize on the prediction if it came true, by writing a book:

My guess is that Adams is hoping that Trump wins the election, because he will then write a book about persuasion and how Trump's persuasion skills helped him win. He already has a lot of this material on his blog. In that scenario he can capitalize on his correct prediction, which seemed radical at the time, to generate a lot of publicity for the book.

Both of these claims seem to be confirmed by the podcast. Maybe I should write a book!

Comment author: Daniel_Burfoot 18 July 2017 08:55:42PM 3 points [-]

Does anyone have good or bad impressions of Calico Labs, Human Longevity, or other hi-tech anti-aging companies? Are they good places to work, are they making progress, etc?

Comment author: username2 08 July 2017 03:04:33AM *  8 points [-]

This is a mean vs median or Mediocristan vs Extremistan issue. Most people cannot do lone wolf, but if you can do lone wolf, you will probably be much more successful than the average person.

I cannot disagree with this more strongly. I am serial entrepreneur, and a somewhat successful one. Still chasing the big exit, but I've built successful companies that are still private. Besides myself I've met many other people in this industry which you'd be excused for thinking are lone wolfs. But the truth is the lone wolf's don't make it as they build things that fail to have product/market fit, fail to listen to feedback if and when it is even made available to them (since they don't seek it), and usually fail to raise or maintain funding from lack of communication and organizational skill.

The successful entrepreneurs, hedge funders, etc. are not afraid of thinking that conventional wisdom is wrong. The success they have is not from trailblazing a new path -- that just goes with doing something new -- but from having the tenacity to ask "but why is that so?" of conventional wisdom. Every now and then you find something that just shouldn't be so -- it has no good justification except historical accident -- and then you execute. And a very important part of execution is building a team that can work together to avoid the heuristics and biases that follow lone wolfs around.

Don't be a lone wolf. Be a social rationalist willing to question everything and go where that takes you. It's not the same thing.

Comment author: Daniel_Burfoot 08 July 2017 10:19:56PM 0 points [-]

I agree with you in the context of entrepreneurship, but the OP was talking about self improvement. The best strategy for learning or self-improving may be very different from the best strategy for building a company.

Comment author: Daniel_Burfoot 07 July 2017 04:35:17PM 6 points [-]

This is a mean vs median or Mediocristan vs Extremistan issue. Most people cannot do lone wolf, but if you can do lone wolf, you will probably be much more successful than the average person.

Think of it like this. Say you wanted to become a great writer. You could go to university and plod through a major in English literature. That will reliably give you a middling good skill at writing. Or you could drop out and spend all your time reading sci-fi novels, watching anime, and writing fan fiction. Now most people who do that will end up terrible writers. But when someone like Eliezer does it, the results are spectacular.

Furthermore, because of the Power Law and the "Average is Over" idea, most of the impact will come from the standout successes.

Comment author: Daniel_Burfoot 04 July 2017 03:05:26AM 2 points [-]

I am working on a software tool that allows programmers to automatically extract FSM-like sequence diagrams from their programs (if they use the convention required by the tool).

Here is a diagram expressing the Merge Sort algorithm

Here is the underlying source code.

I believe this kind of tool could be very useful for code documentation purposes. Suggestions or improvements welcome.

Comment author: cousin_it 29 June 2017 07:11:41AM *  2 points [-]

Hang on, I'm not sure I buy it. Why are they so thin, hard and sharp then? Some kind of fuzz or flat leaves would work better.

Comment author: Daniel_Burfoot 01 July 2017 05:58:28PM *  1 point [-]

There are lots of cacti that are mostly hairy/fuzzy instead of pointy.

In terms of air flow protection purchased vs biological effort expended, I'm not sure a leaf is better than a spike.

Comment author: Daniel_Burfoot 29 June 2017 12:05:30AM 5 points [-]

For a long time it was odd to me that cacti have lots of spikes and big thorns. I supposed that the goal was to ward off big ruminants like cows, but that doesn't really make much sense, since the desert isn't really overflowing with big animals that eat a lot of plants.

It turns out that protection from predators is only a secondary goal. The main goal is protection from the environment. The spikes capture and slow the air moving around the plant, to preserve moisture and protect against the heat.

Comment author: Daniel_Burfoot 16 June 2017 11:25:42PM 1 point [-]

Given that many of the most successful countries are small and self-contained (Singapore, Denmark, Switzerland, Iceland, arguably the other Scandinavian countries), and also the disasters visited upon humanity by large unified nation-states, why are people so attached to the idea of large-scale national unity?

Comment author: Daniel_Burfoot 15 June 2017 10:43:28PM 3 points [-]

I really don't think you should try to convince mid-career professionals to switch careers to AI safety risk research. Instead, you should focus on recruiting talented young people, ideally people who are still in university or at most a few years out.

Comment author: Daniel_Burfoot 12 June 2017 03:50:41PM 2 points [-]

Does anyone follow the academic literature on NLP sentence parsing? As far as I can tell, they've been writing the same paper, with minor variations, for the last ten years. Am I wrong about this?

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